Danville duo reunites, set to release first record
By Lou Fancher
Rehearsals for the Danville-based band Lindy's Kitchen used to mean homemade spaghetti, brownies and fear, according to guitarist/songwriter Chris Carter.
"Mike (Lickiss) and I met when we were students at Saint Mary's College in 1993," says Carter. The band named itself after Lickiss' mother, Lindy, who cooked dinner for the four hungry college students when they'd visit the family's home to practice. "They had a detached garage. It was, like, 100 years old, and I always thought the roof would cave in when we played."
The roof held up and the band sputtered on-and-off for the next 20 years, playing at events and parties, performing covers at local bars and restaurants including the recently shuttered Pyramid Ale, and even recording a full-length CD in the late 1990s. As expected, children, careers and other facts of life interloped and caused the band to dissolve.
Recently reincarnated as the LK Project and featuring Lickiss, 40, and Carter, 41, the two founding band members, will appear at Bothwell Arts Center May 27 to premiere and release their first record as a duo.
"Since its just me and Mike, we didn't want to call ourselves Lindy's Kitchen, so we're calling this the LK Project," Carter said. "Basically we're just two working dads who are great friends and have always loved writing and performing music together."
When they opened in 2015 for another local performer, Dave Land (Land will return the favor by opening for their Bothwell show), with original songs Lickiss had been writing, they earned an enthusiastic response. Not only the crowd, but Martinez-based producer and Artists in Music record label owner Mike Peterson liked their sound. "He told us we sound better together than either of us sounds apart," says Carter.
Subsequently, Carter, by day the Development Director at Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center, and Lickiss, a financial planner, have been spending three to four hours on average two nights each week since November laying down tracks for the new CD.
They say family comes first -- each is married and a father of three children under the age of 12.
"Over the years we played at Pyramid, they'd come to the show and help take down equipment afterwards. They were my little roadies, in one respect," says Lickiss.
Although he says his ideal setup as a teenager was a Jimmy Page approach -- a Les Paul electric guitar and huge, vintage Marshall amp -- Lickiss now totes a Taylor acoustic guitar. Carter the same.
Separately, they write songs, then bring them together for fine-tuning and completion. Carter says Lickiss writes more of the lyrics, but Lickiss says that's less true of the new material.
Their stylistic range isn't enormous, but with Elvis Costello, Johnny Cash, Black Crows and other rock and blues artists influencing their writing and performing, strong vocals, powerful melodies and heartfelt lyrics are characteristic of their sound.
"At Arms Length" is a song Lickiss wrote about wanting something that's just out of reach. The chorus is simple, open for interpretation: "Now I ask, do you see/Am I dreaming of what will never be/Now I ask, with shaking knees/Could it be that this was meant for me."
Lickiss says that his songs come from multiple sources. "Events, relationships, reading something -- ideas just pour out. Other times there's a melody and then a song comes. There's no set method. When inspiration hits, I play a song 45 times until I get the itch scratched. It drives my wife crazy."