COMBINED REPORTS - The Coach House, San Juan Capistrano CA, June 22 2002
From: Buffalo Al & Queenie
To: ""
Subject: Coach House, San Juan Capistrano CA
Date: June 23 2002

The June 22 show at San Juan Capistrano's Coach House is now a memory. After we converged on SJC from all directions, we managed to assemble a few Hixlisters. Queenie and I were met by Bill Hughes, his aunt Colleen and Bill's new recruits to the world of Hix, Lenny and Margaret and Bob and Colleen. The newcomers to Dan's music were suitably debauched over the course of the evening.

Kevin Brechner & Company were in attendance and another Hixter named Dave (who was at the Bash) made his presence known (and was our neighbor at the Best Western).

Dan, Susan, Anabelle and Brian were joined by the stalwart Paul Robinson (a genuine treat) and Paul Smith on bass who I don't remember seeing before.

The opening acts (Shawn somebody first) and Steve Polz (an accomplished songwriter-credits including Dawson's Creek, Notting Hill, Mystery, Alaska) did a good job of warming up the crowd. Of course half the place was suffering from heat exhauston as the place was stifiling, so warming up is probably not the correct term to use. The Steve Polz character was funnier than hell and quite entertaining. He reminded me of an R rated version of the "Steven" character in the Dell commercials. Queenie said he was a cute kid!

Dan opened {predictably) with Canned Music. As I write this Queenie is tearing the room apart trying to find the song list she dutifully kept throught the show. I think Kevin kept a list too, so hopefully he can enumerate it. I'll just keep it to general impressions. At the beginning of the set Dan looked tired, as did the rest of the ensemble. After the 3rd number or so they got in the groove and started enjoying themselves. Dan was his impish self and while still seeming tired he was in good spirits and very entertaining. Susan and Annabelle were their usual effervescent selves. Alway a big hit in my book!

Paul Robinson was great and added a familiar but different sound to the band. His slide guitar work on "I scare myself" was an interesting wrinkle that really pumped up the veteran tune. The show ended about midnight. We waited around for an appearance form the band but after about 15 minutes there was no sign so we saddled up and headed off to our next important duty.

Queenie and I next checked in to the Swallow Inn to keep our promise to Steve Ramirez to toast his birthday. Yes we had (non)-virgin Kamikazes, Steve. They were great! Happy Birthday man, we missed you!

The Swallow Inn is a small honkey-tonk populated by an interesting and eclectic mixture of local bikers, cowboys in their new Resistol hats and Frye boots, some college kids and some stragglers (me and Q included). A journeyman rock band played really loud music and everybody in the place danced (Barstool boogieing included). Quite a night all in all. Now its time to prowl around SJC, do the antique mall, eat some good food and get back to the desert.

There was a lot of discussion about the Birthday Bash (an incredibly tough act to follow) and we're all very anxious to see the DVD.

Buffalo Al and Queenie


From: Kevin Cloud Brechner
To: ""
Subject: Coach House, San Juan Capistrano CA
Date: 24 June 2002

Well, we didn't see any swallows returning to Capistrano, but we did see Dan Hicks and The Hot Licks in their return engagement. We also saw Hixlisters Buffalo Al and Queenie, Bill Hughes with his Ambassador College alumni friends, and Dave from Costa Mesa. And we toasted Steve Ramirez in absentia. I was there with Nancy Hotaling. Tickets were $19.50 each.

The Coach House is located in a "Spanish" style mini-mall along side the centuries old Camino Real, although I doubt that the Spanish conquistadors would recognize it in its modern form. The club inside has the feeling of age even though it isn't. All the walls are lined with autographed publicity photos of the famous and not-so famous acts that have played The Coach House over the years. It is a big, dark, two story room with the ample stage in the middle along the North wall. Rimming the second floor overlooking the main floor were private glass-windowed boxes for elite guests who don't want to mix with us hoi polloi common folk on the main general admission floor. Ceiling fans hang down to cool the crowd. A long bar runs almost half way across the back to serve up the two drink minimums required of the audience. On the second floor opposite the stage was an opening to the main floor where the house mixer sat. That is an almost perfect place for a mixer to sit, so there is absolutely no excuse for why the mics were too low on the Lickettes and on the fiddle/mandolin player, Brian Godschaux. They weren't so low in volume that they could not be heard, but low enough that the solos did not cut through. And the background singing Lickettes were a little too far in the background auditorally for my taste. The mixer had feedback problems once too.

