Words by: Zack Sampsel | Images by: Rob Burgess
Chris Berry Trio with Steve Kimock :: 03.01.10 :: Ukiah Brewing Company :: Ukiah, CA
The Chris Berry Trio returned to the certified organic confines of the Ukiah Brewing Company once again, this time with guitar legend Steve Kimock in tow, and gave the Redwood Empire crowd a lesson in feel-good fun and psychedelic exploration.
|Kimock & Berry - CB3 :: 03.01 :: Ukiah, CA|
The evening began with a solo set from Steven Bates on acoustic guitar, who at first struck me as a woodsy version of James Blunt mixed with the voice of Bob Dylan. As the crowd packed in, Bates utilized a strong catalog of covers to raise the temperature on a damp Monday night. Launching into a strong rendition of The Beatles' "A Day in the Life," Bates evoked some Phish-y thoughts and a sing-along from the eclectic and equally colorful crowd. Bates also showed off his mandolin skills with a heartfelt rendition of Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds" that immediately had this Widespread Panic fan thinking of John Bell and the Marley raps he peppers throughout versions of "Stop-Go."
Previously when CB3 visited Ukiah last summer, Berry brought with him longtime friend and Panjea member Michael Kang of String Cheese Incident fame, but the revolving door of CB3 guest musicians had turned and with it came Steve Kimock. Throughout the nation, and the West Coast in particular, Kimock has made guest appearances with a plethora of bands and brings with him a legion of loyal followers - for good reason, too. Kimock, Berry and Aaron Johnston and Jesse Murphy, both of Brazilian Girls (though Murphy is no longer an active member), took the stage to show Ukiah just what they had up their sleeves.
Opening with "Come Away," Berry wasted no time in getting out his unique mbira and filling the Brew Co. with its xylophone-meets-organ sound, and the crowd loved it. From Kimock's upstroke guitar riffs to the bouncy, rolling tones of the mbira, the inimitable sound of CB3 was locked in and the kettle was starting to boil. I've come to expect that the soundscapes Berry and the band create can often be so rich that they're almost visual, and this show was more of the same.
|Kimock - CB3 :: 03.01 :: Ukiah, CA|
The previous CB3 show in Ukiah featuring Kang kept with a mostly island-like, calypso groove, but Kimock brought an entirely different flavor. With a row of effects pedals in front of him that looked like he could launch rockets, Kimock did just that. Following the opening verses of "Start Over Again," Berry said, "Take it, Stevie," and the ensuing solo dipped into an inspired jam that resonated through the room leaving mouths agape. Creating an almost Egyptian feel, Kimock took the jam into the depths of world beat downtempo before igniting the crowd with his fluid style of searing electronica and spacey interplay. Johnston and Murphy kept the first set flowing with a quick drum and bass solo as Kimock's nimble fingers danced up and down the fretboard over the top. From there, the band uncorked a track that sounded like something from The Disco Biscuits' catalog thanks to the flavorful combination of guitar and pedal magic.
If CB3's first set was all about structure and composed rhythm, then the second set was an experimental free-for-all with Kimock let loose on almost every track, stirring the crowd like a bowl of psychedelic soup. While Berry made up lyrics on the fly about the sky splitting Redwood trees of Mendocino County, the crowd stayed engaged as they fist pumped in unison. As the set drew to a close, Berry was in typical madman form onstage, multitasking between the bongos and mbira while keeping up with the vocals the whole time. With one track left, Kimock and Berry squeezed out the last of the crowd's energy with a huge jam that touched on elements of jungle, calypso and some old fashioned rock & roll. As the jam reached its final crescendo with Kimock's guitar placed in his lap, a good friend turned to me and gave a colorful conclusion about the show: "Steve Kimock is the Doctor Digital of the lap licks on guitar." I think that about sums it up.
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