Fort Collins, CO
Words By Nicholas Stock (Fat Guerilla Productions)
Photos By Derek Miles (Miles Photography)
Audio By Scott Schneider
What happens when the Phenom becomes an aging legend? Steve Kimock got a reputation in the Bay Area after Jerry Garcia called him his “favorite unknown guitarist.” His link to the Dead Family is prolific having performed with the Godchauxs in The Heart of Gold Band, with Bob Weir in Kingfish and Ratdog, with Phil & Friends, The Rhythm Devils & The Other Ones. However, it’s his original projects that are far more impressive than his Dead cred. Zero was a jamband before jam had a name. They were a San Francisco Super Group that changed the game on the West Coast. While playing with Zero, for fun, Kimock co-founded KVHW featuring Bobby Vega, Ray White & Alan Hertz. I first heard of Kimock when I saw a sticker on the door of the old Quixote’s True Blue in Denver that read, “Who is Steve Kimock and why is he stealing my bar.” This was in reference to some small but incredibly packed shows where regulars were unable to gain entry to their favorite watering hole because of the sold out performance. In recent years Kimock has been a hired gun, a ringer who is sure to spice up any ensemble. He has played with members of the String Cheese Incident, Everyone Orchestra and countless others just to name a few.
His current project which was on display at The Aggie Theatre was simply called K I M O C K. The core of the band consisted of Steve and his son John Morgan Kimock on drums and percussion. This endeavor features new compositions inspired by his most recent album Last Danger of Frost and features the unbelievably good Bobby Vega on bass as well as, Leslie Mandelson on keys and vocals. The father and son came to the stage as the audience remained still. I, not wanting to be rude, clapped ardently which prompted a few others to do the same. Steve smiled to himself and told the attentive crowd a story about giving some overly enthusiastic applause for a cellist in a church and being scolded for doing so as he retreated. The entire concert felt like a steady incline, but in reality there was incredible ebb and flow. The two Kimocks began the night with some acoustic improvisation that was so delicate you could hear the slightest cough in the background. For once I saw a Colorado crowd lean in to listen.
Steve Kimock Live at Aggie Theatre on 6.3.16
Set One: Banter, Acoustic Improvisation*> Surely This Day, Careless Love, High and Lonesome, Variation, Come Back My Love, Orson
Set Two: Satellite City, Live of the Party, Bobby Vega’s Muhamad Ali Eulogy, Fingernail Boogie, Mother’s Song, Queen Jane Approximately, My Favorite Number
Encore: Hillbillies on PCP
After some ethereal guitar work from the master, Vega and Mandelson slipped on stage for “Surly This Day.” Leslie’s subtly beautiful vocals on “Careless Love” had an arresting effect on the audience. The classic instrumental Kimock composition “High and Lonesome” was a huge highlight for the diehard fans in the room. Mendelson again lent her voice on a massive “Variation.” Kimock called “Come Back My Love” an Ali Akbar Pop Tune…. done in a surf style.” They closed the first set with a world beat rendition of “Orson.”
Word of a fallen legend slowly percolated through the crowd before Mr. Vega eulogized Mohamad Ali with a powerful bass solo. The “Fingernail Boogie” was another Leslie led number that took on a bluesy, rockabilly tone with the organ under the spotlight. The instrumental “Mother’s Song” built beautifully before they went into a version of Bob Dylan’s “Queen Jane Approximately.” The fans were delighted to help Mendelson by singing along. K I M O C K closed the second set with a spacey “My Favorite Number.” The band returned to encore with the now classic KVHW tune “Hillbillies on PCP.” So what happens when the Phenom ages? He passes his wisdom on to his son and he spends his time doing what he loves. Steve Kimock is a living legend and a guitar god. While some may find this ensemble to be a more stripped down affair, I find this to be some his purest work. He is pulling from his impressive career spanning four decades stylistically while continuing to push the boundaries musically. Now go pray to the guitar gods that Mr. Kimock and his band of merry travelers makes a trip to your hometown.
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