This upcoming Wednesday, Guitar Virtuoso, Steve Kimock brings his first full-scale tour in over 2 years to Buffalo’s, The Tralf Music Hall. Along with him for the ride is founding member of Parliament Funkadelic, Bernie Worrell on keys, Wally Ingram from Timbuk 3 on drums, and Tea Leaf Green’s Reed Mathis, and former Gov’t Mule member Andy Hess sharing bass duties, with the latter, Hess, performing on the Buffalo date. This is an absolute must see show, Kimock never disappoints live, and this line-up is extra stellar. Earlier today we got a chance to speak with Steve about what we can expect from this tour, we also talked about his life playing guitar, touched on a little bit of politics, and talked a little about his family life.
CC: We’re excited to have you coming back to Buffalo this Wednesday at the Tralf Music Hall…
On this tour you’re out with Bernie Worrell, Wally Ingram, and with Reed Mathis and Andy Hess sharing time touring on bass, how did this collaboration come about and what should we expect from this upcoming tour?
SK: What you should expect from this upcoming tour from me is some new music, and some new approaches to that. And what I would consider some really unique chemistry that Bernie and I, and Wally have together, we have some really great fun!
CC: How old were you when you picked up guitar, and was it your first choice for an instrument?
SK: I must have been pretty young, like 6th or 7th Grade, and it was not my first choice. The first choice story is actually kinda funny and ironic in a way. My mom says “Do you want to play an instrument?” and I was kinda like “I don’t know, what is a cool instrument?” What did I know? I was a little kid. Then I decided, okay, how about the Violin? So, across the street from my grandmas house, at Mr. Paychecks house, the youngest of the Paycheck kids had a Violin.
So I was supposed to cross the street, by myself and knock on the door and ask to see about the violin. So I cross the street by myself, and I look into the screen door of their house, down the hall, and I see the guy with the violin, and he’s talking on the phone and he’s got the cord of the phone and the cord of the violin stretched across the room, and he’s got a fender amplifier pointed directly at the door, and I hear him say “Hey, I just got this new electric violin, check this out!” And he hits the electric violin on the fender amp, playing directly at my 11 year old head, and it was so loud that I screamed in horror and ran away. And so I didn’t do the violin because I thought it was too loud, so I picked electric guitar instead, it was quieter.
CC: Once you did pick up guitar, Who were your influences?
SK: Really, the formative influences to just get it done, was mostly family. Like pushing me to go ahead and play. My Aunt Dottie and Cousin Denny are primarily responsible for creating the kind of atmosphere in which it was possible to play. And then after that, it was you know, whatever a teenager back then was listening to in that punk sort of way we listened, you know. Santana, or MC5 or Black Sabbath or something, you know. Whatever was rocking. Captain
Beefheart we used to like, and Wild Man Fischer too.
CC: What pedals and other effects do you use to get your sound so unique?
SK: I think my sound mostly comes from my guitar. My pedals modify it a little bit, but it’s still primarily recognizable as a guitar sound, most of the time. But the stuff I use is not really any different than the stuff that would’ve been used 30, 40, 50, 60 years ago. There’s tube amplifiers, Paper cone loudspeakers, and Tape Echo and Germanium fuzz boxes and stuff like that. The technology itself is not exactly new. I’m technologically sorta stuck in the 40’s. There’s nothing really in my rig that a decent tech in the late 40’s or early 50’s would’ve had any trouble understanding. (Laughs)
CC: Other than Guitar, what other instruments do you favor, I personally love Lap Steel?
SK: Oh yea, you know, I think all just guitar. The playing styles themselves are some kind of variation on the guitar. But you know, certainly the lap steel, I love that. And I’m playing more fretless these days, and I really like that. And playing bottleneck, anything to get off of the frets, you know. So I can have a little more direct involvement, and responsibility for the pitch and the harmonies and stuff that’s happening. I like that. Maybe I should’ve played the violin. (Laughs)
CC: How come KVHW stopped touring, and do you foresee you guys ever getting back together in the future for shows?
SK: I mean, that was the happening thing for a couple of months, and everybody had other things to do, you know what I mean. Eventually we will bump into each other on stage at some point, but I don’t know if anybody is rushing to make that happen. That band was truly just a product of it’s time, and sort of a creative moment. It would be difficult to put it back together and have it mean anything.
CC: What are your thoughts on the job Obama has done in his first 4 years?
