Steve Kimock & Friends: A Tribute To Jerry Garcia
Ardmore Music Hall
This statement rang true when Steve Kimock & Friends performed some of their favorite Jerry Garcia tunes at Ardmore Music Hall. Over four decades of performing live the guitar wizard became close friends and has had the opportunity on many occasions to share the stage with The Grateful Dead. With the psychedelic Bay Area group celebrating fifty-years, it is fitting that Kimock pays homage to his friend and Grateful Dead guitarist/vocalist, Jerry Garcia. A group of accomplished musicians joined him onstage this evening, Bobby Vega (Bass), Bill Vitt (Drums), John Morgan Kimock (Drums), Jeff Chimenti (Keyboards/Organ), and Dan Lebowitz (Guitar/Vocals).
As the band took the stage in front of a capacity crowd on Sunday night there were hoots and hollers in anticipation of what the super group was going to start the evening off with. “High Heeled Sneakers” kicked off the set, with Kimock’s smooth guitar and Chimenti’s steady keys starting off the tune. This was a perfect beginning to the night. Dan Lebowitz, from ALO (Animal Liberation Orchestra) took the opportunity to let his voice shine on the opener. With the funky bass of Vega and Kimock’s tasty guitar licks, “Merle’s Boogie,” brought a smile to everyone in attendance. Chimenti took center stage during the song with a flawless solo on his organ. You could hear a pin drop as the band started into a perfect rendition of the classic number, “Black Muddy River.” Drummers Vitt and John Morgan Kimock laid down a nice soothing backbeat as the elder Kimock took the spotlight with his graceful lap steel.
Vega started out “Expressway to Your Heart” with a bassline that led Chimenti and Steve Kimock to join in the tune seamlessly. This number during the first set reminded everyone in attendance why Vega is considered one of the most well rounded bassists in the jamband world. The extended take on the Soul Survivors classic gave each band member time to shine throughout the seventeen-plus minutes. To conclude the opening set guitarists Kimock and Lebowitz stepped up to the microphone to sing
“Money Honey” which was first recorded by Garcia and longtime friend and musician, Merl Saunders, on The Keystone Companions: The Complete 1973 Fantasy Recordings. As the band was introduced the sold out Ardmore Music Hall was smiling from ear to ear and waiting to hear what the group had in store for them during the second set.
As the band took the stage and the capacity crowd settled back in the sextet opened the second set with “Aiko Aiko,” which made Ardmore feel like it was down in New Orleans for Mardi Gras. The band then pleased the capacity crowd by performing a stellar rendition of The Grateful Dead classic, “Bertha.” With a deep, prominent bass groove and the backing of Vitt & Kimock on drums, with the pair sounding just the rhythm devils Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzman, the band really connected with the fans on this one. Lebowitz lent his vocals and acoustic guitar expertise and Chimenti performed a solo for the ages. You could feel the energy in the room that was going back and forth between the band and crowd during “Bertha.” It was pure magic. Next Kimock quieted the crowd with a moving rendition of “Stella Blue,” that was laced with some of his chilling pedal steel work.
The band threw a curveball into the mix when they started out with the Grateful Dead classic “Help On The Way,” which slid easily into its common partner “Slipknot!” before throwing the crowd for a loop as it then transitioned smoothly into the Jesse Stone number, “Don’t Let Go,” which then moved into a perfect segue into “Philadelphia Mambo.” The group capped the night off paying homage to J.J. Cale with a version of “After Midnight,” that included The Beatles “Eleanor Rigby.”