We had a nice experience with the maitre'd of The Coach House. Since we were not having dinner, the closest seats to the stage were on the side of the stage. Dan would have been blocked by the guitar player. I asked the maitre'd if anything more central was available. He said all the seats were tied up for dinner registrations, but if anything opened up he would let us know. I figured he said that to all the people and then promptly forgot about it, but two hours later, after the first two acts had completed, I got a tap on the shoulder and he moved us to wonderful center seats right in front of the Lickettes and right next to Buffalo Al, Queenie, and Bill Hughes!

The opening act was Shawn Jones, a solo singer-guitar player. He sang ballads. They all sort of sounded alike, but he had a full sounding left-handed 12 string guitar and provided his own bass kick drum by pounding the heel of his hand onto the guitar top rhythmically as he strummed. He seemed like a nice enough guy who'd come to Southern California from the Midwest to make it, and told us proudly that he has sold one of his songs to the TV show Dawson's Creek. I thought his songs would probably be better if he had a band behind him. But he was pleasant enough and handsome, I would guess, for the women. Kind of like a rich kid singing the blues.

The second act was much more interesting to me. His name was Steve Poltz from San Diego. He played guitar and sang, but had a pretty twisted sense of humor that made him a better opening act for Dan, The Man. He wore a cowboy shirt on which he had hand-painted guitars and cowboy symbols. In the middle of the show, as a joke, he held up some of his "tour" T-shirts, which were all hand-painted and funny. He sang an adult version of the alphabet, told some funny stories, carried on a running gag with the waitress who brought him a shot of clear tequila, and sang some lamenting love songs. The crowd liked him and he had a following, because some of the audience left at the end of his act.

But the main show was The Man, Mr. Dan Hicks and The Hot Licks. I agree with Buffalo Al and Queenie's show report that the band looked tired. The Lickettes were peppy, but Paul Robinson on guitar only smiled once the whole evening and just sat there. Some of the solos from the musicians were a little uninspiring, but part of that may have been the mixer problem I mentioned earlier. Dan seemed his normal rascally self on-stage, but going up and down the stairs to the dressing room he seemed tired.

It was a great show despite these little things. Dan came out in his Birthday Bash black print shirt with orange, green, and red fruit and leaves mixed with a yellow basket weave design. He had dark pants held up by a BRIGHT red leather belt. A sketch of Dan that I made will be forwarded to the website, in case Kathy and Ken want to use it. The lighting was pretty poor.

Dan had a new guitar. His classic black Guild with the red bird painted on it was replaced tonight by a deep red-topped Gretsch acoustic with a rounded triangle-shaped sound hole. I tried to look it up on the Gretsch website. It seems to be the Rancher 16, a.k.a. a "Sweet Sixteen." I liked his old Guild, but maybe it was time for a change. I think the mixer could have turned it up a little too, to balance it with the other instruments.

Lickette Annabelle Cruz wore a tight red top and tighter black leather miniskirt over black fishnet stockings. Lickette Susan Rabin wore a full-length sequined dress. Part way through the show she zipped off the sequined skirt to reveal a simple black skirt. The black sequined top faded to cream colored sequins over her midriff. The male musicians all wore sports coats and slacks. Paul Smith, the bass player, quickly removed his coat and played in a gray shirt with a subtle plaid. Brian Godschaux, the fiddler and mandolin player, stayed in coat and floral tie all evening with two-toned black pattened leather shoes with white tops, and I was delighted to see that he was not wearing the goofy, porkpie hat he often has worn in the past. No hat makes him seem more serious and less like an R. Crumb comic nerd. Guitarist Paul Robinson took his coat off too, after a couple of songs. He had a loose-fitting, long-sleeved white shirt.

Bill Hughes next to us made a bet that Dan would open with Canned Music, and sure enough he did. The audience loved it.

Dan said he would be doing some old standards and some new songs, and somebody had said he should be doing more cover tunes, so he was going to do a Britney Spears' number. The audience laughed at how ridiculous that sounded. Next came Waitin' with the twin violins of Brian and Annabelle. The old magic was definitely happening. After the tune Dan complained about the intense spotlight on him from stage left. The house turned it down.

