The newest edition of Steve Kimock and Friends brought itself to San Francisco’s famed Great American Music Hall Friday night. This was the second show of a 3 show Bay Area run. The latest band members include longtime Bay Area guitarist Steve Kimock (Zero, KVHW, Phil & Friends, The Other Ones), Bobby Vega (Sly & the Family Stone, Zero, KVHW) on bass, Kyle Hollingsworth (String Cheese Incident) on Keyboards and Wally Ingram (Stockholm Syndrome, Sheryl Crow, David Lindley)on drums. This group debuted in Denver, Colorado back in June with a 3 night run at the famed Quixotes. Having seen Steve Kimock play with a lot of different groups and players, I was very excited to see this new lineup come together.
The Great American has always seemed like home to me when seeing Steve Kimock. I started seeing him play here in 1999 with his old band KVHW and always look forward to him returning. For those who have never been to GAMH before, it was formerly an old restaurant/bordello built in 1907. These days, it’s a music venue and holds around 500 people. Intimate and Historic. This was where the Grateful Dead recorded their famous One from the Vault CD.
The show was sold out and the venue was as packed as I have seen it in years for any band. The scene outside was excited, and the energy in the air was heavy with anticipation for this San Francisco debut. House lights go down around 9:30 and I hear the opening notes of the Kimock masterpiece ‘It’s Up To You. ‘I’m thinking we are in for a great night. Although there were some technical difficulties with Kyle’s setup it still turned out to be a good 30 minute version. You could see the feeling out process taking place onstage. I loved Wally’s ‘laid back and groove’ style on the drums.
Next came a surprise to me and most of the crowd, a cover by Jimmy Smith; ‘Root Down and get it’ .Bobby And Kyle really locked in tight on this one and showed us some old school funk moves. Having KVHW being my favorite form of Steve Kimock, I was really happy to hear the upbeat and bouncy ‘New Africa’. This song always makes me think of skipping through fields of flowers with a big smile on my face. ’Five before Funk’, another KVHW song, was next .Steve seems to really enjoy playing this one, bringing a more upbeat energy to the show, this “go to” song seems to be the crowd pumper at times. Well, what was slow to start soon turned into an all out dance fest. The Kimock jam in the middle of this was worth the entire admission of the show. Kyle really laid down a nice piano groove for Steve to soar over top of.
Next we were treated to a nice surprise! Nicki Bluhm made a special guest appearance. She is an up an coming talented female vocalist, known through her own band, Nicki and the Gramblers, as well as her musical collaboration with and marriage to Tim Bluhm (Mother Hips, Rhythm Devils). Nicki and Kyle sang a great version of the Grateful Dead’s ‘Going down the Road Feeling Bad.’ Hearing Kimock play grateful dead songs in his own band is rare, and this was quite a treat. His style and tone was keeping the Garcia spirit alive during this version.
Second set started out with the beautiful instrumental ‘Coles law’. Since they played the ‘Tangled hangers’ the night before I knew we were not going get the ‘Coles>Tangled ‘combo which I long for, but this 14 minute version really shined. Another Grateful Dead classic, ‘Bird Song’ with a surprise ‘Dark Star’ tease was next with Kyle and Nicki Bluhm singing. Kyle seemed to be bringing the Grateful Dead vibe to the band and the crowd loved it. Nicki Bluhm was soaking it all up pretty well as she went into a dirty, rocking version of The Rolling Stones ‘Tumbling Dice’ with some nice backing vocals by Kimock himself. Now this set list is starting to turn into something you don’t normally see at Kimock shows. If you came to hear all instrumental, long free form jams by Kimock, you would have been surprised.
Words: Brian Martin
Photos: Rachael Hawkins