Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks - 1971
Dan Hicks And His Hot Licks - A mashup of Americana you could never quite put your finger on.

Dan Hicks And His Hot Licks – In Session At KSAN – 1971 – Past Daily Soundbooth Weekend Edition

Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks - 1971

Dan Hicks And His Hot Licks – A mashup of Americana you could never quite put your finger on.(Photo: Getty Images)

Dan Hicks And His Hot Licks – Live at KSAN-FM, San Francisco – July 4, 1971 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

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Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks to end up the holiday weekend. Live in a studio session at KSAN-FM in San Francisco on July 4, 1971. One of the most difficult things about Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks was describing just what genre they were. They weren’t – they were a mashup of Americana you could never quite put your finger on. Folk, Country, Jazz-ish, 30’s vocal groups, Old Timey (if there was actually a genre called that), 40’s scat singing – you couldn’t definitely say what they were. All you knew is they were like nothing you ever heard. They were completely unique in that respect and they were huge in their home turf of the Bay Area through the late 60s up to the early 70s when Dan Hicks called a halt and quietly slipped away for a few years.

Writing about Hicks for Oxford American in 2007, critic David Smay said, “[T]here was a time from the ’20s through the ’40s when swing—’hot rhythm’—rippled through every form of popular music. That’s the music Dan Hicks plays, and there’s no single word for it because it wasn’t limited to any one genre. Django Reinhardt and the Mills Brothers and Spade Cooley and Hank Garland and the Boswell Sisters and Stuff Smith and Bing Crosby all swing. You can make yourself nutty trying to define what Dan Hicks is. Then again, you could just say: Dan Hicks swings.”

In 1967, Hicks formed Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks with violinist David LaFlamme as a vehicle for new songs rooted in his longstanding appreciation for acoustic-based forms of pre-rock popular music. In one of their earliest engagements, the group opened for The Charlatans; members of the latter band were surprised to see Hicks performing with a different ensemble. In 1968, LaFlamme left to form It’s a Beautiful Day and was replaced by jazz violinist and fellow Santa Rosan “Symphony” Sid Page. Following several lineup changes, vocalists Sherry Snow and Christine Gancher, guitarist Jon Weber, and bassist Jaime Leopold filled out the band, which had no drummer. This line-up was signed to Epic and in 1969 issued the album Original Recordings, produced by Bob Johnston. The first major Hot Licks lineup lasted until 1971 and then broke up.

As a reminder of that original lineup and a taste of what they were all about, here’s that KSAN radio session, as it aired live on July 4, 1971.

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4 Responses

  1. Steven Rubio says:

    I think this version of the Hot Licks included Naomi Ruth Eisenberg and Maryann Price as the women singers, replacing Sherry Snow and Christine Gancher. Dan speaks of their just released album, Where’s the Money, which features Eisenberg and Price. At the 25-minute mark, the song features Naomi doing her own composition, “Presently in the Past”. Finally, I believe that’s Maryann and Naomi on either side of Dan in the photo. Thanks for posting!

    • gordonskene says:

      Yes, you’re right on the Price and Eisenberg reference – but there were just no good available photos of the band during that period. So I opted for good rather than accurate – my bad. It’s the Photo Editor in me that often fights with the historian. Thanks for viewing!

  2. Jerre Allen says:

    I loved Dan & the Band, saw them many times in Bay Area, mostly SF in early to late 70’s , then later in 200? In Great Barrington, MA, while visiting my Wife & youngest Daughter,. The Band was transformed, but many songs survived, as Standards!

    Once in early 70’s Sid Page put me & my friends on the guest list for a show. He was dating my sister Gail’s roommate @ the time. I officially met Dan @ that Bar, when we arrived with a crate of assorted Organic Fruit we were distributing then, through AltDistCo. Dan went right for a basket of Fresh Figs!
    My question is this; Have you ever heard or heard of a 45 Promo recording Dan Made, not sure if the Band was involved? It was entitled “Jerry, the Talking Harmonica.”

    • gordonskene says:

      I’ve heard of it, but where or who was on it, I don’t know. Perhaps some of the readers will shed some light on it.

      Readers? Anybody know?