I was on the phone with a friend today, discussing the scene in his city and all that there's to do building up to the coming of HAL and realized, even more, how unbelievably deep the offerings of live music are here in NYC. Week after week acts of high to low to no profile come on through, sharing an endless variety of genres and emotions, some staying for a night, others holding court for a while but, for me, a tell tale sign is the venue when it's hosting the same band for multiple dates. The Wetlands Preserve can be everything from a proving ground for those fresh from the garage to a place of residency for growing but more mature stuff and on to a stop for names that we'd all recognize with relative ease. And Steve Kimock's been out there for a very long time creating and performing to the point that Jerry Garcia named him his "favorite unknown guitarist." After listening to what he has going on, though, it's very surprising that he was ever far from the foreground of anyone's thoughts. Of course, the context of known can be skewed by the power of the media and the greater public's hunger for all things generic but, regardless, I'm glad that the expansion of our scene has given Steve & his band lots of room to shine because he certainly makes no waste of any moment as soon as he's plugged in.

Apparently, Kimock's anonymity isn't the case now because I hit a dense crowd about 10 feet from the door upon arrival. Then it's all about the squirm; depending on the grace and eastern influences in the crowd to get by and meet up with my people in the middle of it all. Saturday night, though, it was impossible to make it beyond the left side of the stage so I was driven down to the emptied lounge where I found a couple of crowd weary friends and sat comfortably listening to SKB's first set which conjured thoughts of the Grateful Dead's more peaceful jamming style, a little more soulful and folksy than a lot of the hard core brain thumping that germinated from it. Kimock doesn't lead his band through the pasta but he does use the same mellow base as the foundation for some explorations that scream of the future. It's completely idyllic, inspiring visions of a time to come where human understanding and the end to all violence and discontent is so established that the opposite is but a vague afterthought tucked somewhere in the recesses of social history. His guitar sings of hope and mixes with the positive energy of the band's total sound reaching into your mind to blow a little air on which you can float or glide, circle the room or travel even farther inward or out as Steve continues to spread his wings. He has a very mature approach to the movements in his improvisations, obviously able to do anything with those strings but makes a choice to bring out the senstivity in his heart, every muscle in his face complimenting the substantive depth from which he seems to draw his motivation.

By the second set, the masses hadn't done much more than rearrange themselves so the prospects of getting close to the stage didn't seem much better but that's when Ms. Brandi took the lead and, somehow, she managed to get me to the other side of the room, close enough to soak in all the sound I wanted from the house system. And I must thank her because bathing in it like that is the best way to experience artistry at the levels to which the Steve Kimock Band strive. They went into this extended round-robin type piece with improvisational interludes in between solos by Rodney Holmes on drums, Tom Costner on the Hammond and back to Kimock with bassist Bobby Vega plucking some very jivin' connectors to help bring the roundhouse rock together. Bobby & Steve play off of each other very well at times, with some twang on the guitar bolstered by a more thrubbing density on the bass before they head back into one of their airy spots such as one that led Kimock into a tease of When You Wish Upon a Star. They definitely have the details down and can linger on grooves for a while but also be prepared for them to get you hoppin' for a good part of the show as well. At times, I was reminded of the good naturedly driving themes expressed in some of Chicago's homegrown jazz and blues artists which is just one of many platforms off of which Kimock can build music that will both stimulate the thought processes and allow you to let it all go and take the trip with him.

Personally, I hit the wall a bit after 2am but just that small amount of time I spent with the Steve Kimock Band helped me understand both why they gave him three nights at the Wetlands and where I'll be for each of them if they should do so again. Other than about a week off, mid-month, the guys will be on the road through their NYE show at the Oakland Coliseum, a stone's throw from one of the sickest groupings of amazing artists I've come across for the week leading up to 01 cubed. If you're out in the San Fran/Oakland area, good luck choosing what to see and finding time to sleep. For anyone else who calls that other coast home, make sure to check them out starting next Friday & Saturday at the Hyatt Hotel in Incline Village, Nevada or any of their following gigs in Oregon and California. You will most definitely be in for a treat.

Howie Greenberg
JamBase NYC Correspondent
Go See Live Music!!

[Published on: 12/4/00]

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