by Frank Goodman
I've done interviews before with friends, but never someone I've known as long and as well as I know Steve Kimock. We lived and played together in The Goodman Brothers in PA and CA for six years and then re-formed a time or two afterward, and did a number of assorted gigs here or there. I don't know how many shows, a lot.
After a long lifetime of being a musician, a ten year stretch at Mesa/Boogie (mostly in sales, which brought me into contact with quite a few good guitar players), and six years in Nashville, it's amazing to be able to say that Steve is still, and has always been, my favorite guitar player.
We met him at the first gig that I'd ever had to cancel cause I was sick, the Queen Victoria near Allentown, PA. Brother Billy and his LA girlfriend Peggy went out to check out who filled in. He told me the next morning, "Man, you shoulda seen it. These young cats, really good, playing Beatles tunes in German and shit. This absolutely amazing guitar player, we couldn't believe it. I told Peggy to go up and say hi to him, and I followed behind. She did her voodoo Louisiana thing, and introduced herself. Without even saying his name, he spouted, as fast as you can say it: 'Wanna see a picture of John McLaughlin playing a gold top Les Paul?' and whipped his wallet out, displaying the photo." The next day he came out to the farm, had some of our mother's cooking, and never left.
I've learned more about the guitar and about music from him than from anyone. (I've played more with my brother Billy, but our learning ran along more parallel lines.) It was as much his approach to the guitar and to music itself as any direct lesson. I went through years of waking up on one coast or the other and listening to Steve's bizarre exercises that he would make up and run for hours before he allowed himself to simply play, which he would then do for the rest of the day. And he's done that for a large part of his life.
Before it's over, he will be a world famous musician, but it's been a long and serpentine road. His fan base is growing rapidly and rabidly. When he was younger, he would amaze audiences by setting them up and then just mowing them down with his incendiary, do it to the death approach to soloing. Not pyrotechnics, no. He'd just fill your head up with so many right notes on the way to his crescendo that it would threaten to pop off. These days, I see him do it a little differently. It's more like a journey that lasts for hours, and goes in waves. K-waves, his fans call them. You can sample clips of the man on our Listen page, but it's really about a show, you have to see a show...
The Steve Kimock Band, it's a scary quartet. Rodney Holmes on the drums is a mindblowing groover. So much energy, so inventive, so into it, supporting and driving simultaneously, seamlessly. The legend of bassist Alphonso Johnson, it's deep. Weather Report, Santana, Chuck Mangione, Wayne Shorter, The Crusaders, shut up. He's one of the greatest bassists in the world. The quartet was complete with the addition of NYC guitarist Mitch Stein, an excellent musical companion to Kimock. He plays some great solos, but is more often in the second guitar role, and he's brilliant at it. Whether the part is scripted or improvised, it's always got the right tone and is the middle of the groove around which the jam is revolving.
Brother Jon and I went down to Tipitina's in New Orleans to catch a Kimock show during Jazzfest recently. The place was jammed, so I was thrilled that major K-people Arielle and Charlie had a spot for me where we could dance in a little fenced off area right up front. I shot a couple of photos but got caught up in the K-waves, thought I was tripping, man. Arielle brought me a couple of shows on disc, I'm listening to one right now, wow. Check out a few clips from those on our Listen page. And check out Arielle's website (www.kimocksphere.com), she's got it going on.
At one point in the morning, I remembered I had a flight to Detroit at eleven. I said goodbye to my new friends, and jumped in a cab with a wild Creole cat at the wheel. I said, "It must be after two, isn't it?" He looked at me like I must be high. "Two? It's Four Seventeen, man!" continue to interview