Steve Kimock has proved himself a master of fluid improvisation for over 4 decades, in the process inspiring music fans w/his transcendent guitar speak voiced thry electric, acoustic, lap & pedal steel guitars. With his multi-decade reputation as a blazing psychedelic guitarist versatile enough to touch almost all aspects of American music, Mr. Kimock continues to evolve creatively as he wanders thru the landscape of life. While one can say that his genre is rock, no one niche has ever confined him. Instead, through the years, he’s explored various sounds/styles based on what’s moved him at the time, whether it’s blues or jazz; funk or folk; psychedelic or boogie; gypsy or prog-rock; traditional American or world fusion. Threaded thru this expansive & highly nuanced musical landscape is Kimock’s signature sound, the prodigious product of his ability to articulate crystal-clear tone, melody & emotion into intricately woven music crafted with technical brilliance. His passion & devotion to performing live is matchless, and his unparalleled ability to embrace & capture his audiences musically is the stuff of legend. He co-founded the jazz/rock band Zero in the ‘80s & KVHW in the ‘90s; since then, he has recorded & toured in various outfits under his own name. His collaborations with assorted band mates & groups have provided an everlasting wellspring of inspiration for the guitarist, and he has shared the stage with a seemingly endless array of international musical luminaries. After more than 40 years on stage, Mr. Kimock is more committed than ever to a jubilant spirit of musical diversity — the same spirit that has fed his desire to pursue an authentic relationship w/the guitar since the day he realized his calling. While still performing with Zero, he began to explore new terrain with the looser, bluesier Steve Kimock & Friends, an ever-evolving project that continues to feature a cast of acclaimed singer- songwriters, Hammond B-3 players, rock guitarists and numerous other serious players Kimock has befriended along the way. Late in the century it was succeeded by KVHW, a much lauded though short-lived quartet comprised of himself, Zero bassist Vega, drummer Alan Hertz, & former Frank Zappa sideman Ray White. In February 2000, KVHW morphed into the Steve Kimock Band, which featured Kimock & Vega along with a rotating crew of guitarists & drummers. In 2009, he formed the upbeat, gospel-influenced, soul-rock band Steve Kimock Crazy Engine, which featured legendary Hammond B3 player Melvin Seals & Kimock’s son, John Morgan Kimock, on drums. Once touted by Jerry Garcia as his “favorite unknown guitar player,” Mr. Kimock has also performed as part of Bob Weir’s Kingfish and toured in both 2007 and 2014 with Bob Weir’s band RatDog, in addition to post-Grateful Dead ensembles including The Other Ones, Phil Lesh & Friends, and the Rhythm Devils featuring Mickey Hart & Bill Kreutzmann. Dubbed “The Guitar Monk” by Relix magazine, he is driven by the knowledge that there is always more to discover – that and the fact that he loves guitar too much to do anything else. Another project you can hear his sound on is Jazz Is Dead – an acclaimed All-Star instrumental ensemble, famous for interpretations of classic Grateful Dead songs with jazz influences.
I had the thrill of getting some time set aside to chat with Mr. Kimock about the upcoming Jazz Is Dead event on January 19th at the Barrymore Theatre here in Madison. We got into the event and what people who make it to the show will be a part of. That’s right, a part of. We talk about his job of making sure he is in tune with the music, the song and himself – and the practice it takes to be so. I found it thrilling to be in discussion with Mr. Kimock about the idea of making/creating music versus walking in the landscape of what exists and find your way. There is a moment where we discuss the legacy of this music, and the honoring of Jerry Garcia’s time with it. While I have been in the spiral of the day’s sounds with this artist for years, the evolution that I felt while even just discussing music, makes me very aware of what kind of show anyone who gets out on this Jazz Is Dead XXV tour, where they will honor the Dead’s ‘Wake Of The Flood’ and more. It will be that experience we talk about for years to come.