Music » Critics' Picks

Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks

Tuesday, Nov. 21; Generations


It's been almost three-and-a-half decades since San Francisco bands like the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Moby Grape and Quicksilver Messenger Service let loose with the first wave of feedback-filled, psychedelia-laced rock & roll. Today, all those bands have faded into memories (and multi-CD retrospective collections). But at least one Bay Area band, Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks, is still performing in its distinctive '50s-era style.The Hot Licks sound didn't qualify as psychedelic then, and it doesn't now. But it certainly is unique, blending elements of 1930s small-group swing, ragtime, vaudeville and novelty tunes in a lineup based on the guitar/violin approach pioneered by Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli. Combined with Hicks' fast-paced, surrealistic lyrics, this musical approach has yielded such off-the-wall classics as "I Scare Myself," "Walking One and Only" and "How Can I Miss You When You Won't Go Away." Today's version of the Hot Licks features longtime Hicks cohort Sid Page on violin, and, judging by the sound of the recently released CD, Beat the Heat, the Hot Licks are still making music in the unique style Hicks first made famous more than 30 years ago.

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