To call multi-instrumentalist and lead vocalist Lyndon Sickmeier a prolific songwriter may be an understatement.
Sickmeier, of Alton, has written more than 1,000 original songs since 1966, when he starting playing guitar at age 11.
His son, Nathan Sickmeier, also showed musical talent as a child and began playing on his own drum set at age 3. The two are now playing together in Mars Needs Guitars, a local blues, rock band named after a 1967 science fiction film, Mars Needs Women.
Lyndon is the lead vocalist and guitar player, and Nathan plays guitar, keyboards, trumpet, electric violin and drums while helping with vocals. The father-son duo is joined by John Scanlon (bass guitar) and Larry Vandiver (drums and vocals) to complete the complex groove characteristic of the band’s music.
The band was formed shortly after Lyndon’s former band BLTJ broke up in 2012, and the band has been playing a lot of local venues ever since. All that practice really shines through on the band’s first album, “Mason City Sessions.”
“Most of the songs on ‘Mason City Sessions’ are ones we have been playing live for months, two or three times a week,” Lyndon said. “When we went into the studio, the songs were tight, and we were ready to go. All but two of the tracks on the album are first takes. The music was basically recorded live in the studio.”
The tracks on the album certainly do not sound live. Every note is on-point but heartfelt. The songs are rich and full of musical texture, with a familiar beat that is simultaneously distinctive. The band sounds seasoned and professional already with just one album under its belt.
Lyndon said the influence of British rock and blues guitarists like Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix certainly can be heard on “Mason City Sessions,” which includes 13 original songs and one cover of Merle Travis’ “Sixteen Tons” that features Nathan on electric violin.
“Mason City Sessions” was recorded in Mason City, Ill., at Jim Nigra’s home studio, where the band camped out for two days while recording two separate sessions.
“Jim has been recording me since the early 1990s,” Lyndon said. “We went into his studio and recorded in two long, marathon sessions. There’s going to be a ‘Mason City Sessions II’ because there’s a lot of stuff still in the can.”
The songs out of the can are gaining airplay on several radio stations, including KKID’s 92.9 FM, KDHX 88.1 and KGF Rocks Radio at www.kgfrocks.com.
Throughout Lyndon’s musical career, the recording and distributing aspects of the music industry have changed drastically.
“It used to be to get a really great recording, you would have to go into an expensive studio,” Lyndon said. “Now you can get a killer recording in your own home. It’s just a world of difference. When I was a teenager and in my early 20s, to have any kind of distribution, you had to be connected to a certain label. Right now it is DIY, and that’s a good thing. It is a lot easier to get the music out there.”
In fact, fans can listen to the entire album on SoundCloud at www.soundcloud.com/lyndon-sickmeier and watch footage from the studio recordings on YouTube at www.youtube.com/user/JTNuploads.
Physical copies of the CD can be purchased at any MNG concert or by request at the band’s Facebook page, MNG Band - Mars Needs Guitars.
MNG will be the opening band during Music Fest III at the Alton-Wood River Sportsmen’s Club Saturday, Aug. 15. Other bands performing during the event include Broseph E. Lee, the Devon Allman Band, Shooting Star and Eddie Money.
“We always put on a high-energy show with eclectic material that is a mixture of original and classic songs,” Lyndon said.
For MNG booking information, call Lyndon Sickmeier at (618) 604-3153.
Upcoming Mars Needs Guitars concerts
July 10: Wild Pickins Winery, Chesterfield, Ill., 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
July 11: Chez Marilyn, Alton, 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.
July 18: The Airliner, East Alton, 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Aug. 1: Mike’s Tenpin
Aug. 6: The Barnett on Washington, St Louis, 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Aug. 8: Freddy’s
Aug. 13: Grafton Music In The Park, Grove Memorial Park, Grafton, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Aug. 14: Ted’s Motorcycle World, Godfrey, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Aug. 15: Coors Light Music Fest III , Alton-Wood River Sportsmen’s Club, Godfrey
Aug. 22: Tubby’s, St. Charles, Mo.
Aug. 28: Shaker’s, Alton, 8:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.
Aug. 29: Piasa Winery & Pub, Grafton, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.