Steve Kimock Band | 03.11.04 - 03.14.04 | Chester's Place | Fayetteville, AR

How could anyone try to explain the past, present, and future of the legendary Chester's Place in Fayetteville, Arkansas? As Kimock said himself, "the energy and life in this venue is truly unexplainable... indescribable." Well, I'm going to give it a try. I'll do my best to explain the magic and inspirational music that has flowed out of this one very special venue. I believe it is our sense of community and the mythical music lovers that has made it so historic. Steve Kimock and Chester's Place were a force of nature, one of those things that will be talked about forever.

Chester's opened in 1993 under Margie and Bu Waggoner. Chester himself was a black cat, Margie's baby when they first acquired the building located on Dickson Street, Fayetteville's main strip. Margie claimed Chester was the "smartest and most loving" of her animals, and instead of naming the club after one of themselves they decided to name it after the cat. In my opinion, the place did in fact live up to its name by providing a home for some of the "smartest and most loving" "cats" in town.

Chester's holds 250-300 people comfortably. The shows there are intimate and usually golden. The walls are ivory brick and dressed with various tie-dyes, large Persian rugs, and other wall tapestries that have some kind of feline theme. In the center of the room is a large disco ball that has provided countless hours of eye candy. The home base for my musical family, Chester's has changed my life for the better, and I've learned more here than any classroom. Countless magical, musical instances and epiphanies have spawned from Chester's, and its spirit will carry on.

Thursday March, 11

I had been out of town for nearly two weeks, pushing my flight back, knowing I was about to return to the unthinkable: the last three-night run of Steve Kimock at Chester's Place. I finally sucked it up after talking to some friends at home and got on a plane flying out of Oakland, CA. A few hours later I landed in Ft. Smith, drove an hour north to Fayetteville, walked straight into the show and bought the newly released Kimock DVD. As soon as I saw all the familiar faces and warm smiles I felt at ease. I realized that my music family will always be there for me and I will always be there for them--just like any family with real family values.

Kimock and Holmes
By Jeremy Scott :: Chester's 2004
The collaboration of the Steve Kimock Band musicians was appealing: Rodney "Lightning Limbs" Holmes (drums), Reed Mathis (bass), Jim Kost (keys), Martin Fierro (sax), Earl Cate (guitar), and Steve Kimock (plethora of lead guitars). The rhythm section of Reed and Rodney worked steadily all weekend, as it should have. Jim was the highlight on Thursday, Martin the man on Friday, and Kimock was absolutely glowing on Saturday.

I'm a young woman that has been experiencing Steve Kimock and his music for a mere six years. I'm not going to lie, I don't know half the songs name, but I sure do know the melody of almost all of them. The well-placed notes hit me in my heart at precisely the right moment and make my body move in ways I never had imagined. KVHW was the first band that got me and was so powerful that I walked out and saw the world through the eyes of a woman who was no longer a girl.

The Thursday show started off with "Bad Hair," an ugly name for such a pretty song. The magic continued with "Electric Wildlife." Rodney shows a great deal of stamina on each song, but he takes his talent to the extreme on this tune. One can really see how a drummer can make or break a song, or for that matter, a band! I was surprised when I asked a stranger next to me the name of the next song and he said "One for Brother Mike." I said, "You mean 'One for Brother Mike' Goodman." He paused and responded with a slow nod. We shared one of those comfortable silences that you rarely have with new people you meet.

Martin Fierro
By J. Scott :: Chester's 2004
The last song of the set was well chosen with a big surprise. "A New Africa" was played with special guest Martin Fierro. My buddy said, "Hey look there's Martin." I pushed him and exclaimed, "Get out!" then ran to the front to see for myself. Chester's hardly ever keeps a secret, especially one as big as Martin Fierro. I must say, "thank you Harold and Ira."

