Kimock Club Helsinki New York June 10 2017 by Miles Hurley

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taped by Brian Goldstein

Last week, virtuoso guitarist Steve Kimock embarked on a brief but fantastic tour of the northeast, with his latest musical project, dubbed simply Kimock. Featuring his son John Morgan on drums, longtime bassist Bobby Vega, and singer and pianist and guitarist Leslie Mendelson, it’s for sure a new kind of experiment for Steve.

Kimock the band still resonates with the beauty of the kind of material, and live abilities, that Steve is known for, but in contrast to stuff of yester years it is more song-based, almost like a singer-songwriter sit-down kind of a show. But to be sure, thanks to the immaculate skills of his bandmates,  it is not at all lacking of the heady, explorative type of playing the legendary guitarist is known to produce.

On Saturday, the tour to Club Helsinki, a very neat little club in the artistic haven that is Hudson, NY. With a cool space that also boasts some nice acoustics, this show shined in all directions, especially in that it was played to a whole room full of Kimock fans, whom were enthralled with each step of the night. The band started off with some material off the album they recently released, called Sagan, a nod to the late great scientific think Carl Sagan.

What stands out first, other than the great playing from Steve, his son, and Vega, is Mendelson on vocals, who commands a rapturous voice that, to no surprise, is perfect for Steve’s type of groove. On “Philadelphia Mambo,” the latin jam cover which Steve introduced as the song from which Deep Purple took their “Smoke On The Water” riff, John Morgan really shined, utilizing the whole kit with very bombastic playing.

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They gave next a more than fine take on “Sisters and Brothers,” a Jerry tune that the band has been perfecting across a few different dates on this mini tour. A little faster than the original, and nice and dancey, it rivals some of the best versions of this tune out there. And it provided a candid moment for Mendelson, by the time of the third verse in the song. She lifted her head to sing, and following a moment of silence, instead said to the crowd, “Oh God. I’ve done this song so many times and I’m drawing a blank on the lyrics. So, we’re just going to play some more until I can think of them.” A very charming way to handle that situation (Leslie all around seems like just a benign and humble soul, just Steve and the rest of the gang), it drew out some well meaning, enjoyable chuckles from not only the whole crowd but her bandmates as well, including Steve.

Set one ended with “Orson,” a dreamy that turns inspiration from the late brilliant thinker Carl Sagan into psychedelic gold. Over a much more cosmic stretch of playing now from the whole band, an audio recording of Sagan played to the crowd, which mystified the small club in such an amazing way. Set two launched the night way further up into musical heights, with a whole lot of improvisation bringing some truly groovy jams. Mendelson offered lush and enticing vocals on “Crazy Fingers,” which the band also carried along for a lengthy, definitely unique jam. Steve’s classic “5b4 Funk” also went for a stellar, lengthy ride of funky exploration, upon which Mendelson displayed a different level of skill to her musicianship: fluid, jazzy improv chops that fit in between the amped up playing of Steve, Bobby and John Morgan in a really cool way. Her light touch upon the keys melded gooily with Steve’s own awesome soloing on guitar, making for a kind of surreal get down take on the tune.

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But then next, came perhaps the highlight, as Steve hopped on his lap steel for a blessed “Many Rivers To Cross.” One of the staple covers in his repertoire, in Steve’s hands the Jimmy Cliff tune has never sounded more pristinely beautiful. Kimock has the most delicate, yet stinging, touch upon his lap steel, and utters out the tune with such pathos that it’s one of those songs that freezes you in awe. And with Vega’s bass here now booming with a full and extra deep tone, Club Helsinki riveted in a feel-good bubble of sonic bliss. The band finished out with Mendelson stepping on guitar for a definitely fun cover, Bruce Cockburn’s “Waiting For A Miracle,” and then Kimock’s “Golden Road.”

Here is hoping that Kimock the band is here to stay, and that we’ll see future tours from this iteration of players. Because in the gorgeous colorful sounds, sophisticated playing, and just amicable vibe in general, it truly holds up with some of the best stuff Steve has conjured up through his career.

Kimock 6/10/17 @ Club Helsinki Setlist:   Set I: Careless Love Maria Quiet Tongue and Groove Philadelphia Mambo My Sisters and Brothers   Set II: Oroson Variation Mother’s Song Crazy Fingers 5B4 Funk Many Rivers To Cross Waiting For a Miracle Golden Road

To submit a review or story for consideration hit us at [email protected]

Check out the Live Music News and Facebook page for updates and announcements.