Steve Kimock, Bobby Vega: Still Strong After 30+ Years

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.

Go here for Hour 1Hour 2 and the playlist.

Steve Kimock (left) , John Morgan Kimock and Bobby Vega in concert at The Center For The Arts in Grass Valley, Calif., (Alan Sheckter photo)

On The Road Again: Steve Kimock (left), John Morgan Kimock and Bobby Vega in concert at The Center For The Arts in Grass Valley, Calif. (Alan Sheckter photo)

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.

Steve Kimock's latest project, Last Danger of Frost comes out on March 18.

Steve Kimock’s latest project, Last Danger of Frost comes out on March 18.

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.

High On  You: Bobby Vega in the studio during the recording of "I Get High On You" with Sly Stone. (Warren Harris photo).

In Session With Sly: Bobby Vega in the studio during the recording of “I Get High On You” with Sly Stone. (Warren Harris photo).

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.

 Here Goes Nothin': Jerry Garcia (center) sits in with Zero at the Golden Gate Park Bandshell on July 16, 1986. From left and Steve Kimock play during an all-star jam at the Golden Gate Park Band Shell in San Francisco in 1988. (Rob Cohn photo)

Here Goes Nothin’: Jerry Garcia (center) sits in with Zero at the Golden Gate Park Bandshell on July 16, 1988. From left is guitarist John Cipollina, drummer Greg Anton, Kimock and Vega. (Rob Cohn photo)

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.

Paying tribute: Steve Kimock (left), Dan Lebowitz and Bobby Vega perform at the Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley, Calif. (Susan J. Weiand photo)

Paying Tribute: Kimock (left), Dan Lebowitz and Vega perform at the Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley, Calif., in 2015 during a tribute to the soulful side of Jerry Garcia. (Susan J. Weiand photo)

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.

The Old Days: Vega (left) and Kimock with Zero in 1987. (Rob Cohn photo)

The Old Days: Vega and Kimock with Zero in 1987. (Rob Cohn photo)

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.

2 thoughts on “Steve Kimock, Bobby Vega: Still Strong After 30+ Years

  1. Is this picture of Zero with JG dated correctly? Jerry went into coma on 7/13 that year. I thought he was out for a few weeks following that.

  2. A good catch .. it was indeed 1988 when the newer, improved, at least for a little while, Garcia was back on stage!

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