Dan Hicks 7 Questions

One of the most interesting musicians is Dan Hicks. The musical world has gotten smaller and it is so easy to hear difference music from all over the world. It is really rare that an artist is able to combine so many world sounds and make crazy interesting music out of it all. Dan Hicks, since playing jazz in early 50s and forming bands during the roots of Rock and Roll, has a musical variety that really is unique and equaled by very few. He has collaborated the legends of music and has seen the cover of Rolling Stone twice. His new CD Tangled Tales is phenomenal. Dan will be at the State Theatre on October 6 and this concert needs to be on your Must Go list. We caught up with Dan Hicks from his Santa Rosa home. Let’s meet Dan Hicks.

ModestoView: I love music and enjoy the history of the hillbilly, rockabilly and gypsy music. Your roots must go back with the Maddux Bros and Rose, the cowboy and hillbilly music that were on the radio in the 40s and 50s and must have influenced you.

Dan Hicks: They could have, my parents were in the Army and Air Force, we lived in Vallejo and they liked country music as a kid and that is what we listened to on the radio. When I started playing guitar when I was 20 years old, I listened to a lot of folk music, Bob Wills and Texas Playboys, and Hank Williams. I am kind of kind of eclectic in a way, putting in the jazz stuff. We can even put that into kind of thing into a Jimmy Rogers tune.

MV: Modesto is known for the cowboy music of Chester Smith , our American Graffiti and a new hot area for the new rockabilly, What do you think of the resurgence of rockabilly? DH: Funny you should say that, I am on the Surf Dog label out of San Diego, and they got a hold of me a few weeks ago and they have signed a new guy named Drake Bell who is also an actor and he is going to do a Rockabilly album. So I am going to be working on a project with Drake and write some tunes and get the sound going. I am not a rockabilly artist per se, but I like that sound and can really do something with it.

MV: Your music is just so clean and “swangy” and a lot of those licks show up in songs like I Scare Myself and are really amazing. What really influences and inspires you now??

DH: Swing jazz with the most predominating thing for me. I like jazz, scatting and vocalizing. I’m still singing with the two girls, the Lickettes, doing a lot of harmonies, making a Swang and Django sound. I am still doing the swing thing with some kind of country roped to it.

MV: I am a big fan of the Django and that is why I love your music so much. DH: Yeah. I am too. I like to do that kind of music too. We have a violin player and I like to write tunes and get a lead guitar and violin player doing it together.

MV: Modesto is the home of American Graffiti and the historic cruise. Did you ever cruise? DH: You know, they made American Graffiti in Petaluma and Santa Rosa maybe, and I am from Santa Rosa and that movie looked like high school to me. We would Drag 4th St That would be the thing. We would go up and down the street and that would be the deal, driving back and forth. I graduated in1959 from high school so that was my era.

MV: You have so much variety in your music. What are some of the surprises the Modesto audience can expect? DH: (Laughs) There will be surprised with some of the tunes we will do, I do some new stuff, and also some of the stuff from the 70’s. I really like to do I Scare Myself and Canned Music. I think anything is going to be a surprise since it will be a new experience for Modesto. I have a current list of songs there will be some old tunes, some standards, some Jimmy Rodgers, there are 6 of us and there is a lot of percussion. The Lickettes have been with me for 6 years and we have some good stuff coming.

MV: Is there a song that just rattled you when you grew up and pointed the direction for you? DH: I was a swing jazz guy since I was in Junior high. I was a originally a drummer and I used the play the traditional dixieland and swing jazz. Benny Goodman and Sing Sing Sing were what I loved to do. We did jazz noon-time sessions and I was in a couple of combos. I put a rock band together in the late 50’s I listened to Chuck Berry and I liked Ricky Nelson and the other popular music that was happening. I think that there is going to be something for everyone at this show. There is a similar sound to my music but there is a variety of what I do, you can hear it, it is the bass or we go from song to song, one will be bluesy, country, swing and we do some Latin influences as well. It will be a very fun evening.

Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks State Theatre – October 6 Doors at 7 pm. Tix are $20, $25 and $30

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