Date sent: Sat, 05 Aug 2006
Subject: Dan in Cambridge, MA
Dan Hicks & the Hot Licks at the Regattabar in Cambridge, Massachusetts on
August 3, 2006.
I've seen Dan Hicks perform in various incarnations of his act dozens of
times over the last thirty years, mostly in the Greater Boston area, but
once in San Francisco's Great American Music Hall for an early 80s
reunion concert with the early Hot Licks featuring Maryann and Naomi.
Thursday night at the Regattabar, DH&THL arrived on stage within a few
minutes of the scheduled 7:30 show time. Dan sported a less flashy look
than some of the outfits I've seen him wear -- this time a white and
green shirt with some type of irregular crisscross pattern, and a pair of
Lickettes Daria and Roberta each wore a short little black dress. (I'm
guessing most people aren't wondering what guitarist Dave Bell was
The Regattabar is a small jazz club inside the Charles Hotel in Harvard
Square. The tables are small, round cafe-style, placed close together
with four chairs each. I attended the show solo, and they assign seats
according to the order that the tickets were purchased. Arriving early, I
was pleasantly surprised to be seated very close to the stage, in the
second row of tables.
I was even more pleasantly surprised when, by total coincidence the people
assigned to my table turned out to be an arts publicist that I've known
for years, and a newspaper writer (like me) who does arts reporting for a
group of newspapers just outside Boston, and her husband. She wrote a
feature about Dan, previewing the show, and interviewed him by phone from
his home in Mill Valley. She said that he had her in stitches laughing
through the entire interview.
"Canned Music" was in its customary lead-off spot, followed by an
instrumental number that Dan didn't identify. (I think it's the song
they normally do second.)
Next were "Strike It While It's Hot" and "Song of My Father". A
song that Dan identified as a Jim Kweskin number, "Blues My Sweetie Gave
to Me" followed.
Dan then stepped aside and let the Lickettes belt out "I'm an Old
All the while, Dan was doing a fair amount of banter between songs,
although he wasn't quite as loquacious as some nights. He introduced
"I Scare Myself" by providing his own Spanish translation of the song
title -- "Yo Scare Myself".
Dan demonstrated his physical agility as well, especially during "I
Scare Myself". As the band played their solos, Dan and the girls used
the break to do a winding march through the audience, Dan playing the
cowbells all along the route, with the girls also bringing along portable
When they reached a patch of open space in the rear of the room, Dan
executed a series of spins and twirls that would have challenged most men
half his age. It harkened back to Dan's younger days when he was known
as quite the hoofer.
Dan continued to boogie through "Pennies from Heaven", joining the
Lickettes for some choreographed moves within the space limitations of the
Dan introduced the next song, "13-D" as a love Song for Speed Freaks.
"They fall in love too, folks", Dan informed the audience.
Next was Ukulele Lady, followed by "That Ain't Right". A personal
favorite, "Evenin' Breeze" was next.
Dan introduced "Sure Had a Wonderful Time" as a Louis Jordan tune. The
song concerns a man who wakes up with no memory of the night before due to
overindulgence, but is sure he had a wonderful time.
They ended with "Payday Blues".
For an encore, they did "How Can I Miss You When You Won't Go Away?"
They also did one more song, but I don't have it in my notes and I
can't recall what it was. You just can't rely on us print journalists
when it comes to this Internet stuff.
Dan introduced the band a couple of times in the course of the night.
Richard Chong was on violin. Dave Bell played lead guitar. Paul Smith
handled bass chores. Each time he did the introductions, with all the
cheering it was hard to tell whether Dan said the last names of the
Lickettes, but I did catch their first names: Daria and Roberta.
[Roberta Donnay. Daria doesn't use a last name]
Dan seemed to be in a good humor all evening. During the instrumental
break in one number, Dan rapped his knuckles audibly on his guitar several
times in succession. When some in the audience clapped, as if he had just
done his solo, Dan nodded, lowered his eyelids and flashed a mock sincere
smile, mouthing "thank you".
There was only one incident where an unfortunate individual made the
mistake of shouting a request, a practice that Dan frowns upon. The
request was for "How Can I Miss You When You Won't Go Away". Dan
didn't let the opportunity pass.
"Well, we were going to play that song", Dan deadpanned. He then noted
that he'd sung that song "about 12 billion times", and said he
wanted to "give it a rest for a couple of decades". Of course, when
they did the song as their encore, Dan couldn't resist one more little
"I have an idea", Dan said. "We're gonna play "How Can I Miss
You When You Won't Go Away".
It seems like a given, so I almost forgot to mention that the band was
tight as usual, and everybody was in fine voice. Dan's voice sounded
great, and as always seemed to blend perfectly with female harmonies.
We ran into Dan on the way out as he was coming back in the room to chat
with people and socialize. So we got to exchange a few words and shake
hands. Dan was courteous and friendly.