Steve Kimock & Friends
A master of improvisation for nearly four decades, Steve Kimock has been inspiring music fans with his transcendent guitar speak, voiced through electric, acoustic, lap and pedal steel guitars. 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 and 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 through this expansive and highly nuanced musical landscape is Kimock’s signature sound, the prodigious product of his ability to articulate crystal-clear tone, melody and emotion into intricately woven music crafted with technical brilliance. His passion and devotion to performing live is matchless, and his unparalleled ability to embrace and capture his audiences musically is the stuff of legends.
Kimock co-founded the jazz/rock band Zero in the ‘80s and KVHW in the ‘90s; since then, he has recorded and toured in various outfits under his own name. His collaborations with assorted bandmates and groups have provided an endless wellspring of inspiration for the guitarist, and he has shared the stage with a seemingly endless array of international musical luminaries. After almost 40 years on stage, 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 with the guitar since the day he realized his calling.
In 1984, Kimock and Anton co-founded Zero, an instrumental psychedelic jazz/rock/blues band that also included former Underdogs bandmate Fierro, bassist Bobby Vega, keyboardist Pete Sears (who was eventually succeeded by Chip Roland), and former Quicksilver Messenger Service guitarist John Cippolina. It was during the Zero era that Kimock would define his fluid style of melodious improvisation.
By 1992, Zero was regarded as one of the marquee Bay Area bands and architects of the infant jam band genre. The band began working with Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter and added vocalist Judge Murphy before going on an extended hiatus in the late ‘90s. During their initial time together, Zero released five albums including 1987’s debut Here Goes Nothin’; 1990’s Nothin’ Goes Here; 1991’s live effort Live: Go Hear Nothin’; the band’s 1994 major label debut, the live album Chance in a Million; and 1997’s self-titled studio album, along with hundreds of live recordings.
While still performing with Zero, Kimock 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.
Kimock spent the end of the century with KVHW, a much-lauded though short-lived quartet comprised of himself, Zero bassist Vega, drummer Alan Hertz, and former Frank Zappa sideman Ray White. KVHW toured nationally from January 1998 through December 1999, playing a repertoire that consisted of original compositions and songs from Kimock’s previous bands, as well as a number of Frank Zappa covers.
In February 2000, KVHW morphed into the Steve Kimock Band, which featured Kimock and Vega (who was succeeded by Alphonso Johnson in 2001), along with a rotating crew of guitarists and drummers. Eventually, the lineup solidified with drummer Rodney Holmes and guitarist Mitch Stein. In 2001, they released Live in Colorado, followed by the 2002 double live album, East Meets West (culled from shows in San Francisco and Japan); and in 2004, the double live album, Live in Colorado, Vol. II. In 2005, the Steve Kimock Band released the lauded studio album, Eudemonic. The next few years found the band anchored by Kimock and Holmes with a slew of talent flowing through the lineup including keyboardists Robert Walter (20th Congress, Greyboy Allstars) and Jim Kost, and bassists Reed Mathis (Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, Tea Leaf Green), Arne Livingston (Living Daylights) and Richard Hammond.
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; and accomplished singer-songwriter and cello player, Trevor Exter, who was plucked out of the NYC indie music scene to fill the role of bass and vocals.
Though he still devotes countless hours refining his craft, playing his instrument has never been enough for a man coined “The Guitar Monk” by Relix magazine. The result onstage is the culmination of Kimock’s dedication to the technical intricacies of both guitars and amplifiers. Going all the way from the fundamentals of musical theory to the most scientific details of the sound-production process, there are few stones Kimock has yet to turn. Driving him forward is the knowledge that there is always more to discover; that and the fact that he loves guitar too much to do anything else.