Written by Michael Pittman
Jan 21, 2012 at 08:00 PM
ImageThe thing about never really being IN style is that you never really go OUT of style do you? For over 40 years people have been trying to describe Dan Hicks and for a while there it looked like they might just succeed.

But..in 1973, after having gotten his picture on the cover of the Rolling Stone and released his most successful record yet and just as they thought they had him, he disbanded the Hot Licks and drifted into a low-key solo career. Last Train to Hicksville appeared in 1973 and it wouldn’t be until 1978 that Dan would release It Happened One Bite which was a collection of music he wrote for a movie that never got released.

Dan gathered a little steam in the 80s again and formed The Acoustic Warriors, but it wouldn’t be until 1994 that he would release the live CD Shootin Straight. Ever since signing with Surfdog Records in 1998 Dan has been on a comeback with a strong release in 2009’s Tangled Tales and 2010’s long anticipated Christmas album.

The reformed Hot Licks now consist of Benito Cortez on violin/mandolin/strange glasses, Daria and Roberta Donnay on Vocals/Percussion/synchronized dancing and Paul Smith on bass. Dan Hicks appears as himself on Vocals and Guitar and seems quite happy, though his deadpan expression never left his face. The expression really augmented the regular injections of dry wit and humor that has become synonymous with a Dan Hicks performance.

I won’t try to put Hicks into a category just like I wouldn’t (or couldn’t) put Tom Waits into a category. I will say that the rhythms and the melodies conjure up imagery and moods of different kinds which may be the best way to describe it.

ImageFor example, Daria and Roberta (The Lickettes)  punch in these wonderful 30’s style harmonies and do these sultry dance vignettes that make me think of what smoky, semi-dark speakeasies must have been like. Benito would shift in and out of costumes by putting on or taking off strange sunglasses, but his violin was razor sharp and clean all night. Paul played the straight man and just played clear, dead on bass.

I especially enjoyed the occasional synchronized dancing as Dan led The Lickettes as they turned a lazy circle during I Scare Myself and at one other point in the show that shall go nameless. To go from the Panamanian style Sambas right into I’m An Old Cowhand was the kind of stuff that kept the right at 200 member audience at bay and held their attention.

I can’t close out without recommending Darias solo record to you. It’s called Feel The Rhythm and if you love jazz and scat singing, you need to check out the phenomenal range Daria has in her voice. It’s well produced and very worth putting in your rotation.

All in all, another great show at Dosey Doe in The Woodlands and if you haven’t already, visit their website and just take a look at the awesome lineup of upcoming shows. They just keep on keeping on and you’ll definitely want to be a part of it.