By Elisa Zuckerberg, Founder, HearItThere.com
September 17, 2019
Jam band guitar wizard Steve Kimock & Friends bring their 25thanniversary tour to The Ridgefield Playhouse on Wednesday, September 25th at 8pm.
A very brief Steve Kimock’s music bio: The quintessential San Francisco jazz guitarist, Steve Kimock moved to the city in the mid ’70s and began playing guitar in a folk rock group called The Goodman Brothers and gigging around with a variety of groups including The Underdogs with saxophonist Martin Fierro with whom he would later form Zero.
Kimock also plays with Voodoo Dead, co-founded the legendary Marin County jam band Zero and was part of the post-Grateful Dead Furthur tours in the ‘90s. For over 25 years Steve Kimock & Friends has been embraced by fans carrying the free-form torch of improvisation, through an extensive catalog of original material as well as through live performances with many esteemed musicians. Kimock has performed alongside the likes of Bruce Hornsby (and can be heard on two of Hornsby’s releases), Jorma Kaukonen, John Cipollina, Jerry Garcia and all members of the Grateful Dead, as well as Peter Frampton, Bonnie Raitt, The Allman Brothers, Buddy Miles, Buddy Cage, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and many more.
On this tour he will be joined by Jeff Chimenti (Dead & Company) on keys, Reed Mathis (Tea Leaf Green) on bass and vocals, and John Morgan Kimock (Mike Gordon, Oteil & Friends) on drums for a night of psychedelic jams, deep improvisation, swampy funk grooves and crystalline rock and roll!
Jorma Kaukonen describes Kimock as “one of the remarkable musicians of his generation.” He has often been compared to Jerry Garcia, who was one of his fans. (1)
My interview with Steve Kimock:
Honestly, after speaking with Dennis McNally, Steve Kimock’s publicity manager, and digging into Steve Kimock’s music bio, I was a bit intimidated to interview him. I reached out to my Grateful Dead and jam band fan friends for advice on how to go about the conversation and what questions to ask, and in the end, just listening to Steve talk was certainly the best way to go about it. He was very forthcoming about his approach to composing music and thoughts on the concept of harmony as well as the social atmosphere that his performances create.
What can the audience expect? Out of the gate I asked Kimock what we should expect on September 25 at The Ridgefield Playhouse. I had watched a couple of recent videos and listened to his new release* therefore, had made some assumptions. Kimock clearly doesn’t like to define music in terms of music genres and categories and he didn’t hesitate to correct me when I asked certain questions. He assured me that it is an anniversary tour and we are guaranteed to hear a whole variety of his repertoire and certainly many surprises.
Here’s how it went:
Zuckerberg: Was just listening to your newly released song, “While We Wait” and definitely hear jazz and also experimental elements. It sounds to me less improvisational and “jam band” oriented, a genre that fans may associate with you. I also watched a wonderful, recent NPR Tiny Desk performance which sounded more folky. Will we hear more music like this?
Kimock: “In this style” or genre is not really how it (music) gets made. It’s not like a painting or something that fits perfectly into a frame. It’s collaborative and interactive (both musicians and audience) and we’ll all delight in that interaction. Our shows and audience is a “gathering” people getting together and making a bunch of noise! (It’s) not to be consumed, but the making of an experience. Our gigs are 99% social.
Zuckerberg: What can you tell us about the musicians who you’ll be performing with?
Kimock: I’ll be playing with an extraordinary improvisation ensemble that I’m barely worthy… and bringing the best musicians on the planet!
Zuckerberg: Must be great working with and performing with your son.
Kimock: Yeah…. and he just had a baby.
Zuckerberg: Wow, congratulations! Must be tough to be away or busy during this time.
The greatest insight into Steve Kimock’s broad perspective about music and creativity that I took away was his personal approach to writing music. At first it sounded simple, but truthfully, it’s more complex, and certainly more philosophical than he was leading on.
Zuckerberg: What else can you tell your fans about how your music is composed? What is your approach to writing and performing?
Kimock: My original approach as an “outward expression” – doing something with the guitar and having the music go out.” After time and eventually, it was more about “looking in.” Harmony’s ancient definition is that these notes go with those notes, and then these sounds go with those sounds. The idea is to balance all that. The music is in that.
Zuckerberg: Anything else you would like to add or share with your fans about the show on Wednesday?
Kimock: This run will definitely be celebratory, a “Hippie Holy Day”!
Zuckerberg: Gotta love it! Thank you for your time. I look forward to the show on September 25!
Thoughts about the interview: I completely get it and checked in with my friend Simon O’Keefe, the very talented keyboardist for Westchester based jam band Ronald Reggae and co-owner of film production company Tonapac Pictures.
“As a musician playing in a jam band especially, we depend on the audience as much as we do each other. Dancing people is gas on the fire. The more people are willing to take the journey with us, and give us that trust, the sooner it becomes a group effort to reach those places of musical bliss, where there’s no such thing as wrong notes or making mistakes.”
More thoughts: This is what every young artist and jam band is trying to achieve. Steve Kimock and his various collaborative ensembles are the model.
Another friend of mine and music fan extraordinaire, Charlotte Dickson, who describes herself as a “serious follower” of the Dead in the 80s and 90s shares her experience at jam band shows:
“They’re VERY social. Lots of people would know each other from years back. People would come in large groups. Also people would often follow The Dead or Phil, Bob, Jerry for months, even years at a time. Yes there were drugs, but everyone was friendly with each other in the lots before the shows, sharing food, talking, dancing. Same inside the shows with singing and dancing with people you’d never met. Just a hippie, love, communal feeling…. I loved every minute and not just the music, but the happy, group vibe.”
OK, I get this too. I’m sold!
Don’t miss Steve Kimock and Friends on Wednesday, SEPTEMBER 25 in Ridgefield, Connecticut!
For tickets for the show, go online: The Ridgefield Playhouse, or visit the box office, or call 203-438-5795
*Released on September 13, Steve Kimock’s new single “While We Wait” premiered on jambands.com, Spotify, Apple Music and amazon teams the guitarist with son and drummer John Morgan Kimock, who produced the song, along with other musicians such as vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Leslie Mendelson. “Asumptuous, elegant, romantic instrumental, beautiful as only Kimock (on lap steel, guitar, and piano, Spencer Murphy on bass, John Morgan Kimock on drums, kalimba, piano, and synthesizers) can make it. Have a listen: https://relix.com/blogs/detail/song-premiere-kimock-while-we-wait/
Photo: Jenn Kimock
1Fair Thee Well: The Final Chapter of The Grateful Dead’s Long Strange Trip, Joel Selvin, June 2018