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In the Moment: The Steve Kimock Band plays for keeps.

Going with the Flow

Guitarist Steve Kimock stages a strong return

By Greg Cahill

He's been called the Bay Area's quintessential guitarist. Steve Kimock, a longtime North Bay resident, made his name playing in the jazz-rock instrumental band Zero before getting tapped to provide the Garciaesque licks in the post Grateful Dead bands the Other Ones (comprised of surviving Dead members Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Mickey Hart, and Bruce Hornsby) and Phil Lesh and Friends. These days, Kimock is moving beyond the jam-band label he helped define in the early '80s with his own Steve Kimock Band, a gathering of New York-based jazz-fusion heavyweights.

The Steve Kimock Band--with guitarist Mitch Stein, bassist Arne Livingston, and drummer Rodney Holmes--perform April 13 at the Mystic Theatre in Petaluma.

It's an impressive lineup. Stein is one of New York's hottest guitarists, the son of a classical pianist and jazz trumpeter who studied under jazz guitar great John Scofield. Livingston has performed with Joshua Redman and Roy Hargrove.

Holmes, a member of New York guitarist David Gilmore's quartet, used to perform with the Zawinul Syndicate (Weather Report founder and Miles Davis sideman Joe Zawinul's band). He also can be heard pounding the skins behind Matchbox 20 singer Rob Thomas on the Santana mega-hit "Smooth," for which Holmes shared a Grammy award or two.

As for Kimock, of course, the comparisons to Garcia come naturally. He was, after all, once pronounced by Garcia himself to be the rock icon's favorite unknown guitarist. Born in Pennsylvania, Kimock ventured west in the mid '70s as a member of the Goodman Brothers, a favorite at the time on the Marin music scene. He moved on to the Underdogs and later joined Grateful Dead auxiliary players Keith and Donna Godchaux in their Heart of Gold Band.

Eventually, Kimock hooked up with several refugees from the '60s San Francisco scene, including ex-Quicksilver Messenger Service guitarist John Cipollina, former Starship keyboardist Pete Sears, and flutist and saxophonist Martin Fierro (a onetime member of the James Cotton Blues Band and sometime Dead session player), bassist Bobby Vega, and drummer Greg Anton to form Zero. The band released four albums between 1987 and 1998, when they disbanded. A posthumous two-CD live album, Double Zero, was released last year.

Kimock's new bicoastal band, which released the live recording East Meets West a couple of months ago, finds the guitarist continuing to mature as a player, exploring odd time signatures and stretching out in freewheeling, improvisational solos that showcase his fat-toned phrases without a trace of the overindulgence that often dogs the fusion genre. It's an impressive recording that finds Kimock very much in synch with the philosophy he espoused a couple of years ago on Puremusic.com in an interview with his old band mate Frank Goodman.

"The key thing about music is that it happens in time, right?" he noted while reflecting on the nature of his music. "And when you're playing with time like that . . . and you get to some kind of a flow state with the whole thing, where for just an instant in the night the thing opens up, and people simultaneously are aware that they're having this experience, that they're just really being in the moment, they're being in the now. They're not experiencing the frustration of having grown up in this incredible duality of not knowing the difference between right and wrong, and not knowing the difference between food and poison, or war and peace, or having a job or being a slave or anything like that. They're not living in their minds, they're just in the moment, for real. . . .

"And ultimately, getting into that moment, getting into that flow state, is where I'm coming from, that's where I want the thing to go. I want it to go to a place where you're so engaged that you disengage from your mind, basically, and it's all there all at once."


The Steve Kimock Band perform Sunday, April 13, at 8:30pm at the Mystic Theatre, 21 Petaluma Blvd. N., Petaluma. Tickets are $20 (there is no opening act). 707.765.2121.

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From the April 10-16, 2003 issue of the North Bay Bohemian.

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