Words & Images by: Susan J. Weiand

Steve Kimock & Friends :: 07.28 & 7.29 :: 12 Galaxies :: San Francisco, CA

Reed Mathis :: SK&F :: 12 Galaxies
Steve Kimock is an amazingly gifted guitarist who always seems to play even better when he is surrounded by exceptional musicians. Shedding his usual band mates from the Steve Kimock Band for a two-night run of Steve Kimock and Friends at San Francisco's 12 Galaxies on Thursday July 28th and Friday July 29th, he was joined on stage by John Molo on drums (Phil Lesh & Friends), Reed Mathis on bass (Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey), Mookie Siegel on keys (David Nelson Band), and his sixteen year-old son John Morgan Kimock on second drum kit. Local songstress Sister Soul, AKA Chrissy Winter, also provided bluesy vocals throughout both evenings.

Thursday's show seemed like a big jam session led by Mr. Kimock and was very exploratory, not surprising as the players had not rehearsed much prior to taking the stage. Therein lies the beauty of the SK&F concept. Those familiar with Steve's regular band would be delighted to hear this group's take on standard fare like "Coles Law" > "Tangled Hangers." The transitional jam that led into "Tangled Hangers" was very intense, and Kimock's leads blew minds on many levels. Other Kimock standards like "Ice Cream Factory," "Kissin the Boo Boo," and in particular the funky fusion of "Better Get Hit in Yo' Soul" were engaging and far different from recent SKB versions, with the band taking every opportunity to venture out into new musical territories while still remaining true to the original compositions.

Steve Kimock :: SK&F :: 12 Galaxies
If Thursday was the warm up, Friday delivered the goods. "Steel Guitar Rag" was a quick opener and was followed by the lovely "Twinstar." The real highlight for many was a raging version of "Bad Hair," a song from the KVHW days. It seemed to come back to the signature melody line only after repeatedly delving into deep melodic improv. And the cover of Sly Stone's "You're the One" that followed was a funky groovy voyage to blissville for the sold out audience of Kimockian faithful. Sister Soul broke things up with a slow blues tune of her own, and the first set finally roared to a close with the old favorite "5 B4 Funk," complete with audience participation on "Woo!".

John Molo :: SK&F :: 12 Galaxies
Jimmy Cliff's poignant "Many Rivers to Cross" was eventually played to open the second set, but it was "It's Up To You" that tore a hole in the roof with aggressive playing by Kimock featuring complex bass counterpoint courtesy of Mathis. The fun SK&F staple "Whack" and the newer classic "Thing One" came off strong as well. For those who have followed Kimock's career it was a true pleasure to hear these songs reborn. As things slowed down, it appeared the set might be over when the slide intro to the hauntingly sweet Hunter/Garcia composition "Stella Blue" came in, but it was the return of Sister Soul for a rocking "Got My Mojo Working" that would conclude the segment.

Kimock seemed overjoyed to be joined on stage by his talented son, John Morgan. The young Kimock worked hard to keep up with the incredible John Molo, who is probably one of the most competent drummers working today. Flexing his skills, Molo was able to play hard when necessary and also softened it up when it was appropriate. Mookie Siegel consistently added tasty comps and occasionally vamped a lead or two, particularly his organ work on "You're the One." Most impressive of all was Reed Mathis, a young fresh-faced, smiling monster on the bass. With the JFJO trio being devoid of a guitar player, he often plays bass like a lead instrument. He and Kimock continually bounced off of each other, intertwining complex rhythms with melody, and Mathis's playing was the perfect foil for his partner. As has been reported, in the fall the new Steve Kimock Band lineup will include long time cohorts Rodney Holmes and Mitch Stein, with Mathis on bass and Mookie along for a bit, until Mitch leaves and Robert Walter fills the keyboard seat come September. If these shows were any indication of things to come, new blood will inspire the Master Kimock to reach new heights of K-waves.

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[Published on: 8/29/05]

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