Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks

Posted: November 29, 2013 in Music, Storytime
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Sometime around 2000, my friend Rich asked me if I wanted to go check out a performer named Dan Hicks. He was apparently legendary, and his latest album featured a number of well known musicians, including a few artists I liked, so it seemed like a safe gamble to go see him play. He was scheduled at the Cambridge, MA House of Blues, headlining the show for an act that I don’t recall – a guitar-playing singer-songwriter. I convinced my roommate Jeff to go with us – we dropped $20 per ticket and went inside. After grabbing a beer and finding a decent spot to stand for the show, we waited for the opening act to start.

The opener was quite good. Just a dude with his guitar, singing pop/folk/blues songs of his own. Good stuff, and he had a decent crowd. Based on the alleged popularity of Dan Hicks, though, I fully expected that the place would be jam packed by the time Dan came on, and the opener’s small crowd would be eclipsed. Once the opener was done playing, there was only the set break between us and the goodness to come.

At first, I thought the drunk (or stoned) sleepy-eyed guy who came out on stage next was perhaps a second opening act we hadn’t heard about. But nope, it was Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks. They opened with what I believe is one of his most popular tunes – Canned Music. What a piece of crap. As bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as his Hot Lick playing the wood blocks was, Dan could barely keep his eyes open, and he looked like the last place on earth he wanted to be was the House of Blues, paying me back for my $20 cover charge.

After about two minutes, I was ready to go, but I knew Rich’s philosophy regarding live music, especially when you paid for it. You stay to the end. We had all come together in Jeff’s truck, so we all had to leave together. I caught the vibe from Jeff that he was having a miserable time, but I told him that Rich most likely wanted to stay to the end, so we had better just grin and bear it.

It seems that a member of the audience wasn’t particularly impressed by Dan’s performance either, and between two songs, he started heckling Dan from the bar. Lucky for Dan, I suspect, the other people at the bar held him back from heading to the stage and throwing a punch or two. I say lucky for Dan because I really don’t think Dan had it in him to fend off anybody that night.

After a couple more songs and my internal struggle to figure out how I was gonna tolerate this horrible music “to the end,” Rich leaned over to me and said “I’m good if you are.” Music to my ears! You see, Rich is a music fanatic, and I expected him to be stubborn enough to withstand the entire set, so you can imagine how awful the spectacle in front of us must have been for him to bail after only four songs.

The ride home was spent mostly discussing our fairly short night and the extent to which we felt ripped off by Mr. Hicks and his Licks. At least we got to see a decent opening act. The shame is that Dan was so bad that we don’t remember anything but the story.



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