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Thursday, May 17

Interview: Going Brazilian With Steve Kimock

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In lieu of his most expansive tour in years, guitar virtuoso Steve Kimock was gracious enough to sit down with Grateful Music's Kevin Long and answer questions on a wide variety of topics. He discusses everything from his all-star band to the state of the music business. I found Steve every bit as fascinating and complex as I find his music. His raw honesty was a breath of fresh air. Enjoy:    


 Let’s start off talking about your exciting year. You have had some epic shows thus far. Which one was your favorite and why?


S.K  My favorite! Wow,… Man…..When did we start the year again? (Laughing)


It started as usual on Jam Cruise. (Also Laughing)


S.K  That’s right! Jam Cruise was neat because I got to hang out with Hornsby and I have not hung with him in a while so that was fun. But, man there was a couple of wacky shows so far this year. I did some fun stuff with Billy Goodman, doing that acoustic duo thing. I sat in with the band in the pouring rain somewhere and that was fun. The Ratdog reunion, there has been a bunch of great stuff. But you know, it’s hard to keep track of it. It’s kind of kaleidoscopic. My playing day to day is kind of the constant in all of it. I remember more of that these days instead of the gigs. Which are always at least from my perspective, they are all crazy, wild and they all seem unique. It’s kind of hard to single any one of them out; I can’t point my finger at this one or that one. I just played with the Les Paul Trio at the Iridium. Which was definitely unique, but they all are.   


How was it reuniting with Ray White again? Those shows had to be a blast.


S.K. Oh yea, I love every chance I get to play with him. It is always a thrill. He was down at the Sweetwater shows as well. I kind of lost track of him, he has moved somewhere. I forget where he lives. Where does he live now? 


I am not sure. I know he left the coast.


S.K. Yea, I moved to Pennsylvania and he moved to Mars or wherever.(Laughing) 


That Happens sometimes. (Both of us enjoying a good laugh)


Let’s talk about your upcoming tour. Once again you have assembled an amazing band. You have Bernie Worrall playing keys - that has to be a thrill. The great Wally Ingram will be on drums. Then you are starting the tour with Reed Mathis and then Andy Hess is taking over the bass duties after three shows. My question is, are you concerned or have you given any thought to how this will change the dynamic of the band?


S.K  I love having Bernie in the band and to answer your question. No, I have not thought about how it’s going to change the sound.  I do recognize and respect the fact that it will. They are different guys and they bring different stuff. I am totally fine with that, I just love both their playing so much. It’s not top, it’s not like, oh god we are going to wake up in the morning and be a different band. It’s going to be the same band with a different attitude. I can’t wait. 


You have made it known we will be hearing new material this tour. Would you like to elaborate on this topic?  Are these brand new songs you have written?


S.K  There will be as many and as different as I can manage without freighting the band every night. Luckily for me, Bernie does not live far away and he gets to come over. So we hang out and lock ourselves in the barn, work on music and just have a great time. There have been opportunities for collaborations and we have been working on stuff. 


So that begs the question, are you thinking about a new studio release?


S.K. You know it comes up every day. Hey, I’m going to make a record. Eventually what happens is the nature of the music business these days…. you kind of don’t make any money. It is expensive; if you want to make a descent record it cost a lot of money. Certainty I will get one together with Bernie down the road. It’s just the financial incentive and the financial penalty. I forgot the exact statistic but it something like a million records are released every year and the average one sells one hundred copies. I mean who would lend you money to make a record today. It does not make sense with all the coping, piracy and everyone expecting it for free. It cost a lot of money and takes a ton of time with many professional people to make a good record and in the end you get ripped off. So it does not happen as often as it used to. So what you get without that mail-box money is more bands on the road competing for fewer dollars. We all know the economy is in the tank and gas prices are so high. The state of the music business is daunting. I worry for my son who is just a fantastic musician and better person. How can young musicians travel to get their music heard? 


We took questions from your fans that they would like me to ask you.  A majority of them wanted certain songs brought back. I am curious with such an extensive catalog of songs and educated fans. What is your creative process in choosing songs for the tour and do you give any thought to dusting off a classic or two?

S.K. It’s interesting you should mention that. Most the dusting off is by request. It’s not so much part of the process I go through and try to figure out what to dust off. The stuff that happens in this creative collective way we do things, when working in my scene. The process that makes it go mostly wants to happen. Something is always saying yes, there is always a bunch of stuff on the table. Some of it is saying maybe, we go with what wants to happen. It is a collective process, someone in the band will say let’s play X, Y or Z. Like this funky Beatles song (I don’t want to give it away) Andy suggested it and I would have never thought of it. I don’t go out of my way looking for easy shots.


The last time you toured this extensive was with Crazy Engine, any chance of revisiting that project? 


