After all these years, it still boggles my mind how the world isn’t more aware of the guitar prowess of Mr. Steve Kimock. Once called “his favorite unknown guitarist” by Jerry Garcia, Kimock’s bands of Zero and KVHW, along with varying lineups of his own Steve Kimock Band (SKB) have graced stages from the Bay Area to New York City’s jazz clubs to Japan over the past few decades. Having seen Kimock myself since about 1996 or so, I can honestly say he has a repertoire of songs that have impacted me in extremely emotional ways. The vast majority of Kimock’s songs are instrumental (at least in his solo band), which is all the more reason he lets his guitar do the talking for him. One song in particular, has resonated with me since the very first time I heard it: Tongue N’ Groove.
[Tongue N' Groove Sheet Music via Steve Kimock Discussion Group]
Tongue N’ Groove is a song that has always captured Kimock in a nutshell for me. Starting off slow and dreamlike, with a guitar tone that is unmistakably Kimock (something else he takes very, very seriously: tone and gear), it stretches its wings into the vast stratosphere before exploding into a rhythm-led funk/calypso type groove in the middle, eventually coming back to earth onto the landing pad of ethereal bliss and emotion that Kimock’s tunes can evoke.
Adding to the aura of what makes Kimock and his music – especially Tongue N’ Groove – so appealing to me and mesmerizes me every time I see him is his unassuming, closed eyes, often sit-down style of playing. With a rack of guitars for him to choose from at most times behind him, he is like a mad scientist of tone, pitch and perfection – and he is constantly tweaking with things until he gets it just exactly right. Tongue N’ Groove is exactly one of these songs that sees Kimock mess with volumes and tempos, all while steering the tune in a seemingly floating direction.
There are a few specific versions of the song that still resonate with me. The first is from the album, Live in Colorado, which was recorded in 2002. The other was from a trip I made out west for New Year’s Eve in 2005, when Kimock was playing The Great American Music Hall for four nights. The December 30th show ended with a stirring rendition that somehow seemed perfect at that exact moment in my life. (I’ve included both versions are included below). A cross-country trip with my best friend to celebrate the Bay Area with our west coast crew, a long journey, exploring Northern California and caught in the hustle and bustle of downtown San Fran, where I spent three nights in a cozy GAMH, this tune was the perfect culmination of my journey west with Kimock: at times floating and allowing the wind to show you where your next move would be and at times caught right in the pocket with an uncontrollable urge to dance and smile. In a nutshell, that’s what this song does for me – each and every time.
It’s often times hard to put something so majestically awesome into words that do it justice, so I just invite you to sit back, relax, put on your best pair of headphones, close your eyes and relish in the beauty that is Kimock’s Tongue N’ Groove, and one of my absolute favorites by him: