The attempt to sum up the life of a guy like Lucas Hicks, is an impossible endeavor. He was a remarkable person, who made so many friends, created so many laughs, played so much music, and fully lived so many days. It leaves one wondering where to begin or end. Really, there isn’t one way to approach remembering or describing Lucas. So we present to you a collection of stories to help paint a part of the picture that is our man, Luke.
–compiled by Devin Champlin
The first time I met Lucas was at the Darrington Bluegrass Festival. It was late at night, and my band the Nooksack Valley Boys were in fine form, and we were just having a great time, and Lucas was performing what people nowadays call “satellite jamming”, playing along off to the side. And I was tuning my banjo, which as you know is a constant endeavor, and I looked up and I saw him, hiding behind a tree. I said, “What’re you doin’ over there?! Peeping Tom, c’mon.” And I brought him over to a picnic table about thirty feet away from where the guys were playing. I said, “Well, show me what you got.” And boy was I surprised. I could tell he just started playing the banjo, but he was playing with perfect timing. And then I noticed that he was singing at the same time. Now, a banjo isn’t the same as any other instrument, because your right hand is going ba-da-da-da-da in these patterns that are changing all the time, but your left hand is going to the frets before you play the note. So it isn’t exactly an easy thing for your brain to get. You have to do it a million times. Lucas did not need a million times, and he could sing at the same time he was playing. I knew I was witnessing someone who was special. So we went over, and he had three songs he knew from stem to stern, that he could sing and play, and after we did them a few times I called the boys over. And the boys knew the songs he was doing so everybody sang in 3 and 4 part harmonies with him, and Lucas was in charge of the bluegrass band at that moment. He did really well.. spent the whole night there till 8 o’clock in the morning or so, and it was really a treat, and I thought, “That kid’s on the right path.” And then two months later, I was living on Toledo St hill, and Lucas moved two doors down from me. The neighbor heard him playing banjo and said, “Hey if wanna play banjo, you oughta go talk to that guy next door.” And so Lucas called me, and I said “Yeah, c’mon up now”. At that time I was working on a 1968 Volvo Station Wagon that I had restored. He comes up the driveway and goes, “Hey! You’re that crazy guy!” And after that, I swear he had a look out.. every time he saw my car come home from work, he’d run up there, and we’d play till twelve o’clock at night, for probably 3 years. Then he’d bring up his roommates, and we started a band, The Scrimshaw Boys.
Wrist Rockets in Colorado
Luke and I both got new wrist rocket sling shots in 8th grade and coincidentally he had been collecting tin juice lids too. It turns out that these juice lids fly like “hyper Frisbees” when shot out of a wrist rocket. Luke and I got the bright idea of shooting them and rocks at the neighbors house. Soon the neighbor (who we thought was a friend of Luke’s brother John but wasn’t) came in the back yard and asked us “what the shit?” we thought we were doing. He squeezed our necks as hard as he could and left. We spent the rest of the night cowering in Luke’s kitchen with the lights off in case he came back. Haha!
“Bike Gang of Doom”
A few old school Bellinghamsters might remember this one…Luke and I started a bicycle gang which we called “The Bike Gang of Doom” or “BGOD” for short in the early 2000’s. It consisted of us and other hippie dirtbags riding around Bellingham and eating burritos/swimming. Luke and I were eating burritos at Casa Que Pasa (as we did every day) and thought we should have an end of summer bike gang event. We came up the idea of jumping our bikes through a 10 foot ring of fire. Our roomate Jason made the ring out of conduit and on the big day we tied rags soaked in lamp oil to it and lit it up. There was Luke, Ian, Porc and I and about 20 other folks that rode through the ring of fire naked. There was a group of people from New York that happened to be in town that day and filmed it. We never saw the film. We did talk to the cops about how many laws we broke but managed to talk them out of giving us any tickets. Yay!
I had allowed Lucas to sit in my music chair, you know the chair? (Jordan takes me to the porch to show a burly old school lawn chair with a bouncy spring-steel frame, and customized with a thick cherry wood slab for the seat and back.) So he was sitting in that chair, playing, and for whatever reason Ian (Voorhees) was flipping Lucas shit. I don’t know what exactly happened or what was going on, but Ian didn’t stop, and then he said something, and Lucas flew out of that chair, that spring activated chair, so fast it was incredible. And this was back when Lucas was built, he had arms you know, and his neck, and.. he was just a beefcake. He flew out of that chair and WHACK! And he had kicked a hole in the lower bout of that bass. He didn’t damage the front of the bass, or the back, he had just kicked a perfect hole right in the side.
