Wish Dan Hicks a happy belated birthday if you go to see him at the Rialto Theatre tonight.
The California musician, known for playing everything from cowboy folk to gypsy jazz, turned 72 on Monday.
As of late last week, Hicks wasn’t sure what his plans were going to be on his big day.
“I played The Warfield in San Francisco on my 60th birthday and the Davies concert hall on my 70th,” he said in a phone interview from his Mill Valley home. “I think this year I’ll just go to dinner with my wife and that will be enough.”
His plans for Tucson are a little more concrete.
Hicks kicks off his annual Holidaze in Hicksville tour in the Old Pueblo tonight, on a short Southwest run that will take him through Phoenix, Albuquerque and Santa Fe.
The concert will feature songs cherry-picked from his decades of performing. Hicks has been a working musician since first appearing on the San Francisco folk music scene in the late 1950s.
The set will also showcase the performer’s own interpretations of classic Christmas songs and original holiday material.
Hicks is admittedly not a Christmas fanatic.
He likes sending out homemade cards and enjoys some of the more traditional aspects, but “you get inundated with the advertisements and the music in stores,” he said. “I was in a stationery store yesterday, and Bing Crosby was singing ‘Here Comes Santa Claus’ in my goddamn ear. I don’t need all of that, myself.”
He got into playing holiday music as a member of the Christmas Jug Band in the late 1970s. Made up of a crew of professional Mill Valley musicians, including members of Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, the group specialized in original holiday parodies.
“We wrote some good parodies,” Hicks said. “It is always a challenge to write something that is acceptable.”
The Holidaze concert series has become a tradition for the new incarnation of Hicks’ Hot Licks band, Hicks’ signature group, which he started in 1968, disbanded in the early 1970s, and resurrected in 2000.
The annual tour has been so popular among longtime Hicks fans that it gave way to the album “Crazy for Christmas,” released on the SoCal-based Surfdog Records in 2010.
The recording features some of Hicks’ favorite parodies and adaptations, many of which you will hear tonight at the Rialto.
Songs include a scat version of “Carol of the Bells” and “Somebody Stole My Santa Claus Suit,” a takeoff of the classic track “Somebody Stole My Gal.”
“It turned out to be a good Hot Licks album with material that just so happens to be Christmas-related,” he said. “It has a good flavor, a good string-band sound.”
Hicks believes a stop in Tucson with this tour will be a good way to kick off the Holidaze run.
“I still like the music, the stage, the entertaining,” he said. “I like all that stuff.”