S.K. Um, yea…maybe. It’s not the kind of thing I would know in advance. Normally the process is if it wants to happen it does. Those were the people available and we were like, yea let’s play. Could it happen again? Sure. Am I going to make that happen rather than allowing what wants to happen? No, probably not. 


Speaking of Crazy Engine, what was it like playing with your son?


S.K I can’t explain it in words. It is so much more than I could have hoped for. With all the stuff that has happened in my life, to have my first born to be so close to me and love music so much is awesome. There really is no way to explain how cool it is. I mean he is here right now, we play all the time. 


You have played with so many icons. Is there a musician you have not played with, but would love to?


S.K. Wow, there is too many to name. This question just came up the other day in an interview and I have given it some thought and thought about like that.  I have that sense of wanting to play music, but it’s not to play with people I have not played with. It’s not that personified. It’s not an individual embodiment of that. My thinking right now is I have such a long love for African music and Brazilian music. If I had the option to go do something I have never done before it would be to immerse myself in those cultures and linger there. I never had real firsthand experience playing that music. I can listen to the music and watch videos of it. But that’s not the same has playing with them. Those are the musical experiences I long for. Here is an example: I would love to play with Van Morrison. But would that be as hip at the end of the day as going to India for a couple of months. I have been immersed in this culture and I know there is more. 


On the flip side of that question, with all the legends you have played with. Do you ever have moments on stage where you can’t believe who you are making music with? Moments were you almost have to pinch yourself, and what were some?


S.K. (Laughing) Oh hell yea! There are plenty of those, all the time. It could be anything.  Basically, the idea with me when you’re playing music on stage with anybody, I feel like I got the best seat in the house. Whether it’s a small project or I am on a huge stage with Steve Winwood. That was a huge pinch me moment, when I was up there playing “Dear Mr. Fantasy”. You get that little voice in your head “holy shit”, he is so good. Maybe, that’s the stuff that makes it worth it. I don’t know. Or maybe it’s just makes a good story. Those moments are like small slices of film, of a very long movie. I am not one to look back. Besides my own personal take on extraordinary, it probably a lot different than most. 


To change topics, I am obsessed with your guitars. I have to know which one is your favorite to play on stage? 


S.K. Wow, let me think. Nobody has ever asked me this before. Historically certain instruments have become favored. That is different than favorite. But the ones that have had some kind of an enduring utility, such that they are always there. Obviously the 1960 Stratocaster and the Explorer. Those definitely get picked up most often. Stylistically my favorite stuff is not what I pick up on stage right now. I am into the acoustic stuff. I guess I would have to say the Explorer on stage. I think I get the most bang for the buck.


Who is the most played artist on your iPod?


S.K. Someone speaking Portuguese or Spanish.  I love to listen to music from all around the world. I like to expose myself to as much different stuff as I can. 


Last Question. What should we expect from this tour? What are you looking forward to? 


S.K (Laughing) I think you are giving me too much credit, thinking I am in control of what is happening. It’s sort of the unknown of it all. I enjoy not knowing what’s to come and I know that’s going to happen. 

The tour has started; the unknown he speaks of took place right from the start at The Brooklyn Bowl in New York. He was joined on stage by his son for the entire show. John Popper and guitarist Bobby Bryan sat in for many dusty classics. Both bassists also performed. Do yourself a favor and catch this band. Right after this interview took place Steve announced a West-Coast run of dates before he heads off to Japan to play.  Below is a list of his upcoming tour dates.
5/18 Cleveland, OH - Beachland Ballroom
5/19 Chicago, IL - Bottom Lounge
5/20 St. Louis, MO - Old Rock House
5/21 Bloomington, IN - Bluebird
5/22 Nashville, TN - Exit / In
5/24 Orlando, FL - Plaza Live
5/25 Tampa, FL - The Ritz Ybor
5/26 Atlanta, GA - Variety Playhouse
5/27 Ft. Lauderdale, FL - Culture Room
5/29 Charleston, SC - Pour House
5/30 Asheville, NC - Grey Eagle
5/31 Raleigh, NC - Lincoln Theatre
6/1 Charlottesville, VA - Jefferson Theatre
6/2 Baltimore, MD - Soundstage
6/3 Harrisburg, PA - Abbey Bar
6/4 Washington, DC - Howard Theatre
West Coast Dates & Japan
7/18 Harlow’s Nightclub – Sacramento, CA
7/19 El Rey Theatre – Chico, CA
7/20 Crystal Bay – Tahoe, CA
7/21 Fillmore, SF, CA
7/22 Moe’s Alley – Santa Cruz, CA
7/25 Sainte Rocke – Hermosa Beach, CA
7/28 Fuji Rock Fest – Japan
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