It’s Stock Show time in Denver which means it’s a great excuse to put a little twang in our jazz. This year’s Stock Show entry on the Vinyl Vault is a 1973 album from Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks entitled “Last Train to Hicksville…the home of happy feet,” released on the Blue Thumb record label.

Dan Hicks grew up in San Francisco in the 1960s, during the time of the Summer of Love, LSD and psychedelic rock. Hicks, however, took a different path starting with the use of primarily acoustic instruments, in contrast to the high decibel attack of other Bay Area acts like the Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead. And, instead of the predominant blues-rock sound of the day, he looked to jazz, swing, and Western music for his inspiration. His influences included such diverse musicians as Bob Wills, Benny Goodman, and Django Reinhardt.

When “The Last Train to Hicksville” was recorded, the band included Mary Ann Price and Naomi Eisenberg on vocals and, together with Hicks, their three-part harmonies permeated the recording session. Other than drums, the instrumentation was all strings: guitars, violins, string bass, mandolin and dobro.

Likely, because Hicks eschewed the popular sound of the day, he and his Hot Licks never enjoyed the commercial success of many of the more well-known Bay Area acts of the time, but the band did accumulate a loyal cult following over the years.

Join Geoff Anderson on the next Vinyl Vault for some jazzy, twangy fun with Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks, on Tuesday, January 16 at 8:30 pm on KUVO JAZZ.

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