Bass Kicker part 2
Ah, yes, the old hole in the bass story. Well, I can’t remember which spring loaded chair Lucas was sitting in, but I do remember a few other details. that was at Craig and Laurilees bachelor / bachelorette party. I’d just come up with a new twist on the boilermaker. It consisted of a 16 oz can of Sparks fortified with a mini bottle of Southern Comfort, let’s call it a troublemaker. I had a couple of those hampering my thought process, and I was READY TO PLAY SOME GODDAMN MUSIC! WOOOO!! Luke had just gotten his new, fancy, heavy, green-tinted banjo. I decided it would be a good idea to rub the strings of my bass across the strings of his new banjo while we were playing. He didn’t agree, pulled away and told me to cut it out, so of course I did it again. He just did what any sensible person would do under the circumstances, and fended me off with his boot. Well, said boot was also properly mis-calibrated by a couple of libations and ended up sticking out of the bottom of my bass. I’ve always maintained that the extra hole opened up the breathing of that bass and made it sound better.
Crazy Mat Guy
Lucas Hicks was so fun To be with. Some of my favorite times with him when we were on the road, traveling and playing music. We’d fool around and geek out like little kids… Making dumb jokes and weird faces. Usually we’d have a mess of practical jokes we’d roost on. They’d hatch into their own thing, either becoming these long-winded improvisations that involved some sort of physical comedy, laughing until it hurt, and somebody (namely me), spraining my face from it all. Lucas loved to abbreviate jokes too. As the days would roll by, some jokes would become condensed into a neurotic gesture or half second pantomime, sporting the most freakishly grotesk face you could muster. Hence, the face spraining. This kind of silliness matches the humor in with my own family. There’s not too many people I’ve met that are my brand of silly, but Lucas Hicks was certainly one of them.
It was the NWFolklife Festival and our band, the Crow Quill Night Owls teamed up with our good pals the Gallus brothers, as we often did years ago. It was a typical day for Folklife, rainy, gray and crowded. We were busking our last set of the day, and getting soaked, when a 50 Person Drum Circle formed across from us. We could not compete with their volume, so we decided to throw the towel in, or in Lucas’ case: the mat. So Lucas would play this awesome suitcase drum set that he made, (if you don’t already know), and he would set this up on a mat, to prevent it from slipping around. That day , As we packed up our instruments in the steady drizzle, we all began to passively gyrate to the rapture of the escalating hippie drum circle throwdown. It was now twice the size it had been a few minutes before. Ladies were half- topping it, doing their best versions of belly dance and bounce, kids were jumping around and streaking the area, screaming bloody murder, and dudes stood by, nodding their heads.. feeling it, feeling it hard. I think someone broke out a xylophone, and Lucas Hicks… Lucas. Became. Crazy Mat Guy. Somehow, in lieu of shaking the rain from his mat, he was taken over by the rhythm of the drums. I looked over through the mist to see Lucas moving, almost as if puppeted, in a slow steady tai chi-like pace, veiling his own head, with his own rubber mat. His eyes intensely focused and far away. Then suddenly he’d snap The mat away, like a Methamphetamine crazed Matador with his muleta. Then, back into a slow-motion trance of contortion and gyration, all the while managing the mat, a fat awkward veil, with masterful grace and maniacal intensity, in perfect synchronicity to the bongo orchestra. Each set of intricate overly exaggerated choreographies ended with a twitching eyed stare, and an angry flick of his mat, to dry it out… Because he was still just shaking the water from his mat, so he could pack up his stuff…But while he was at it, Bewildering us with amusement. Kit tried to tip him a buck, but Lucas whipped his mat at his hand, slapping it. We called out things like “wow it’s Crazy Mat Guy!” And , “OMG I can’t believe it, is it really him?!!!” Or “I’ve never seen him in person!!!”, and “whoaaaa, he’s incredible!”
A gal stopped, a half smile on her face… She looked as if she didn’t know if it was OK to laugh. She dropped a dollar in Lucas’s hat (which had fallen off his head during this fit of passion), and walked off with a giggle. That was it. She baited the kitty. A small group formed to watch the amazing.. the epic.. the legendary, Crazy Mat Guy. That was the first and last time we ever saw ole Mat Guy. However, we did get to enjoy spontaneous performances by “Crazy Tent Pole dude “and “Bizarre Glowing Giant Pulsating Raver Orb, Dirty Dancing in Baby Gramps‘s face guy.”
We were on our way back from Burning Man, I think. We were camping in the redwoods. As we were setting up camp, Luke saw a skunk slinking around in the nearby underbrush. He says “oh, great, a skunk. It’s going to come mess with me.” Huh, what do you mean? So he tells us about camping another time and waking up with a skunk sitting on his chest, which is funny and all, but doesn’t mean this one has the same sorts of ideas, right? Sure as shit, he wakes up in the middle of the night with skunk paws on his forehead, skunk eyes gazing longingly into his own. Must be his spirit animal.
