Steve Kimock and Friends :: 03.16 - 3.20
Having played for the last two decades at a technical level of which most guitarists only dream, Steve Kimock is always moving forward on his quest for achieving the ultimate sound. Last fall, on a break from his all-instrumental quartet, Steve Kimock Band, he assembled an elite group under the name Kimock and Friends. SK&F is a moniker for an ongoing side-project Kimock has delved into periodically over the years. Contrasting with laid-back incarnations of the past, this new lineup roared out of the gates like a beast unleashed.
Steve Kimock & Friends :: March 2005 :: By Jamey Tinnin
Not to be confused as a supporting cast for Steve Kimock, these "Friends" turned out to be closer to superheroes. The foundation could not have been more solid thanks to SKB band mate Rodney Holmes (Santana, Brecker Brothers), one of the world's most dazzling drummers. Thrilling the crowds night after night was Reed Mathis, a ferocious, young bassist with whom Kimock already has a deep connection. Completing the formation in style was the versatile keyboard dynamo Robert Walter. Both in accomplished bands of their own, Reed (Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey) and Robert (Robert Walter's 20th Congress, Greyboy Allstars) are the cream of the crop. After feeling each other out during three performances last October in the old Kimock haunt of Fayetteville, Arkansas, the band knew they were onto something special.
Launching their first tour in Dallas at the beautiful Granada Theater, a hungry crowd basked in the seething energy generated from the stage. Carrying an instant swagger, it was impossible to deny the remarkable chemistry. Navigating through a variety of moods, the band maintained a balance between razor sharp precision and loose improvisation. Robert Walter was shaking things up more than anyone else. A chameleon of the ivories, he filled every space with exactly what was called for and then some. Reed Mathis was quick to leave no doubt about his place amongst the other virtuosos. Keeping pace with one of the most explosive drummers in the world, the kid from Tulsa was simply brilliant.
Mathis & Walter :: SK&F :: March 2005
By Jeremy Scott
Already having exceeded all expectations in Dallas, Steve Kimock and Friends were primed for three nights in their home-away-from-home, Fayetteville, Arkansas. Nestled in the Northwest corner of the state near the Ozarks, the town has achieved legendary status among the Kimock faithful. Fueled by the local community and adoring fans who come from far and wide, any lineup Steve Kimock brings to Fayetteville is embraced with open arms. In return, the intimate audiences are treated to some of the most captivating performances imaginable. After years of being held at the beloved Chester's Place, this would be just the second round of shows at George's Majestic. Though it was tough for many to get over the closing of the irreplaceable Chester's, George's would prove to have a magic all its own.
Steve Kimock & Friends :: March 2005
By Jamey Tinnin
As if the playing of the new quartet wasn't exciting enough, a bounty of new material kept things unpredictable. Walter and Mathis shook up the mix with a few of their songs including Walter's funk excursion "Kickin Up Dust" and a pair from Mathis, "Twinstar" and "Medicine Music." Clearly on a mission to have as much fun as possible, SK&F also explored several covers with tremendous success. Traffic's "Glad" and Ernest Ranglin's "Nana's Chalk Pipe" took the crowds by storm. It turned out they were just getting warmed up.
Over the first two nights in Fayetteville, Kimock signatures like "It's Up To You" and "Tangled Hangers" embodied the groundbreaking nature of the music. Clocking in at around fifty minutes, "It's Up To You" was more of a daredevil experiment amongst the musicians than a song. Akin to fusion-era Miles Davis, every part was a necessary ingredient to the whole. They were flying without a net and loving every minute of it.
SK&F :: March 2005 :: By Jamey Tinnin
The third and final night at George's Majestic loomed large. "This is the one," whispered the anxious audience members. Flowing out of an ethereal, slide-driven song called "While We Wait," a sensuous beat emerged giving way to an angelic voice. Everyone held their breath as they realized it was coming from behind the drum kit. As Rodney Holmes poured every ounce of his passion into The Police's "Tea in the Sahara," the moment seemed frozen in time. Deep in the Fayetteville comfort zone, it was the first-known instance of him sharing his beautiful voice with an audience. Before anyone knew what hit them, the band deftly slammed into an instrumental take on "Spirits in the Material World." Careening through the changes with intoxicating command, we were all deep in their clutches. The set ended with a triumphant take on a song that has far more personality than its title indicates, "Thing One."
The buzz before Set Two was enough to get the butterflies swirling in anyone's stomach. Kicking down the doors with "Glad," Kimock's primal tone blazed a trail through the churning waves of sound. Brandishing a fiery spirit reflected by the flames on his sleeves, here was a man clearly possessed. What happened next will carry on forever in Kimock lore. After veering into a distinctively unique and unfamiliar groove, our ears were struck with the sound of another voice we had never heard before. Where oh where was it coming from? No, it couldn't be. Behold, Steve Kimock defiantly belting out Eugene McDaniels' "Compared to What" like it was his birthright.
SK&F :: 03.19 :: George's Majestic, AR :: By Janice Wulf
If you know Kimock, then you understand the magnitude of him being so bold as to sing. He is a modest guy who usually speaks only when introducing the band. In his whole career, to my knowledge, he has only sung a couple of half-hearted verses. Not only was he was singing, but it was the coolest, most obscure song anyone could have thought of. Written in protest to the Vietnam War, "Compared to What" gained notoriety after it opened the classic performance by Les McCann and Eddie Harris at the Montreaux Jazz Festival in 1969. Showing no signs of age, the politically-charged lyrics cut to the core, bearing a haunting relevance to our current situation. It was one of those electrifying moments of reckless abandon. The transcendence continued until we were catapulted into the night with a monumental rendition of "Little Wing."
SK&F sealed the tour with a kiss the next night at the historic Cain's Ballroom in Tulsa. All the out-of-towners were in awe of the majestic dance hall, which had been recently renovated to closely resemble its original look from the 20's. Cain's was one of those rooms where you wish every one of your friends could be there to share it with you.
SK&F :: March 2005 :: By Jeremy Scott
The band continued their unstoppable flow while giving center-stage to the two new guys, Reed and Robert. Playing to his hometown crowd, Mathis beamed with pride, enamored with his position in life. Taking several solos as he had all tour, Reed seemed overcome with the spirit of pure creativity. Walter couldn't hide a Cheshire grin that seemed to scream, "Let's keep this thing going!" The highlight of the show, and one of the most stunning moments of the tour, was a definitive "It's Up To You." Summing up the extent of his musical genius in a glistening twenty-eight minutes, Steve Kimock brought things full-circle to remind everyone why we fell in love with him in the first place.
Happy Spring Equinox indeed.
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