The March 12 edition of Greasy Tracks featured a two-hour spotlight on the careers of guitarist Steve Kimock and bassist Bobby Vega who have collaborated in a number of groups over three-plus decades.
Kimock’s latest effort, Last Danger of Frost (Red Barn Productions) comes out March 18 the day his East Coast tour opens in Ardmore, Penn.
Kimock plays StageOne in Fairfield on March 23 and Infinity Hall in Hartford on March 26 with a band featuring Vega, drummer John Morgan Kimock and Grammy-nominated multi-instrumentalist Leslie Mendelson who Kimock first worked with when doing studio sessions 1 2 3 with Bob Weir.
Originally from Pennsylvania, Kimock moved to California in the mid-1970s, and his playing has been widely compared to the style of Jerry Garcia, but he admitted he was not familiar with Garcia’s music in his formative years: “I wasn’t trying to sound like Jerry,” he said, “I was failing to sound like Roy Buchanan.”
Kimock and Vega first played together in the Marin, Calif.-based band Zero which was founded by Hartford native drummer Greg Anton. The group also included guitarist ex-Quicksilver Messenger Service guitarist John Cipollina and horn player Martin Fierro. While the band’s line-up would change over the years, the core remained Anton-Fierro-Kimock-Vega. They would release a handful of well-received, albeit not commercially successful studio and live recordings.
Bay Area native Vega has done sessions and live performances with a veritable who’s who of the rock, soul and blues world. One of his first gigs as a teen was playing a concert with Bo Diddley, but work with Sly Stone, Cold Blood, Paul Butterfield, Etta James, Tower of Power, Billy Preston, Santana, Babatunde Olatunji and Jefferson Starship among others would follow.
As a composer, Vega collaborated on soundtracks for the documentary Vietnam: A Television History; the Francis Ford Coppola film One from the Heart; and the video game Sonic The Hedgehog 3. Vega has consulted on some bass designs with luthier Tom Ribbecke.
When not involved with his own band, Kimock has been the go-to guitarist for many people.
Following the break-up of the Grateful Dead, Kimock and Vega played with former Dead keyboardist Vince Welnick’s Missing Man Formation. In 1998, he joined Dead alums Weir, Mickey Hart and Phil Lesh in The Other Ones. He did a brief stint with Phil & Friends in 1999. In 2006, he toured with ex-Dead drummers Hart and Bill Kreutzman in The Rhythm Devils and over the past few years, has regularly been part of Weir’s band, Ratdog.
His side projects The Steve Kimock Band, Steve Kimock and Friends and Steve Kimock Crazy Engine have included such players as Funkedelic keyboardist Bernie Worrell, long-time Garcia Band keyboardist Melvin Seals, drummer Prairie Prince, keyboardist Pete Sears and bassist Alphonso Johnson.
One of the most beloved Kimock-Vega collaborations was actually a Vega brainchild, KVHW, which featured ex-Frank Zappa vocalist/guitarist Ray White and drummer Allen Hertz. The group was only active for about two years, but incorporated an interesting mix of originals, soul staples and of course, some choice Zappa selections.
Click here to see the first-ever KVHW performance.
John Morgan Kimock just wrapped up a tour with Mike Gordon (Phish), Scott Maurawski (Max Creek), Craig Myers and Robert Walter (Greyboy Allstars).
Greasy Tracks, which airs Saturdays 3:30-5:30 p.m., is the longest-running soul and blues show in Connecticut.