At 72 years young, Dan Hicks remains the eternal hipster. Hicks first entered the music scene in the sixties with his seminal group, The Charlatans, and he remains an influential figure among musicians.
Noted for his genre-bending style of folk, jazz, country, swing and a touch of humor, Hicks is widely acknowledged as one of the defining figures in American roots music.
The eclectic musician spoke to GetOut from his Northern California home to promote his upcoming show at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix.
Q: You’re one of those acts who’ve never bothered to chase styles or trends but always remained true to yourself. Why is that?
DH: It all boils down to how I want to occupy my time. What are my priorities? What do I want to do with myself? What’s the musical message and artistry I want to convey? That kind of individual pursuit is more work than having a commercial career. In a way, I’ve created my own little world. I’ve never felt like I’ve been in competition with anyone, and it’s not that I don’t aspire to be popular. There’s one thing I’ve learned in all my years, and that is I’ll never have a hit single. I’ve had suggestions to become more commercial, but I like what I’m doing and that joy and enthusiasm for what I do has never waned.
Q: You’ve probably witnessed a lot of change in the music industry in the last 40 years. What’s your take on today’s music scene?
DH: I don’t think much of it. I’m not sure I see much originality, musicality or good songs these days. The sound is almost barbaric. I don’t have much respect for it. I’ve always been a jazz and swing guy, and so that’s where my taste really lies.
Q: Your sound and act is hard to define, given that you blend so many styles of music together. How would you describe your act to someone who’s never seen you play?
DH: The repertoire has a lot of my original tunes, new material and the standards. It has a lot of elements: instrumentation, vocal harmonies, improvisational humor and swing. It’s an entirely different approach. It’s also mature, humorous and light. Not belly laughs, but more of a subtle type of humor. It’s alive, and it still swings.
If you go
What: Dan Hicks & The Hot Licks - Holidaze in Hicksville
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13
Where: Musical Instrument Museum, 4725 E. Mayo Blvd., Phoenix
Information: (480) 478-6000 or mim.org
• Read more at PressPassBlog.com, the source for Phoenix metro concert news.