Ric Hickey
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Ric Hickey

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"CityBeat review of "bittersweetheart""

If you're a fan of the Cincinnati music scene, then you're probably familiar with Ric Hickey's dynamic incarnations over the years, from his role as leader of the raucous power trio, the Loose Wrecks, to his more recent acoustic solo performances opening up for Adrian Belew and Los Lonely Boys. Either way, he displays tremendous range in both his wry songwriting abilities and his virtuosic guitar playing. Bittersweetheart, his first release in five years, focuses his talents in an acoustic showcase of stirring songcraft and instrumental prowess that transcends the typical singer/songwriter fare. With its spare production, spare but lyrical guitar hooks and emotional depth, Bittersweetheart at times recalls Willie Nelson in his prime Red-Headed Stranger years. In fact, the opening song volley of "Barely Staying Alive" and "Our Protagonist" feels like a postmodern homage to Nelson in their stark skins, as they recount tales of surviving life's flood of hardships with humor and grace intact. Standout cuts like the Tex-Mex, knife-edged slide existentialism of "Nuevo Laredo" and the resigned, broken-love lullaby "Smuggled" underscore his stylistic range. One of the finest, if underappreciated, guitarists in Cincinnati for a decade or more, Hickey throws out pyrotechnics here in favor of a more organic, understated style of playing, which shapes the material. He also embeds a handful of guitar instrumentals and they're an integral part of the whole, the way they blend with and thematically echo the other songs in shimmering slivers of melodic impressionism.

Grade: A

(Gregory Gaston)

- August 1, 2007

- CityBeat

"Cincy Post review of "bittersweetheart""

Ric Hickey, best known for his Loose Wrecks power trio, has gone the guy-with-a-guitar route with his first solo acoustic CD, a great collection of lonesome, melancholy songs full of wit and solid writing on his "bittersweetheart."

Hickey draws on the bleak but poignant sound of a Johnny Cash or Willie Nelson on the first two cuts, "Barely Staying Alive," and "Our Protagonist," singing such wonderfully mournful lyrics as "Drinking myself sober/smoking myself straight just trying to stay a little high."

"That character is not taking good care of himself at all," Hickey said with a laugh about the tunes. "I did those first two deliberately in a Willie Nelson vein."

The CD does get more playful as Hickey "misplaces" lost love and sings of Newport, Kentucky's renegade past. Hickey flashes tremendous guitar work and tosses in a few intricate instrumentals, which helps keep the mood and pace on this fine CD.

(Rick Bird)

- August 2, 2007

- Cincinnati Post

"CityBeat 2006 MidPoint Blurbage"

It doesn't seem possible that Cincinnatians have been staring slack-jawed at Ric Hickey's guitar ministrations for two decades now. After wonderously shambling stints with The Speed Hickeys, Telegram Sam, and Sawney Bean, Hickey assembled The Loose Wrecks with the influential triumverate of Frank Zappa, Willie Nelson, and The Stones firmly in his consciously diverse frontal lobe (with side glances at Bob Dylan and Cheap Trick). Hickey and The Loose Wrecks are world-class local treasures.

Dig It: The humor and finesse of Zappa, the laid-back intensity of Willie Nelson, the enormity of Rock history in a single sonic book report.

(Brian Baker)

- Cincinnati CityBeat

"CityBeat 2006 MidPoint Blog"

...Then I popped in and saw Ric Hickey and the Loose Wrecks at Neon's. Ric is one of my favorite guitar players in the city, an absolute joy to watch. He has this slanted, sideways take on the classic Blues/Rock style that he plays with an effortless glee. Seeing Ric (full disclosure: Ric writes for CityBeat sometimes and I've been a fan since I was a teen sneaking into Sudsy's to watch his early band, The Speed Hickeys) was one of those “this is why I love music” moments, just watching someone enjoying themselves so much, out of sheer love of playing and not for some sort of industry pay off.