At first everyone was hanging back on the second set, but then I heard Martin tease a little "Shakedown Street" and it took off from there. "Elmer's Revenge" got a huge response from the crowd. This one is unmistakable for me as it has a huge build up of the run of scales into a nitty gritty back and forth chop of chords. I had to blink my eyes or keep them closed because of the intensity of the song. Kimock and the boys ended the night with "Avalon," which shakes off the eerie, dark moments that sometimes come with Kimock shows. I really like to let this song lift up my spirits with the faint and high-pitched chords that quickly shift to a rowdy get-down dance jam.

After the night was over and most of the people cleared out, I had a nice chat with Steve and Jim on the back patio, and want to share this story.

Ginelle: Do you remember the interview I had with you four years ago?

Kimock: (Looks over at Jim and smiles, obviously not.) I haven't read anything about myself since 1999. Because I see myself as more than just a guitar player... as a person, I don't like labels. I never want to get caught up in what other people are saying or printing about me. It's usually taken out of context.

Ginelle: I can relate, having just been published on an international level myself.

Kimock: (Jim and Kimock look at each other and smile then look back at me) Well, I like good questions.

Ginelle: Well I was told to call you for an interview at 10:30 a.m. after New Years 2001 and you said, "Call me back in 30 minutes I need my coffee," so I called you back in 30 minutes and you said again, "Hey... I'm sorry I really need another 30 minutes."

Kimock: Yeah, that sounds right.

Ginelle: I remember asking you about your favorite guitars. You said your favorite acoustic was the Gibson L7 that Bobby Vega gave you and you usually play it at home. You went on to say that your favorite electric guitar was your white Stratocaster that found you when you where doing your sheep ranch thing, pre-Zero. Then I asked you 'Sheep ranch thing? You mean you were really herding sheep, literally, or where you herding people across the country? You know, following your music.'

Kimock: (laughing a lot) That is a good question! (Points at me) You're good. Yes, I was a shepherd of about 300 sheep on about 300 acres of land off the coast of California.

Ginelle: Yeah, I know. After our phone conversation, (almost four years ago) I went downtown the next day to our town leather worker, Bruce Walker, at the Flying Possum, and he happened to have this beautiful belt buckle that had a sun setting on a herd of sheep and a shepherd. The shepherd was wearing a long cloak and a Gandalf-like hat. I thought, 'That is so fucking cool.' Bruce told me he just got it in. I bought it right away and had a belt made for it. I just wanted you to know that.

Friday March, 12

Kimock and Fierro Sing
By Janice Wulf :: Chester's 2004
Every time Kimock has played happy hour I notice few locals that don't know Steve Kimock or his music that get shocked with the electricity that he and his fans create. This happy hour I saw a couple that looked completely bewildered when they witnessed the reaction of the entire room to "You're The One." Then the unimaginable happened--Kimock sang. I've seen him perform for nearly seven years and I've never seen a microphone get close to his lips. Not only was he singing, he was singing in Spanish with Martin on "Sun Sun Sun." At this point I realized the title to this article and began to tear up.

The first set on Friday began with a sweet "Kissin' the Boo Boo." It was "Merle's Boogie" into "Outskirts of Town" back into "Merle's Boogie" that drew the crowd to share many hugs. God bless Merle Saunders! Avid Kimock fans told me that "Outskirts" hadn't been played in a really long time, and it was a true treat. What better than to have two treats at once? Like a tasty "Ice Cream." "Everybody loves ice cream!" I certainly do, as it's one that usually brings out some of my best moves. "Five Before Funk" was next and was suitably funky, as Jim really tore into it.

Reed Mathis
By J. Scott :: Chester's 2004
Friday's second set was ON! They opened up with "Cole's Law." I must say, I haven't seen Kimock get off on a "Cole's Law" like that since he used to play with Vega. I don't mean to downplay any other bassist but Reed Mathis on stage with Kimock just works. Something about these two generations coming together just flows. "Better Get It" had Kimock all revved up. I saw him yell at Martin, "Come on Martin!" provoking him to turn it on. I've seen Martin at Chester's numerous times, and some of those times I honestly was wondering what the big deal was. On Friday Martin just simply got it and rolled with it all night long, playing some of the sexiest saxophone I've ever heard.

