Steve Kimock Band | Crystal Ballroom | Portland, OR | 4.18.03

After a 15 month hiatus, the Steve Kimock Band once again graced Portland’s Crystal Ballroom stage with yet another special experience last Friday evening. Kimock, and the earlier band incarnations he has used as the core for his music, always seems to hold a certain fondness for the City of Roses and the Crystal, and he conveys it with the gift of stellar music. This near-capacity performance was no exception.

photo by Tony Stack
Opening with a wide-open, beautiful “Cole’s Law,” Kimock set the tone for the evening by laying a spatial groundwork of texture, pace, and imagination. A spacey, unhurried segue into “Tangled Hangers” followed, to the delight of the audience. SKB then jumped into a superbly played “Rainbow’s Cadillac,” with a gorgeous bass solo from Arne Livingston, as well as another tasty guitar romp from Mitch Stein – the crowd loved it!

A Rodney Holmes drumfest segued into “Sabertooth,” with the band opening up for fun and varied exploration. This piece changes constantly, and has developed into a smoother and quite enjoyable vehicle for experimentation. With Kimock on his acoustic/electric octave mandolin, and with Stein starting on 6-string acoustic before moving back to electric, the interplay between loops and noises, tones and improv clearly showed that the band had fun with this one! The set-closer, “Tongue-n-Groove,” was deep and splendid, just as it should be.

“Hillbillies On PCP” throttled the second set into action – what a romp! For me, this song has always worked as a kind of “music cop” for Kimock. When it’s working, they’re on – and tonight they were on! This was a near picture-perfect outing, especially the new section that I fondly dub the “Cosmic Hoe-Down.” Yee-haw!

“The Long Form (Part 1)” and “Avalon,” both of which tend to be deep and thoughtful improvisational journeys within, were further evidence of the band’s awesome creative powers Friday night, and within both themes SKB stretched out to share its finest with the Portland audience.

During “Hillbillies,” and again later in “You’re The One,” bassist Arne Livingston continued to show his skills and imagination. Trial by fire on tour has worked for Arne – he was nudging the music up a notch all evening! Let’s hope that Arne feels the same way, although the near-constant smiles on his face indicated that he was having as much fun as was the audience. Guitarist Mitch Stein provided his usually wonderful texture, color and rhythm, as well as tasty and innovative leads in several songs. Rodney Holmes continued to dazzle with his percussive shamanism, and he was better than ever in reading SKB’s musical dynamics to know when to add spice or let it simmer.

All of this, combined with Steve Kimock’s amazing ability to just keep getting better and better as an innovative and creative guitarist, bodes well for the rest of this tour and beyond. Salt Lake City and Denver – don’t miss the Steve Kimock Band as they bring the Back Home Tour 2003 to a close!

Tom Baylis
JamBase | Oregon
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[Published on: 5/5/03]

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