SK: I don’t know, Is pot legal yet? If you wanna know how I think anybody is doing at their job in the government, I would just ask you one question, Is pot legal yet? You know, I get every day on my phone in my email, Michelle Obama, she must know me personally, she is constantly asking for 5 bucks. Its like, how about roll me a fucking joint! You know, I’ll give you all the 5 bucks you want, Legalize pot!
CC: What are your thoughts on the future of the legalization of marijuana in Pennsylvania specifically? Because I’ve read that legislators are trying to get a bill passed up to the governor.
SK: Well, I mean, its kind of inevitable you know, that people are going to be forced at some point to recognize that the medical thing at least has enough legitimacy that you can’t keep medicine from sick people for political reasons. Especially at the level that Medical Marijuana makes sense, because it’s really helping people that are very sick. It’s just gonna take forever, you know what I mean. The law enforcement, the prison systems, the courts, all the stuff that generates money off of it being illegal, those are some powerful special interest groups.
CC: How do you feel about your son following in your footsteps and becoming a great musician in his own right?
SK: I’m totally 100% thrilled to death! He is awesome man! He’s such a cool guy, such a great player. I love that he’s doing as well as he’s doing, and doing exactly what he wants to do, you know. I think its great. It’s more than I could have ever hoped for or asked for. I really feel like I’m jinxing myself or something like that, but Johnny’s accomplishments and my kids in general are definitely the high point in my life.
CC: You play with just about everybody. Is there anyone you haven’t played with, that you would like to, or wish you had the chance to before they passed away?
SK: Yeah, It would have been nice to be able to play with everybody, for real. You know, at this point, because this question has come up before, and there is just too many people to omit and feel good about the answer, I’m really more interested in getting to spend some time immersed in some musical cultures in some other countries. You know, in this stage of my life, it’s not really about playing with this guy or that guy. That’s not really where I’m at. I would like to go to India and live, and understand their music a little more first hand. Or I’d like to do the same thing in Brazil, Or the same thing in Africa, or Vietnam, or even Europe. I’ve done it in America. I’ve lived here, I’ve played with people, I’ve got the idea. And really going to different places is what I’d like to do.
CC: Who do you consider your biggest mentor?
SK: Oh man, Yeah. Well there was one guy, named Joe Carroll, who was a Bass player. I learned a lot of music from him, in the time that he was around. He has passed away since. So I’ve learned a lot from a bass player, that was cool. But I’ve learned a lot from everybody I’ve worked with, for sure. And people who were closer to me, were bigger influences on me then like second hand influences. Like if somebody is right there. Like my friend Billy Goodman, songwriter, bottleneck guitarist. Billy is just such an awesome singer and songwriter, and awesome bottleneck guitar player, and we’ve been so close for so many years, that I can’t help being more influenced by him, then guys that you would consider like more iconicly well known bottleneck guitar players, like Duane Allman or someone like that. Although I am really a huge Duane Allman fan, It’s impossible to say I’m not more influenced by Billy. But then again there aren’t many people who are as amazing as Duane Allman is, and he was such a huge influence. I just need to make the point, that there is people that you listen to and say “Oh, That’s far out” and then there is people that are like right there with you, and their whole thing is far out. I rest my point at that.
CC: What is your personal favorite era of the Grateful Dead’s music, to listen to, and to play live.
SK: You know, I don’t differentiate the era’s to play, well, because my opportunities to play that stuff have mostly come from playing with those guys, or playing with people that actually know the music. I don’t really know it that well. My favorite stuff to listen to though, was definitely the 70’s. There was a period in the 70’s, where Jerry’s playing and singing were just very clean, and very very straight forward and beautiful, you know. It was just so straight ahead, it
was awesome. It’s really hard to say exactly, because there is great stuff I’ve heard from every era, but I don’t follow it that closely. I don’t have like an archival knowledge of their shows, like dates and eras. I just know when I hear the Stratocaster, I love the Stratocaster!
CC: When you’re not out touring, Besides playing music, what do you do in your free time?
SK: I just get beat up by my kids, you know. You know, run around with the kids, reading them books, giving them baths. My kids, that really where I would wanna spend most of my free time. I do some musical studying, that’s not really playing music, where its just like tune, or stuff with the tone, just not guitar playing specifically. Then I take that stuff on the road and actually try and work it in.
CC: Thank you for your time Steve, It was great talking with ya!
SK: Alright buddy, Thanks!