COMBINED REPORTS - Tin Angel, Philadelphia PA, April 8 2000
From: "JL Rose"
Subject: Dan's Philly Show (Incredibly verbose)
Date: Sun, 9 Apr 2000 14:48:40 -0400
Hi fellow Hixter types,
Dan made his (almost) annual appearance at the Tin Angel in Philadelphia last night. Barbara and I met our friends Mick and Linda at Serrano's Restaurant for a yummy meal before the show. If you eat at Serrano's you get reserved seating for the show so this is our usual MO.
Dan strolled in to the Restaurant about 6:30 with Tom Mitchell in tow. Although this is the first time I've seen Tom play with Dan he looked awfully familiar. I said hi to Dan as he walked past and He mumbled a greeting in return. He looked pretty tired. Guess the road doesn't get any easier. They ate dinner at the Bar.
They had booked Dan as the early show in a two show evening. Not sure why they did this as Dan has always sold out both shows when he played the Tin Angel. I asked Rich Machlin (the owner) about it and he said Dan's show sold out in 2 weeks. "Maybe I should have booked him for both shows, Huh?" Hey, good thinking!
The show started right at 7:30 to a real enthusiastic crowd. The Tin Angel is about 16 feet wide and 100 feet long with the stage at one of the narrow ends so if you aren't in the first 30 or 40 feet by the stage you don't see much. Luckily we were only 3 tables back so we had a great view.
Marina Vittoria opened the show with some original folksy type love songs. She was very good and warmed up the crowd nicely. She said it was great to open for one of music's 'Old Legends' like Dan Hicks. I kind of winced and hoped Dan was busy tuning up back stage. God it even made me feel old!
Dan was still a bit out of it when he took the stage. He was mumbling a bit and had a hard time remembering what albums songs were from. He also mentioned his new album coming out this summer called "Shooting Straight" ???? Someone from the audience helped him out with the title and Dan said "Got that from the Internet, Huh? You can download the whole damn thing from the Internet!" He was also seemed annoyed that he had to finish by 10 for the next show to set up. He put a hurt look on his face and said "Y'know, we like to play music all night when we come to Philly." Got a big laugh with that one.
It was one of those shows where Dan goofs on most of the numbers instead of playing them straight, making it more of a comedy evening that a music evening. I'd rather he'd play it a bit straighter and make us work for the jokes, but, what the hey.
His set included:
- The buzzard was their friend
- Shooting straight
- Hell, I'd Go
- Strike it while its hot
- Peach picking time in Georgia
- Long comma viper
- Caravan/Four Brothers
- I scare myself
- Capo on my brain
- Evening Breeze
- How can I miss you when....
- Canned music (The encore)
By the third song Dan had sharpened up and seemed recharged by the crowds warm reception. His singing improved, his playing got better, and his wit got dryer.
"Buzzard" was played and sung so off key that Tom Mitchell was wincing through the first half of the song and just shut his eyes for the second half. Tom has one of those faces that is real open. It was often just as funny to watch Tom's reaction to something Dan did as it was to watch whatever Dan was doing at the time. Shooting straight started of messy but got real good by the end. Caravan was played with such precision by both Dan and Tom that it was breathtaking. Were talking Chet Atkins and Roger McGuinn here, folks!
Dan introduced 'Evening Breeze' with the comment "I used to have some women in the band, we called them the Lickettes." After some wild applause, Dan said "They retired and are doing missionary work in China now, they were so affected by their time in the band". Dan then proceeded to sing both his and the Lickette's parts in Evening Breeze.
He introduced How can I miss you with "Were going to do this next number then go backstage and come back out to do our Encore. Don't forget the thunderous applause". Which is, of course, what he did.
I snuck backstage after the show to get Dan to autograph my 'Last Train' LP. I saw Tom Mitchell first and he said, you look familiar, have we met? We went over some places we had been and I realized I had seen him many times with "Big Night Out", a swing group that played in the Philly area often. Don't know how he'd remember me, though I'm sure we talked a few times.
Dan autographed the album but I think he was put off a little by me coming back with an album for him to sign and spending 5 minutes shooting the bull with Tom. Ah, well. He asked me my name, then asked me "You sure about that?" I said I was pretty sure, "but hey, let me check my license, OK?" He gave me one of those squinty eyed looks that said "leave the jokes to me, Bub", and signed the album. Hope I don't look familiar to him next time.
Sorry this is so long. We were clubbing pretty late and I lose my ability to edit when I'm hung over.
Subject: Dan at the Tin Angel
Date: Mon, 10 Apr 2000 14:11:11 -0400
Dan Hicks put on an entertaining show Saturday at The Tin Angel, 2nd and Chestnut in Philadelphia. Wish we could have heard more about and from the upcoming album, "Beatin The Heat"!
Sitting in the restaurant downstairs (Serrano's), I spotted Dan at the bar waiting for his dinner and reviewing the song list. He graciously accepted my hand and then answered my question about who else is on the new album (Bette Midler, Rickie Lee Jones, Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, and Brian Setzer). He said he'd never done anything like that before, so many guest stars. I said, "Well, it worked out pretty well for Santana. I can see you next year, getting that Grammy." He said, "I have my speech ready."
My friends and I caught the 7:30 performance. The opening act was Marina Vittoria, a moderately-talented singer-songwriter aged 38-42.
After her 6-7 songs came a 10 minute break, and then Lonesome Dan hit the small stage. It's only about 12 feet wide by 8 feet deep. The room is long and narrow, but the sound system is decent. He and his one accompanist, "friend" Tom Mitchell, played around 60 minutes, sitting on stools mostly. Tom is a virtuoso guitar player who was able to fit Dan's style with licks that were tasteful and (often) high-speed. He sang a few of the accompanying parts, but not very well. In fact, when Dan chose to sing both the male and female parts (a funny bit) he sang the female parts better than Tom.
The songs were a cross-section from a variety of Dan's albums, plus a Jimmy Rogers song and a few new songs, including "A Capo for My Brain". His patter for the audience and moves/face-making were great. There were not many leg kicks, but he did stand in front of Tom and pretended he was doing Tom's fancy solo using his tongue as a pick. He was in good voice, but his old black Guild really needs some work. Its strings were buzzing like crazy, an unnecessary distraction.
After being somewhere in upstate NY Friday night, he was going back to NY after this one show in Phila. This gifted man deserves so much more. Let's hope the new album (with so many famous and talented people) gets the press, the critical attention and the sales needed to send Dan right to the place he's earned, as one of America's most original and skilled songwriters.