Wow. Next to the word “jamband” in the dictionary, there could be a picture of Steve Kimock and his boys. Last night in Solana Beach, CA, just north of San Diego, Steve and his band dropped yet another bomb of musical exploration, experimentation, and downright nasty funk grooves. I had seen Steve before with other groups of musicians, but this was my first time seeing him with this ensemble, and it was easily the most impressive yet. If you’re looking for intimacy at your next live show, hit the Belly Up. With an “in-the-round” style set-up and wood as far as the eye can see, it was the perfect setting for musical bliss.
The show started with an ambient, spacey jam before dropping directly into "Tangled Hangers," which got both the Kimock first-timers as well as the veterans moving nicely. The one word that seems to always stick with me when I hear Steve is smooth. I can count on one hand the number of axe players whose sound flows so fluidly from the amps that you just have to stand in awe, and here was one of them 10 feet in front of me.
I was in attendance with several good friends who, like myself, happen to be big Meters fans, so when “Cissy Strut” kicked in as the 2nd real jam, shit-eating grins prevailed. Those grins stuck around for the next 4 hours or so. I’m all about the funk, and there was no shortage here. George Porter himself would have been proud of this rendition, full of flavor and crowd pleasing licks. Another favorite of the first set was "Ice Cream Factory," a song I have on a 12/1/00 recording which I can’t seem to yank from my CD changer. By this point, most people in the joint were groovin’, impressed, and generally starting to feel satisfied. We had little clue that SKB was just getting warmed up, and it was obvious they were having fun. A very nice "Better Get Hit" > Drums, "Better Get Hit In Your Soul" closed out a wonderful first set with some jaw-dropping drum work by Rodney Holmes and of course more crazy improv by Steve on the Stratocaster.
A lengthy setbreak gave everyone a chance to enjoy some fresh ocean air, get irie, reflect, and re-charge for another dose of silky smooth sounds from the SKB. "A New Africa" opened up the 2nd set with nice energy, and I found myself now enjoying the bass lines of Bobby Vega quite a bit. It can be hard to notice Steve’s supporting cast at times when he’s constantly laying down such beautiful melodies, but make no mistake: this band has a cohesiveness that was truly tight.
My friend Mike had said before the show all he really wanted was a nice "Hillbillies on PCP" (best song name ever?), and mid 2nd set he got it. More poop grins. At this point everything seemed like a bonus, just gravy. Incredible musical climaxes began coming in waves fairly often now. You know, the ones were people just have to yell out “Whoooo!!” in pure joy before they burst. After a great set closer of "You’re the One," and some light banter, the boys came back out to the delight of the still full Belly-Up crowd. Appropriately capping off the night of funk and wizardry was the "Five B4 Funk" encore, and B4 I knew it the tired but devoted crowd was hoppin’ again. The 2nd set was so long (11:30 – 1:40), intense, and full of quality, that I had a hard time remembering the last time my expectations had been surpassed by so much.
Needless to say, I’ll be preaching the Gospel of the Steve Kimock Band for a while, and I wish I could do it all over again tonight in Santa Barbara, but alas, I’ll have to wait until... Saturday! Steve Kimock Band is the final highlight in an amazing line-up at the Funkyard Fest in Long Beach, CA. on May 19th.
Cheers, and GO SEE LIVE MUSIC!
JamBase San Diego Correspondent
05/17/01 Belly Up Tavern - Solano Beach, CA
Set 1: Tangled Hangers, Poonk > Cissy Strut > Poonk, 54-46, Ice Cream Factory, Better Get Hit, Drum solo, Better Get Hit In Your Soul
Set 2: A New Africa, Moon People, Why Can't We All Just Samba, Hillbillies on PCP, with only Bobby and Rodney playing, You're the One, E: Five B4 Funk