The preceding two hours found the band – also known as K I M O C K, but billed colloquially as the SKQ for this performance – playing plenty of lengthy, jazz-centric pieces interspersed with bits of reggae, rock ‘n’ roll, soul, bossa nova, contemplative music and more.
Throughout the two-set performance, guitarist Steve Kimock, who served as the band’s opening act with a fragile and ponderous instrumental played on lap slide, filled in the dotted line that runs between Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Les Paul, Pat Metheney, Jerry Garcia and Stevie Ray Vaughan with boldness and authority as he played steel, acoustic and solid- and hollow-body electric guitars.
Supported by his former Zero bandmate bassist Bobby Vega, who played acoustic and electric basses and proved an innovative and captivating musician, and his drummer/son John Morgan Kimock, who played with brushes and sticks – and sometimes both – and spent a lot of time riding his cymbals, Kimock (the player) shouted off-mic instructions to the musicians and shared band-leading duties with guitarist/pianist/vocalist Leslie Mendelson, a chanteuse in the vein of Nora Jones but with stronger pipes but perhaps not quite the same keyboard skills.
Mendelson gave K I M O C K (the band) its personality and charm. And even though the show was majority instrumental by a hair, her vocals on tracks like the Grateful Dead’s lilting “Crazy Fingers” and Elizabeth’s Cotten’s “Oh Babe, It’s Ain’t No Lie,” which she sang as “baby” and capped with a line from “The Jeffersons” theme, were highlights even as she was surrounded by musical excellence that sometimes got lost in wonky arrangements.
Though the band was named after the guitarist, Mendelson was the nominal leader, rocking a vintage, grey Bowie T while her bandmates dressed in black. She delivered every vocal of the evening, save for the verses she swapped with Kaukonen on a sinewy and loose rendition of Bessie Smith’s “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out,” delivered by the duo, with Kimock and sans rhythm section.
Kaukonen, the Fur Peace captain, pushed K I M O C K to new heights as he transformed the quartet to a quintet with bookending appearances on acoustic and electric guitar during the 90-minute second set.
Like most shows at the intimate Fur Peach Ranch, this one was a loose affair between old friends and colleagues. Kaukonen surprised Kimock by leaving a personalized Ohio license plate on stage for the guitarist and the pair looked to be having a personal and musical reunion that only they understood as they faced off and traded solos on the aforementioned Cockburn track. The result was a unique, 145-minute performance that the temporarily rechristened Steve Kimock Quartet will never come close to replicating no matter how many shows it plays going forward.
So this is from a show years ago, but it’s great so… From the Fur Peace Ranch youtube page: