Steve Kimock’s Sullivan Hall Residency: 3.23.11

Words and Photos by Karen Dugan (Tiny Rager)

Guitarist extraordinaire Steve Kimock (Zero, Steve Kimock’s Crazy Engine) recently kicked off a three-night residency at Sullivan Hall in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The crowd was thin as not many New Yorkers braved the lightning, hail, and sleet storm that came through unexpectedly. Those who did, however, were delivered an intimate, magical musical treat.

Joining Steve Kimock on Sullivan Hall’s stage was the acclaimed New Orleans pianist Henry Butler, bassist Andy Hess (Gov’t Mule, Black Crowes, John Scofield), and Steve’s son, John Morgan Kimock (Crazy Engine), on drums. There were a few surprise guests as well. After one song into the first set, the foursome welcomed Donna Jean Godchaux (The Grateful Dead) and guitarist Marc Muller (Dead On: Recreating The Grateful Dead Note For Note) to the stage for the remainder of the set.

Now, just for a bit of perspective on my love for Steve Kimock, I need to throw a little info out there. When I am asked to think of a musician that closely resembles or embodies Jerry Garcia or his spirit, my mind almost always goes to Steve Kimock. There really is no other name that pushes Kimock’s out of my mind as the front runner. He is a musician that I look to as a teacher; while constantly willing to connect with his fans and nourish new talent when he discovers it, Steve Kimock is always pushing the envelope to where he can take his music with the guitar.

There was a stimulating sense of connection within the venue last night. The lack of audience members did not create an empty feel as the music filled the space magnificently. The first set was a straight-up Grateful Dead infused vibe! “Chalk Pipe” started it off with Henry Butler’s New Orleans infused keys playing over some trippy Kimock guitar work. With a unique combination of sounds hitting such a small stage, the tune was amazing. “Watch The River Flow,” an improved song with Donna Jean joining the stage for lyrics, followed. “Crazy Fingers” then brought the headiness up, up, up. The group broke into free-for-all jams that flowed for minutes at a time as the next song, “Scarlett Begonias”, showcased each artist’s talents. Kimock, seated on a stool, would close his eyes and melt into the jam from time to time. Moments like these made the audience feel the air of Garcia around them.

As for the special guests, Marc Muller couldn’t have been more on point. It took a while for Donna Jean’s vocals to warm up, but once they did, her voice and pure connection to Jerry helped stimulate the energy surrounding us. They ended the set with a killer “Franklin’s Tower” with Henry Butler making it clear to us that he was feeling the music and the spirit of Jerry within himself. I have never heard Henry Butler sound quite like he did last night.

The second set was supremely funkier. Andy Hess’s bass lines found their way to the forefront of the songs, and Chris Burger (Alphabet Soup) joined the stage for a fifteen-minute-plus freestyle rap session that featured deep, exquisite solos soulfully presented by each musician. Ironically rapping about “rain” on such a gloomy night, he reminded us of the “yin and yangs” of life. This set brought a completely different vibe than the first. With a melodic undertone that helped lead them through to the end, the remainder of the set featured a stage full of talented musicians jamming away at their leisure. After the show’s conclusion, it became time to welcome the weather that was waiting for us outside.

Next Wednesday, March 30th, 2011, Steve Kimock will be back on stage welcoming drummer Adam Deitch, keyboardist Marco Benevento, and bassist Marc Friedman (The Slip).

Here’s a short clip of the band breakin’ it down during Night One…


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