Stormy Mondays | KVHW Fifteen Years Later

This fall marks the 15th anniversary of one of the most storied but short lived jambands of the 90’s, KVHW. It’s true enough that there were a handful of shows in the spring of 1998, but it was the fall of that year that saw the group truly coalesce as it hit the road, bouncing back and forth from West Coast to East Coast to West Coast to East Coast and back again. By New Year’s Eve, the band had already left its mark — a funky, psychedelic tour de force that seemed to have all the right elements in just the right balance.

Guitar wizard Steve Kimock was joined by his longtime friend and band mate, the acrobatic bass virtuoso Bobby Vega, along with a very young and explosive Alan Hertz on drums and the great Ray White on guitar and super smooth, soulful vocals. In a world that had recently reintroduced itself to funk and that was turning toward long form instrumental music that would mark the millennium, with the rise of groups like Soulive, Galactic and KDTU, KVHW had it all, plus a good dose of the something extra: the magic that you can never plan. There’s something in the raw power of the ensemble, which is tempered with playfulness and broad, starry vistas in equal turns, that helps make the group arguably Steve Kimock’s most lauded, despite all that he had done before and all he’s done since.

I first heard them in late October of 1998 when a tape trading buddy from the West Coast slipped a fresh cassette into one of our regular trades — like so many old timers, I think back fondly on the experience of opening my mailbox to find a bulging brown mailer, one that had been send back and forth a dozen times already, knowing it had hours and hours of fun tucked inside. Josh, my trader friend, and I had long since grabbed what we wanted from each other’s collections, and were in the habit of sending along anything especially worth a listen, so I was excited to pop in the tape and go for a walk.

I had seen Steve and Bobby with Zero a couple years before but hadn’t really taken the time to explore their music. I strolled down the streets of Boston, immediately excited by the swirling “Tangled Hangers,” but I was struck stupid by the amazing cover of “Power of Soul” that came next. I can still see the street corner where I stopped cold, turned around and started to walk back toward my friend’s place, stopped again and turned about once more, unsure of what to do, share this music immediately or finish listening?

This week we have the first three tracks form that show, 10/24/98 in Sebastopol: Tangled Hangers, Power of Soul & 5B4 Funk. That last one, incidentally, is the first version with “Woo!” in it, a spontaneous event that has long since become a staple call for riders of K-Waves and fest goers everywhere. This is some of my favorite music ever. As always, enjoy!


Written By: Dan Alford