Elvis Costello, Willie Nelson, Jimmy Buffett and Bette Midler have all spent time in the recording studio with tonight's Lafayette performers, Dan Hicks & the Hot Licks.

Hicks started playing music in the sixth grade. He has since acquired talent for the guitar, drums, spoons, piano, harmonica, autoharp and kazoo. Most reputable of all his talents is his voice, however, which cuts clean into the Jimmy Buffet range of sound.

The Hot Licks' name was born when Hicks was searching for possible band names; it proves to have meaning beyond catchy rhyme.

"Hot Licks is an ancient jazz term meaning 'inspired musical phrases,'" Hicks said. "One name I wrote down and rejected was 'The Rag-a-Muffins.'"

The Hot Licks stand out in its six-piece acoustic format, which includes guitars, a stand-up bass, a violin and a mandolin. His female back-up singers, the Lickettes, will also be present at the show.

In addition to music, Hicks has had experiences with films, such as working with Gene Hackman in the 1991 movie "Class Action." He said music and the movies are comparable on many levels.

"It all comes from the same creative place," Hicks said. "Both involve a lot of preparation, and at the same time, letting it all hang out."

Kennon Baird and his wife have known Hicks for 10 years and they control his Web site.

"I enjoy Dan's music because it goes places that no other music goes," Baird said. "A unique blend of folk, jazz, swing and acid-mariachi."

Dan Hicks & the Hot Licks, with opening band Punkin Holler Boys, will perform at 8 p.m. today at the Lafayette Brewing Co., 622 Main Street, Lafayette. Tickets are $17, and it is a 21-and-over, no-smoking show.

"I think I have some of the most amazing acoustic players in my band these days and want everyone in Lafayette and at Purdue to come and hear them," Hicks said. "They are knock-outs."

For a music sample from Dan Hicks & the Hot Licks, visit www.purdueexponent.org.

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