Steve Kimock is perhaps the quintessential Bay Area guitarist, playing in a variety of jazz-rock ensembles from the instrumental Zero to the post-Grateful Dead configurations of the Other Ones and Phil Lesh & Friends. Born in Lancaster, PA, where he played music with family members, Kimock migrated to the Bay Area in the mid-'70s to play with the Goodman Brothers.
Kimock began to play around the area in a variety of outfits, including the Underdogs (with flutist Martin Fierro). He soon began to refine his signature style -- laid-back, carefree, fat, and extremely melodious. In terms of vibe, Kimock has often been compared to the late Jerry Garcia (who once proclaimed Kimock to be his favorite unknown guitarist). Kimock's long association with the Grateful Dead family began in 1979, when he joined Keith and Donna Jean Godchaux's short-lived Heart of Gold Band (which disbanded soon after Keith Godchaux died in an automobile accident). In the Heart of Gold Band, Kimock crossed paths with drummer Greg Anton.
In 1984, the pair co-founded Zero, an instrumental unit comprised of the pair, along with Fierro, Bobby Vega on electric bass, Pete Sears on keyboards, and former Quicksilver Messenger Service member John Cippolina on guitar. At the behest of Dead lyricist Robert Hunter, the group added vocalist Judge Murphy in 1991. Though the group became a Bay Area institution, recording a half-dozen albums of hippie-ish fusion, they never quite caught on nationally. Throughout his tenure in Zero, Kimock continued to perform with various musicians as Steve Kimock & Friends, with which he released a self-titled album.
When Zero disbanded in the late '90s, Kimock continued on with KVHW, a quartet comprised of himself, Zero bassist Vega, drummer Alan Hertz, and former Frank Zappa sideman Ray White. Around this time, Kimock began to gig regularly with post-Dead configurations, such as the Other Ones (featuring most of the surviving members of the band) in the summers of 1998 and 2000, as well as some of bassist Phil Lesh's projects, through 1999. After a falling out with Lesh, Kimock continued on with KVHW, where he refined his work on electric guitar, as well as lap and pedal steel.
After the departure of White, KVHW morphed into the Steve Kimock Band, which featured Kimock and Vega along with a rotating crew of guitarists and drummers. Eventually, the lineup solidified with drummer Rodney Holmes and guitarist Mitch Stein. Vega left the band in 2001 and was replaced by Alphonso Johnson (coincidentally Lesh's replacement in the 2001 edition of the Other Ones). In 2001, they issued Live in Colorado. In 2002, they released the double set East Meets West. ~ Jesse Jarnow, Rovi