Next was the Tom Waits' song The Piano Has Been Drinking. He introduced the song by imitating Tom Wait's singing the song. Then he said "Some people do their songs nice and easy....We never do them nice and easy." Maybe it was some sort of a Tina Turner tribute.

Evening Breeze was next. It was a fine rendition, but the audience was only politely enthusiastic afterwards. Dan said, "We don't expect you to go ape shit over every song."

Dan introduced the band members and afterwards said "You know me....Mike Tyson." He pointed out what a good guy he was to introduce all the band members. Other bands don't do that. Dan said, "Who is Britney Spears' bass player? You don't even know."

Next on the menu was the instrumental Caravan/Four Brothers. Dan explained that a lot of people don't appreciate or accept the idea of jazz, so he tells them that he plays "hip hop."

Dan called the next one "a lament put to music." Payday Blues.

Dan caused a little stir when he introduced the next song saying it was about two people. "Could be two men. Could be two women. Could be two bull dykes." That little bit of political insensitivity caused a small stir in the audience. Next they performed Strike It While It's Hot.

Next Dan painted a picture of Haight Ashbury in the 60's, shoving hashish brownies down his throat. They performed I Scare Myself. The Lickettes went through a bunch of different rhythm instruments like sand blocks and maracas. Dan told them he would wait while they get it out of their system. The instrumental solos were pretty good. Paul Robinson's guitar solo included de-tuning the E string in the middle of the solo to get some deep, deep notes. Brian's fiddle solo started kind of slow, but build into an almost out-of-control craziness. It was one of the best solos I have seen him do of this tune. And Paul Smith's bass solo was good too.

Dan decided to take a 30 second break and turned his back on the audience for a drink of water. He then told everyone they needed to slow down. "Remember the riots of Escondido in 1984." And, of course, they didn't slow down. They performed Long Comma Viper. It had a mandolin solo, but the volume was too low.

Dan pulled out his snare drum for "a special treat." Dan said, "I've never played the drum before.....This is cool." They played a song I don't remember hearing them perform, Exactly Like You, an old pop tune. In the middle, Dan and the Lickettes did a loosely choreographed dance routine that entertained the crowd. When every he got to the words "You" in the song, he held his two palms out to the audience in a stereotyped singer's gesture indicating that we in the audience were the "you" to whom he was singing ."

After the tune, Dan announced to the crowd, "If you'd like to see us do more television, write to Jay Leno at....." Then they performed I Feel Like Singing. Dan is getting the Lickettes to be much more bold at scat singing, then when the "New" Lickettes first started doing this song. It was nice to see them evolve to new heights. Both Annabelle and Susan did scat solos.

One woman in the audience was pretty loud yelling out comments and others in the crowd shouted out requests, which Dan assured them he would not do. Then he said he might be able to slip them in at the end.

They did perform a new tune I have never heard them perform, the great old country blues song Blues For Dixie. It was a great song for Dan, and hopefully will show up on a future album.

Next Dan talked about Tampa in 1943 as though he had actually been there, and followed it up with his old hit How Can I Miss You When You Won't Go Away?

Dan announced what was left in the show. "We will do a couple more tunes then fake that we are ending, and then do an encore." They sang Bottoms Up next.

The Buzzard Was Their Friend came next. The woman heckler piped up again and Dan announced before they could go on "we need perfect silence in the room." When he got it, they started. When Brian started his solo I think Dan sensed a slight lack of energy by the band because he said, "Okay, boys. Make it jump." And they did.

As predicted, the band said goodnight and left the stage. They climbed the steep stairs up to the dressing room. And he made the audience work to get him back. It was quite a while before he came back down.

The first song of the encore was an old Jimmy Rogers song, Peach Picking Time in Georgia. He gave a short tribute to Jimmy Rogers as the "father of country music." The song gave Dan a chance to yodel and you could really hear Jimmy Rogers in his phrasing of the verses. In the middle he very quickly threw in song titles of songs the audience/hecklers had called out, like Where's The Money? and News From Up the Street. Dan sang a verse in scat, then sang the next verse imitating Bob Dylan. He was really good at it and funny.

The final song started as an instrumental and evolved into Chattanooga Shoe Shine Boy. It was great. Then they left. Dan and the band climbed the steep stairs for a last time this evening.

We wanted to hang around with Al and Queenie at the Sparrow Inn, but we had an hour and a half drive back home, so we wished them well and left. Another pair of satisfied Dan Hicks customers.