On Friday, the Mountain of Venus boys and I waited to hang out with Steve again. For a man that is reserved most of the time you can give him a red glass of wine and an American Spirit and watch him transform. He's actually very animated with his arms while telling stories, and has amazingly deep eyes that compliment his warm smile. I brought the shepherd belt buckle to show Kimock and I was glad that he took it from my hands and looked at it for a while. He dug it.

Saturday March, 13

Saturday was the day I was dreading most of all. It was dreary and rainy all day. Even with all the old friends around, things began to become very unfamiliar to me. I was very anxious and almost frustrated, but things changed when I noticed the attire of everyone at the show on this "one more Saturday night." Kimock was wearing a Flying Possum shirt from Bruce Walker's one-of–a-kind leather worker store, Martin wore an Arkansas hat along with an old Dead shirt that read "Real Family Values" and Jim had on one of the new and last of the Chester's shirts that read on the back "Music, Dance, & Community" 1993-2004. (Before only musicians were given Chester shirts--so you can imagine how happy a lot of the people in the town were that we could finally buy one.)

Earl Cate and Steve Kimock
By J. Scott :: Chester's 2004
They began the night with "High and Lonesome," a tune I've recognized because of the well-suited, lonely and slow chords at the beginning that shift into a deep rhythm section that Rodney and Reed tore up. "One for Brother Mike" became two for Mike Goodman and another "Merle's Boogie" did the trick. I was completely lost in the music. I forgot all my worries, letting the music take over, and found myself witnessing the most inspiring and sensual "You're The One" I've ever heard Kimock play. Every which way I looked I saw eyes that were intensely in tune or had tears in them.

"It's Up To You" how the music affects and moves you, along with everything else in the world. That's what started off the last second set of Steve Kimock at Chester's. Then a new tune called "New Thing," with Earl Cate on guitar, raised my spirits. I've been watching Earl play guitar for nearly 13 years and it is always a blessing to see him perform with Kimock. You can tell they respect each other on and off the stage. Earl stayed around for "Tongue and Groove," a song everyone must make love to. Grooving to this one I truly get into the vibe of the room, and I could feel it--we were all making love. But absolutely not the swingin' kind! Real Magical Musical LOVE!

Jim Kost, Steve Kimock and Martin Fierro
By J. Scott :: Chester's 2004
I called the encore days before. I knew we would have the song most heartfelt to both Kimock and his fans. We couldn't have asked for a more intense "Little Wing" on his white Stratocaster. Those of us that were present witnessed the epitome of a guitar and a human; Hendrix would have been proud. It was 100 percent REAL, the drug of music in its purest form. I stood next to new and old friends and cried like a baby knowing that this was it--Steve Kimock would never play Chester's again. He left the stage, returning shortly to say, "Those are the last notes I'll play on this stage. That's it, that's the last gig--it's over." All the musicians came back out for one last bow. As I looked up at all their faces I felt a sense of reassurance: Kimock was literally glowing.

Then Martin came back out and provided some comic relief. "OK," he yelled, "Now y'all get the fuck out of here!"

Chester's is not just a bar. It has been a force of energy and a sanctuary for both music lovers and music makers for a long time. For reasons of their own Margie and Bu chose to retire and hand over the club to someone with different plans for the future of the building. It will no longer be the place where we could always depend on a great show; the "unexplainable and indescribable" show.

This was the first place I made a family and relationships with people for myself. Like I've said before--my music family. This is where I have gained most of my knowledge thus far. I have been taught the ways of the world and become an adult here in this room with this music and the people it brought. I have had countless magical musical instances in my own mind and shared with friends.

I was crying and had a very sour expression on my face at the end of Saturday night. Thinking about how all things eventually come to an end, how much it hurts to lose the people and places we love so dearly. My music brother, Coupe, door man and head of security for over a decade, came over to me with a gigantic smile and picked me up with a huge bear hug and assured me, "Ginelle, rock 'n' roll will never die!"

I will cherish these days and the memories of Chester's Place for the rest of my life.

Ginelle Cloar
JamBase | Arkansas
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[Published on: 4/1/04]

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