(Mike Breen)

- Cincinnati CityBeat

""Hickey Lets It All Hang Out""

A Pool and a Pond, the new album from Ric Hickey and the Loose Wrecks, will be released on Thursday as the band performs at Top Cat's in Corryville. The band will also host a second release show on Saturday at Cody's Cafe. The shows will be Hickey's last in-town for a while, as he embarks on a cross-country acoustic tour May 1 for an indefinite period of time.
On A Pool and a Pond, fans of Hickey's work get a little bit of each side of his musical persona. It's a bit of a hodge-podge, but quite an enjoyable one, as he lays out everything from folksy solo-acoustic tracks like "Sad Mystery," to the neon-glowing lo-fi of "Talkin' the Cat Down" (featuring Hickey on all instruments) to the frolicking, full-band Pop Rock of "Burn to the Ground." Adding to the eclecticism, Hickey reaches into the archives for "Ola Puff," a slice of lysergic improv recorded in 1993 with the experimental group Umclunk, and "Walls and Bridges," a hooky, smoking cut from Hickey's previous band, Telegram Sam (a sludgy basement Black Sabbath cover and Simpsons theme remake round out the set). From slanted Art Rock to bluesy, strutting Rock & Roll, Hickey seems to be letting it all hang out on A Pool And A Pond, perhaps emptying the vaults to make room for the new inspirations he's sure to find on his travels across the U.S. - Cincinnati CityBeat April 25, 2002

""Spill It" (weekly local music column)"

A club in L.A. called Largo has been drawing widespread attention for their nights hosted by singer/songwriter/producer Jon Brion. Brion's Friday night hootenannies have become regular stops for musicians, famous and otherwise, thanks to their loose and spontaneous nature. Like an open mic night with a sense of humor, Brion has been known to launch into song requests and oddball cover songs he barely knows at his whim, often coaxing regulars like Elliott Smith or Aimee Mann to join him onstage.
Local singer/songwriter Ric Hickey's regular Thursday night gigs at Cody's Café in Corryville have a similar (if somewhat scaled back) vibe. Hickey's attempt to make each night different and off-the-cuff have been a success. On a recent Thursday, Hickey used the intimacy of the tight-quarters of Cody's "bar room" to his advantage, joking with the audience, taking requests and making light of any unexpected technical problems (it was a three-string-break night -- a clear success). Armed with an acoustic guitar (and a delay pedal), Hickey played many of his own songs, but also launched into creative cover tunes by Pink Floyd, Neil Young and T Rex (among others). Singer/songwriter Kris Brown (who plays the club every Tuesday night with his band, Family Sauce) got up to sing a couple songs on his own and then helped out on a blissfully ragged version of The Beatles' "Don't Pass Me By." Drummer Kevin Hartnell also crowded on to the tiny stage to play hand drum on several songs, and Hickey even had the bartender do 60 seconds of wince-inducing (but entertaining) stand-up. The unexpected and interactive nature of the performance made for a cool, rare and completely charming night of music. - Cincinnati CityBeat February 22, 2001


