Dan Hicks brings his Hot Licks to the Kessler Theater Friday. The 71-year-old musician, who describes his sound as folk-swing, is working on a new album, and he releases a live album, “Live from Davies,” in June. He took a few minutes to talk to us from his home in Mill Valley, Calif. Monday.
Who are you bringing with you?
Well I’ve got two lady singers, Daria and Roberta (Donnay). I’ve got a guitarist, Paul Robinson. Benito (Cortez) on violin and mandolin. It’s a quintet, and that’s our usual traveling aggregation. The bass player stays at home because … it has to be that way economically, but we still have a pretty full sound. The girls play percussion.
You’re working on a new album, is it called “I Feel Like Singin'”?
I’m thinking about calling it “Full Play,” but I haven’t really run that by anyone yet. That’s one of my old songs, “I Feel Like Singin’,” so the idea is about singing and scatting and jazz vocals stuff. So that’s kind of the name or the theme of the concert, but the album, we’re going to get to later.
What else are you working on?
We do have an album coming out in June, a live album, “Live at Davies.” It was a birthday concert, and we recorded it at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco about a year ago. There were about 3,000 people there, and we had a bunch of guests on it … Rickie Lee Jones, Ray Benson, John Hammond, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott,Van Dyke Parks…
What can people expect for Friday’s show?
The folk-swing sound; it’s kind of jazzy and light. A lot of the music is just good natured. I like people to be glad they came. We’ll probably have some new stuff, five or six new songs, and some of my classics, even though I scare myself when I say that. We do Duke Ellington “Caravan” and “My Old Timey Baby,” that’s one of my old songs, and “Crazy for You” … we do a bunch of them.
Have you been on the road a lot?
It’s sporadic. I’ll go out for a week or so at a time and then I do local things too.
Is there anything you like to do when you’re in Texas?
I kind of like to enjoy the fact that I’m in Texas. Sometimes I go “Oh man, another road trip, gotta get on another plane and all that stuff and do one-nighters and possibly be exhausted” and all that stuff. But then I think “at least I’ll be in Texas.” There are some places that are just more enjoyable than others. It’s very musical down there, and I like that aspect.
What is inspiring you for the new album?
Humor always inspires me. Observing people and things, and I think I’m kind of an observer of the human condition, so I get inspired that way. Also, I think I have a pretty good imagination. I don’t need to be inspired; I can just use my imagination. Just take a look around. But I’ve written songs about handling life today and the changes — celphones and all kinds of stuff that wasn’t around when I started out, and coping with that kind of stuff. Life inspires me. I’m not really that avid a writer. I used to write a lot and write every day when I started out. But now I only write when I kind of feel like it or if there’s some kind of project, but I don’t write every day like I used to.