Sara Hickman returned to the scene of many of her most successful performances, Poor David’s Pub, for a Valentine’s Night show, and this one can be added to the “Memorable” folder. David Card is well known for treating his artists like family, which makes for some terrific concerts.
While Ms. Hickman is a talented musician in her own right, she gleefully ceded the yeoman’s share of the music making to local guitar wizard Sam Swank, whose acoustic and electric guitars added a different atmosphere to the songs so many in the audience have enjoyed for years. Absent a guitar cord tether, Ms. Hickman’s inner chanteuse was free to prance, preen, and prowl all over the stage and into the audience, to the expected delight of all in attendance. The only thing missing was a feather boa.
Given the division of guitar labor, Ms. Hickman and Mr. Swank conceived a set list evenly divided between standards and some of Ms. Hickman’s love songs. The appreciative crowd knew it was going to be a different evening from the first song, “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered”, which featured Mr. Swank’s virtuoso acoustic work complementing Ms. Hickman’s soulful vocals. Next in line was “Dear Tracy”, a song inspired by the early departure from a tour of one of Ms. Hickman’s road crew. Soon to follow were, among others, Ms. Hickman’s “Why Don’t You”, “Edward”, “Happy in Your Love”, and the ubiquitous “Simply”, which Mr. Swank’s atmospheric electric work teleported into a sonic experience far beyond the simple love song she wrote many years ago.
Ms. Hickman is known for her dynamic stage presence, and she made every individual in the audience feel as if she were singing these songs to them in their own private concert. Among the standards were “Chelsea Morning”, “Elmer’s Tune”, and the show-closing “Lady is a Tramp”, and Ms. Hickman gave each the unique treatment that only a singer of her talent and passion can provide. The highlight, however, was her playful and yet still sexy rendition of “I Wanna Be Evil”, in which her Bad Girl persona manifested itself in growls, squeals, and slithers. To borrow a cliché, she owned it, and there is a one hundred percent certainty that if Eartha Kitt had been in the audience, she would have led the standing ovation the song deserved.
As usual, Ms. Hickman maintained a running improvised monologue between songs, telling jokes, riffing with Mr. Swank, and generally being her ebullient self. Nobody who was there will ever forget her removing her Rasta braid hair piece and turning it into a mutated Sesame Street character escaped from a Ridley Scott movie. For 135 seconds, it occupied her being and became a living, breathing creature, ultimately affixing itself to Mr. Swank’s head. Only at a Sara show.
The opening act was Greg Schroeder, and he acquitted himself admirably with a 30-minute set of country folk numbers. Accompanying himself on acoustic guitar, he performed mostly original songs, frequently inspired by his young daughter but written such that anyone who loves someone can grasp the emotion. He certainly deserves a listen if you see him on a bill somewhere.
As long as there is a Dallas music scene, Sara Hickman will have an appreciative audience. And as long as Sara Hickman will climb on stage and sing into a microphone, the Dallas music scene will have an entertaining way to spend an evening.