The ubiquitous Ric Hickey takes a moment
from his eclectic life to release an impressive new CD
If you ask him real nice, Ric Hickey might just tell you this has been the greatest week of his adult life. After much anticipation -- his and ours -- his debut CD, Wreck Loose, has finally arrived from the printer, and he literally could not be happier.
In short order, he gets written up in CityBeat, The Post and The Enquirer, lands an unplugged two-songs-and-chat session on WEBN's morning yak-fest, "The Dawn Patrol," and hosts a record release fest at Top Cat's. Not a bad week by anyone's yardstick.
Hickey snakes through the Top Cat's crowd, slapping backs and shaking hands, and finally climbs the stage for a solo acoustic set. He's the textbook example of unbridled joy. All of the concrete that the Russians used to cap Chernobyl cannot contain the smile on his face.
Hickey tosses together a few tunes from Wreck Loose ("Aim to Please," "First Lasting Only"), a couple of new cuts ("Alone in the Universe," "See You Soon"), a string of flat-out fabulous instrumentals ("Pace," "Dugout" and "Thumper") and covers running the gamut from Van Halen's "Could This Be Magic" to the unrecorded Raisins gem "My Friend the King." He eventually finishes with "Hands on the Wheel" by Willie Nelson.
The acoustic set takes considerably longer than anticipated, due to an uncooperative E-string that breaks during "See You Soon." Hickey looks bemused as he notes to the audience, "This fucking thing will be 12 minutes long before I'm done." This raises a huge response from the assembled faithful. When the E breaks again, he decides against a second string change on the fly, announcing, "I'm switching to the electric guitar." He finishes the set with his Telecaster, the one that matches his right shoulder tattoo.
After a quick break, Hickey joins stand-up bassist Matt Anderson and drummer Dan Leonard to retake the stage, confirming what many of us already suspect: Ric Hickey is among the finest guitar players in Cincinnati. Hickey and the Loose Wrecks (previously the Sawney Bean Blues Band) peel off more cool covers, from Slim Harpo's "I've Been Your Good Thing" (which closes Wreck Loose) to a jazzy cocktail guitar reading of The Simpsons theme.
Continuing the mellow counterpoint, the band slinks through the lounge classic "Fly Me to the Moon" and chases it with a scotch-and-soda Swing version of the Stooges' "Dirt" that's indescribably appropriate. The subdued version of Hickey's "Everybody's Bizness" is followed up with Dylan's plaintive "Abandoned Love."
At set's end, someone calls out for Zappa.
"Never heard of him," deadpans Hickey, and the band launches a stripped down version of "Mr. Green Genes" that mutates into a Loose Wrecks jam to close out the festivities. Hickey hugs Anderson and slaps skin with Leonar90, his smile accentuated by an intense glow of satisfaction. A good week indeed.
The initial response to Wreck Loose has been cautiously positive. Hickey has been sporadically faulted for his broad mix of Blues, Jazz and Pop and advised to pick a format. He has little interest in playing that conformist game of musical chairs. Even a superficial glance at his career path points up the fact that a single pigeonhole simply
won't suffice in his case. He is his generation's version of the Renaissance man.
"If I don't have 12 simple Pop songs, I can't release a whole record," Hickey says of the disc's style shift. "That's where the whole concept of filler, and just plain dull records, comes into play. It is all different. And that was sort of the point."
Born Richard James in 1967 in Cincinnati, Hickey acquired his first guitar when he was 11 and soon found himself in jam-in-the-basement mode in his West Chester neighborhood. His first band, Bratfish, a high school aggregation that played covers at friends' parties, eventually morphed into the estimable Speed Hickeys, which had a run of nearly four years in the Clifton scene. The Hickeys managed to release one 7-inch single and a seven-song cassette EP before packing it in. Hickey has more than fond memories of the band that gave him his nom du Rock.
"An old girlfriend overheard a couple fighting, and the woman said she was gonna whap a big old speed hickey upside his head," says Hickey of the band's origin. "Which, I think, is some sort of skin bruise when someone grazes you. So that's what we named the band. There was this contingent of fans that came to be known as Hickeyheads, and they started calling us by that name because they didn't know our last names. I became Ric Hickey. I more or less assumed it, based on the line of work I wanted to get into. The confusion factor (with Funk star Rick James) is so high."
The Speed Hickeys might not have been the most proficient band in the local scene, but they were certainly among the most entertaining. During one show at Sudsy Malone's, the pizzas that Hickey had ordered showed up duri - Cincinnati CityBeat September 25, 1997


"bittersweetheart" 2007
"A Pool And A Pond" 2002
"Toulouse-Lautrec" 2000
"Wreck Loose" 1997
- and numerous live CDs handed out free at gigs and elsewhere.



For over 20 years, singer/songwriter/guitarist Ric Hickey has been an active fixture on the Cincinnati music scene. Beginning in the mid 80s with the seminal Pop Punk band The Speed Hickeys, he continued throughout the 90s and into the 21st century both in solo acoustic performances and with his ever-evolving band The Loose Wrecks.

Hickey's brand of Rock Music defies direct comparisons, drawing inspiration from the great Blues, Jazz, Country, and Folk music of early to mid 20th century America. With influences as diverse as Willie Nelson, The Rolling Stones, and Frank Zappa, Hickey creates a music that is wholly original. The one common theme that runs throughout is his unique and inimitable guitar playing. Whether performing alone on acoustic guitar or stretching out in a lengthy improv with his band The Loose Wrecks, Ric Hickey has been heralded as being among the finest guitarists in Cincinnati.

Ric's wildly diverse spectrum of original material is difficult to convey with just 3 songs, as represented here on SonicBids. Interested parties are strongly advised to check out additional Ric Hickey songs at: www.myspace.com/richickey