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Steve Kimock and Friends coming to Big Island

March 17, 2017 - 1:05am

Steve Kimock is quite simply one of the finest improvisational guitarists alive, and he’s bringing his music and a very cool band — Steve Kimock and Friends, featuring Jeff Chimenti (Dead and Company) on keys, Bobby Vega (Sly and the Family Stone and Zero) on bass and Wally Ingram (David Lindley and Sheryl Crow) on drums — to the Big Island.

Steve Kimock and Friends is a special band. Kimock’s musical love affair with Chimenti, one of the finest keyboardists around, produces more smiles and great music per second than one can imagine. Vega has been Kimock’s bass partner since the early 1980s with Zero. Ingram plays with Kimock as though they’ve been on the same stage for just as long.

SK &F, as they are also known, takes the stage at 7 p.m. on March 25 at Honokaa People’s Theatre on the Hamakua Coast following two Honolulu shows.

Whether with all the living members of the Grateful Dead, his band Voodoo Dead, with Parliament/Funkadelic co-founder Bernie Worrell or his solo acoustic project Last Danger of Frost, Kimock has proven himself a master of improvisation for more than four decades, in the process 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.

Kimock co-founded the jazz/rock band Zero in the 1980s and KVHW in the ‘90s; since then, he has recorded and toured in various outfits under his own name. His collaborations with assorted band mates and groups have provided an everlasting wellspring of inspiration for the guitarist, and he has shared the stage with a seemingly endless array of international musical luminaries.

Over the years, he’s recorded and toured with Bruce Hornsby and worked extensively with the late Merl Saunders. Additionally, he has shared the stage with The Allman Brothers, Bonnie Raitt, Buddy Miles, Derek Trucks, Elvin Bishop, George Porter Jr., Grace Potter, Grace Slick, Joe Satriani, Jorma Kaukonen, Keller Williams, Little Feat, Nicky Hopkins, Norton Buffalo, Papa John Creach, Peter Frampton, all members of Phish, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Stephen Perkins, Steve Winwood, Taj Mahal, Todd Rundgren and Warren Haynes, among many others.

Born in 1955 in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, as a preteen Kimock spent plenty of time at the home of his aunt, Dorothy Siftar, a folk singer who played the Philadelphia Folk Festival with Pete Seeger and had an abundance of stringed and percussive instruments in her home. Around this time, Kimock’s cousin, Kenny, returned from military service overseas and taught Kimock his first rock ‘n’ roll licks on a Gold Top Les Paul (which, incidentally and decades later, Kimock now owns). It wasn’t long until Kimock got his own guitar, a $10 acoustic that he began playing 12 hours a day, every day. It changed his life forever.

After playing in a series of high school bands, Kimock joined the Goodman Brothers Band, which first moved to northern California in 1974. He fell in with the Bay Area’s local music scene and began playing in a variety of outfits, including the salsa band The Underdogs with flautist/saxophonist Martin Fierro. In 1979, he joined the short-lived Heart of Gold Band with former Grateful Dead members Keith and Donna Godchaux and drummer Greg Anton. 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 Cipollina.

It was during the Zero era that Kimock would define his fluid style of melodious improvisation. During their initial time together, Zero released five albums including 1987’s debut “Here Goes Nothin’”; 1990’s “Nothin’ Goes Here;” 1991’s “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.

He also spent time with KVHW, a much-lauded though short-lived quartet, at the end of the century and in 2006 reunited with Anton and Fierro for Zero before Fierro’s death in March 2008. Before forming in 2009 the upbeat, gospel-influenced, soul-rock band Steve Kimock Crazy Engine, he performed with Bob Weir’s King Fish and toured with RatDog, in addition to post-Grateful Dead ensembles including The Other Ones, Phil Lesh and Friends, and the Rhythm Devils featuring Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann.

In March 2011, Zero reunited for the 20th anniversary of the Chance in a Million recording sessions at San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall; the band still plays select shows and benefit performances in the Bay Area, today.

In 2012, Kimock took the helm once again and hit the road with a new lineup, including Parliament Funkadelic/Talking Heads, Hall of Famer Bernie Worrell, drummer Wally Ingram, and bassist Andy Hess. The band played new original material while celebrating Kimock’s rich catalog of music. Kimock released a digital free live EP of the band.

He followed with the return of a rollicking, revamped Steve Kimock &Friends after touring with RatDog in 2013-14.

Tickets for the March 25 Honokaa show range in price from $40 to $55 and can be purchased online at, by calling (808) 896-4845 or at Kona Music Exchange, Sound Wave Music and Kiernan’s Music in North and South Kona, Waimea General Store in Waimea, Taro Patch Gifts in Honokaa and Hilo Guitars, CD Wizard and Hilo Music Exchange in Hilo, and Keaau Natural Foods in Puna.


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