Review | Steve Kimock | Stateline | Santa Cruz

Words by: Brennan Lagasse

Steve Kimock has been nothing but a pure gem to the jamband world since he first burst on the scene in the 1970’s. However, it wasnt until the 80’s and 90’s when he started to gain a deeper notoriety by playing with the likes of Zero. By the turn of the millennium fans of improvisational music most certainly knew about Kimock, the guitar virtuoso extraordinaire, who by that time had also played with several members of the Grateful Dead along with their various side projects such as Bob Weir’s Kingfish, the beginning of the Phil Lesh & Friends projects, and The Other Ones. But for many it was his projects that fell under the title of the Steve Kimock Band, and especially KVHW, which sealed his legendary status as a guitarist so tight and nibble he could play just about anything and make it sound like the most beautiful collection of sounds you’ve ever heard. Kimock has played with an amazing amount of talented musicians over the years, in various supergroup type projects coast-to-coast, and his current band is nothing but a continuation of this growing legacy.

Steve Kimock :: 07.20.12 :: Crystal Bay Club Casino :: Steveline, NV

Kimock is a favorite in the Lake Tahoe area where he seems to make at least one stop on his various tours from year-to-year. His most current lineup is a supergroup and then some, playing with an energy usually reserved for a band that has been performing live a lot longer then these four gentlemen have played together. Wally Ingram on drums and Andy Hess on the bass are the driving force behind Kimock on guitar, and keyboard master Bernie Worrell on the keys.

Steve Kimock and Wally Ingram by Brennan Lagasse
In recent years Kimock has played in bands where the music has been diverse, although much to the dismay of many fans, his personal song catalogue has not been at the forefront much like it was with say KVHW. In this most recent incarnation of the band, not only are Kimock’s tunes shining at the forefront as they should be, but the fresh covers brought in by the band make the overall show some of the best Kimock music this reviewer along with many fans have seen in several years.

In Tahoe, the energy of the band and the room as a whole gradually built throughout the night. With Kimock originals sprinkled throughout two solid sets, songs like “Five B4 Funk” and “Hey Man” saw some of their best playing in years. Hess and Ingram keep such a steady beat that it allows for Kimock to step back in a comfortable role and really let loose with some truly profound solos. Ditto for Worrell. In fact, even though Kimock tends to surround himself with other amazing musicians when he plays, I haven’t seen him play with another musician as striking as Bernie Worrell in quite some time. Usually when all the ingredients are right it’s all Kimock and the band, sound and crowd are happy. But at the CBC it was Worrell that had just as many brilliant moments as Kimock did throughout the course of the night.

Steve Kimock by Brennan Lagasse
Like many notable bands and musicians in the jamband scene, it’s the covers that catch people by surprise and let the band put their own mark on whatever song is being played. From Bob Marley’s “Get Up, Stand Up” featuring an amazing dub breakdown beat by Ingram and Hess, to the upbeat sing-along take on the Beatles‘ “Come Together”, the band brought their A-Game to Tahoe and it showed. However, it was the first set closing “Red Hot Mamma”, the old P-Funk original sung by founding member Bernie Worrell himself, with a take on the Talking Heads “Burning Down the House” that got the whole space moving and grooving the hardest during the evening. In fact, on this night Kimock and Worrell traded soloing duties so much so that as the night progressed it seemed Kimock would do his thing in majesty, and then nod over to Worrell who would lay down such a thick, funky beat on top of it that the jams started to sound like something plucked straight out of the cosmos. Overall the show was some of the best music many of us attendees said we had seen in many moons. It was actually so good that I decided to book it down to Santa Cruz on Sunday to catch them play one more time.

Steve Kimock :: 07.22.12 :: Moe’s Alley :: Santa Cruz, CA

The scene to catch the band in Santa Cruz was a bit different then what show-goers experienced on Friday night in Tahoe. In typical Tahoe fashion, people showed up a bit late until the room was eventually packed, while in Santa Cruz after talking with the owner of the venue, Bill Welch-a candid awesome character, it was clear people had been waiting for this show for several weeks. He told me there had been people hanging out around the venue all day, many trying to scheme their way into the show that night, a great deal of whom exuded the vibe of what Welch termed “the DeadHead energy”.

Steve Kimock and Wally Ingram by Brennan Lagasse
The Santa Cruz show was just as good as the Tahoe show, although it did showcase a unique feel throughout the night. First off, the room was packed from the beginning, and in a good way. Not in the manner that people were there to drink heavily all night and catch up with their friends, but in a way that saw most attendees literally locked into what the band was doing on stage at all times. It was actually quite a refreshing sight to take in with more people into the show than playing on their phones.

Like the Tahoe show, this evening’s performance saw many notable Kimock originals sprinkled in with a good number of well played covers. The main difference tonight was that Worrell did not take the forefront as much as he did in Tahoe. His playing was still above and beyond, but he did not solo as much, nor did he sing like he did in Tahoe on a some of the more well known tunes he’s best known for. However, special guest Henry Kaiser, a man best known as a widely psychedelic free improviser that’s been playing around the Bay Area music scene for years, helped bring a truly memorable jam to the venue. Watching Kimock smirk while Kaiser decided to go one way or another during their time on stage trading guitar phrases was a treat most certainly worth another listen.

Steve Kimock and Band by Brennan Lagasse
After two long sets, the crowd was still thirsting for more as Kimock came out to the stage to thank everyone for coming, and joke about his disdain for encores saying something to the effect, “We should just keep going [instead]”. Still, the band came out for one more as Kimock laid down as delicate and melodic of a version of “Stella Blue” as has been played since old Captain Trips himself. Everyone in attendance were beyond stoked, just as they were in Tahoe, and if you’ve yet to have a chance to see these four musicians play together you’ll have another chance on the East Coast this August for several shows, with another couple near the end of the month in California. If you’ve grown a taste for the music Kimock has produced over the years you owe it to yourself to catch one of these upcoming shows or at least give something from the tour a listen. If you’re new to Kimock and his music now is the time to give a few of these most recent shows a listen and see if it moves you. Chances are you’ll be buying tickets for a show soon thereafter and be hoping much like I am that this current lineup stays in tact for at least a few more tours.

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