We were in Petersburg, Alaska and the bar we were playing at put us up in the “band house”, which was a single wide trailer. There was some board games in the living room, and we pulled out “Go” the Chinese strategy game, but neither of us knew how to play. After getting bored trying to make up rules for a little while, we found that if you held three of the pieces between your thumb and finger and squeeze, the middle piece would fly out at high speed. We took turns aiming at various things around the room and eventually the game became shooting the pieces at each other while trying not to flinch. Amazingly neither of us lost an eye. Then we learned a really good dice game (ship captain crew) from some of the folks in the neighborhood, before heading to the bar to play a three hour set of music for two people who mostly watched TV.. it was probably the least fun show we ever played, but at least we learned fun games. Later on that same trip, we played one of the funnest and longest sets of music we ever played together at Rose’s in Pelican. On that night we watched the sun set, saw our good friends Foghorn Stringband play at the bar next door, played our set while witnessing dancing, revelry, nudity, drunken mayhem, and other assorted shenanigans. We finished our set at around 6 in the morning by walking out of the bar, playing waltzes under the already light sky on the boardwalk. And then we bowled on a plywood lane laid out in a dirt lot.
One of my favorites is the time we were on tour. Tony was driving the big, ugly van, Lyle was riding shotgun, I was sitting behind Lyle, and Luke was passed out on the bunk in back. I was looking out the front at the road, which was starting to curve to the left, but we weren’t. I realized Tony was falling asleep, and we were about to plunge off the side of the road and down a hill, so I panicked. I grabbed the back of Lyle’s seat and started shaking it as I screamed, which woke me up. As I woke up, I realized that Tony Had been calmly driving up the wide, straight highway. No longer. He had a look of abject terror as he looked around, trying to figure out what was going to hit us. I think Lyle just about had a heart attack. They both yelled out some form of “what the @#$%^&*&^%$ is going on?!?” “Oh, sorry, I guess I was dreaming” Some how Luke was sleeping through the whole thing. Anyhoo, those of us in the front finally wound down enough to start laughing about it. Well, at least I was. After a couple of minutes had passed, we were pretty much just quietly driving down the road again, amazed at Luke’s ability to sleep through my blood curdling screech. There was a sudden thrashing sound from the back, accompanied by Luke’s feet and a tangled up sleeping bag trying to exit the bunk in a hurry. “Oh, hey Luke, you awake?” no answer. Just a Wild eyed mop of hair trying to climb over me and get the side door open an 60 miles per hour. It took some doing to dissuade him, he was very determined. Finally, he came to enough to explain that he had heard the whole thing, but was unable to act for that two minutes or so, he knew we were going to crash and had to get out of the van. Tony and Lyle finally found the humor in the situation. Luke did eventually as well.
Jenny Rose, Luke’s partner of the last decade, told me this story about their first date. He had asked her if she wanted to go fishing. Yeah sure, she said, but couldn’t get together til that evening. No problem. He picked her up and took her to Little Squalicum Beach, and Jenny somehow trusted this handsome beardo as they walked down the shoreline under the darkening sky. Did they have fishing rods? Well, he had brought some willow branches, and string, and a tackle box of sorts. They sat down and soon Lucas was shuffling around as he set out to arranging his objects, and filling up a bucket with water, and attaching the string to the willow branches and then they started “fishing”. Lucas had dropped assorted metal knick-knacks and wingnuts and other mendorite objects into the bucket, and now they were fishing them out with magnets tied on the end of the line on the willow rods. He called it “silly fishing”.
-Jenny Rose as told to Devin Champlin
Greasing the Pan
After high school one day Luke and I were in his kitchen and we were talking about how greasy his hair was. He pretended to “grease” a cookie sheet that his mom (Glenna) had just pulled out of the oven shortly before. He burned all of his finger tips and slept all night with his hands in a bowl of water. Classic!
Motorcycle Riding in Colorado/Bellingham
Luke was good at many things but riding motorcycles wasn’t at the top of the list. When we were 10ish I brought my dirt bike (Honda 100) over to his house when he lived by the desert. He was in front of me on his new Kawasaki and all of the sudden I saw a big puff of dust as he hit a boulder head on. I rode up and lifted the visor on his helmet and he said, “go get my parents”. I started laughing hysterically and then he started laughing. Eventually we walked the bikes back to his house and it turns out he broke his wrist.
Later on when we were 22ish Luke wanted a street bike after I bought a new one and we went to test drive one. The owner and I stood there as Luke took off, spinning the tire and flying sideways through a lawn and a ditch (somehow not crashing). The owner said, “that was crazy shit” with terror in his eyes.
Various Tidbits (Craig Schultz)
-Luke once dared himself to chug a whole gallon of water at Burning Man and felt sick the rest of the day
-Luke and I used to Rollerblade 8 hours a day
-Luke once broke up with a high school girlfriend for 5 dollars on a bet (from me)
-Luke and I used to “fake fight” all of time and act out movie fight scenes. On one occasion I broke his nose on accident and he reset it himself.
Nerd Travels and Card Planting
I’ve traveled quite a bit with Hicks.
We’ve been smooshed together in the back of a Toyota van with a back door that didn’t work, where we had to crawl in and out through the front seats. We’ve been sardined together in the back of a short bus packed with dancers, musicians, suitcases and pieces of our stage that we would assemble and disassemble every night. Traveled in cars, ferrys, golf carts, in a 40 foot RV with Maria Muldaur, and once watched an episode of Star Trek the next generation together in a plane. We’d both seen the episode before though, because we’ve independently seen every single episode multiple times cause we’re also total nerds.
On long tours, we’d always look for comic book stores together when we’d get to a new town.
The first time we went to the Fantagraphics store in Seattle, I found a room that said “adult” on it. I walked in and started looking for R. Crumb and Dave Cooper comics. After a few minutes Lucas poked his head in from around the corner, came in and we both started checking out all the filthy smut in there! We were standing there laughing at the ridiculously pornographic titles, when we noticed a person round the corner and start to come in. It was a woman, who upon seeing us, stopped dead in her tracks and turned on a dime right out of the room. We looked at each other, laughing, because we couldn’t help but seeing it from her perspective- two weirdos in the adult section that looked like they just finished tying someone to the train tracks in an old silent film, both wearing full length black coats with giant beards and big hats, reading comics titled “Bozongas” and “Anal Intruders From Uranus”. Yeah, I’d probably turn on a dime too.
Some comic book stores were filled with more stuff than we’d have time to look at, while others, we could instantly size up and tell didn’t have much of what we were looking for. It was in the latter kind of store where we got “the card”. That morning we had looked up a handful of comic shops and were making the rounds, when we walked into one place and could immediately tell it wasn’t what we were looking for. It had mostly sports cards and mainstream superhero titles. No R. Crumb, no Jim Woodring, no weird underground stuff, but the guy behind the counter was really friendly and was desperately trying to be accommodating. He tried to get us to stay and look around, but we told him we had to go. He urged us to “come back then”, but we told him we were just passing through town. “Well, at least take a business card” he says. “We probably won’t be back for at least a year” said Lucas. “You can give it to your friends” he pleaded. Hicks got this quiet look he’d sometimes get when he was doing something he wasn’t that into as he took the card. On the walk back we both talked about how we were probably never going to go back to that store in our lives… and also, that we now had this card we were never going to use or give to anyone, but we felt bad for the guy and didn’t have the heart to throw it away either. Later that day I found Hicks had put the card in my sketchbook… So I snuck it into his bag the next day, only to find it a few days later in my backpack. I’d sneak it to him, he’d sneak it back to me. I’d put it in his jacket, then go onstage one night, open my guitar case, and there it was wedged in-between the strings. The card has been all around the united states. Snuck inside suitcases, left in medicine cabinets and even taped to the dashboard of me and Alex’s van.
This went on for a few years. Once after a long tour, Hicks dropped myself and Alex off at the airport. As we were saying our goodbyes he reached up and touched my hat. “Has your hat always had these light markings on it right here?” he asked. I told him how it had been bleached by the sun years and years and years ago. “huh, I never noticed it before” he said.
It wasn’t till after the TSA checkpoint that I went to the bathroom, looked in the mirror only to see the card sticking out of the band on my hat. “Sunovabitch… He got me good this time”. To my knowledge, this sneaking back and fourth of items, started with him and Devin on Gallus Brothers tours, only it was a box of suppositories for some reason. I was also snuck the suppositories a few times. Lucas had a way of making you feel like you were a part of things.
That you were in on the inside joke, and we had a lot of them. As simple as that may sound, it’s one of the many magical things about him. Lucas had many friends. I’m honored I got to be one of them. He also had many adventures, and I’m lucky enough to have shared in some. I love Lucas and I will miss him. So many times, playing music, I’ve looked over at him to see him with a smile I’ll never forget. It was a smile, but it was more than just a smile too. It was a look like he knew something that went beyond what you were all physically doing in that moment. And although you couldn’t put your finger on it, you knew it too… And it felt good.
-Kit Stymee Stovepipe
Lucas, Nov 17, 1986 (8 years old)
I wish I had two wishes
I wish I could communicate with
animals and lazers could apere
any where I whant them to.
If my wish came true
I would feel the lazer.