click to enlarge
CB-3 (Chris Berry Trio) Featuring Steve Kimock and Peter Apfelbaum (Trey Anastasio Band)
Feb 26-Feb 27, 2010
10:30pm shows $20 advance, $25 at-the-door
What happens when you put African grooves born in the ghettos of Zimbabwe with the ground breaking guitar work of San Francisco’s scene and combine it with New York City’s urban electronica? CB-3 (Chris Berry Trio) Featuring Steve Kimock.
For more information about CB-3
Chris Berry Trio
Performing under the guise of CB-3, Chris Berry has arranged his most interesting collaboration yet. Featuring San Francisco’s own Steve Kimock alongside the rhythm section of the Brazillian Girls comes an explosive cross-cultural musical experience for music lovers of all types - CB-3 (Chris Berry Trio) Featuring Steve Kimock.
Music first touched the Grammy award winning Chris Berry as a teen living in the heart of Zimbabwe where he carefully learned the indigenous rhythms of Africa on the sacred Mbira (African Thumb Piano). His ability to speak out against the tyranny of the Zimbabwean regime through the art of music won him overnight success across the country and in the World Music market, bringing his music around the globe. Since then, he has performed on the stages of the 2000 Olympics, the Sydney Opera house and the nations largest festivals across the United States with his project Panjea. 2010 finds the “Afropop Superstar” (SF Chronicle) a multi-instrumentalist with grace on Mbira, the hand drum, as well as a gifted singer-songwriter whose voice is often compared to Sting.
Together with CB3, Berry combines his unique intercultural perspective with the nations highest caliber of musicians, each known for their genre bending talent, for an intimate musical experience. The project features “Guitar Monk” Steve Kimock who was recently hailed on CNN.com as an “unknown legend,” as well as Aaron Johnston (drums) & Jesse Murphy (bass) from the Grammy award nominated Brazilian Girls.
Collectively, CB-3 (Chris Berry Trio) Featuring Steve Kimock has the ability to bring together three decades of music history tightly fitted into one anthology adorned with cutting-edge improvisational guitar, hip-hop and elements of modern electronica. Show goers can expect both a dance ready experience as well as an intimate view into music provoked by both the past and present.
"This sh-t is f-ckin crazy!" – Eminem
"Bombastic Beats, Phat Brass and Revolutionary lyrics. If you don't dance you will." - L.A. Times
Jazz drum giant Max Roach, calls them "totally exhilarating."
African sensation Youssou N'Dour - "Watch out for them."
And legendary entertainer Harry Belafonte says "(They're) carrying the torch for tomorrow."
"Chris Berry picked up where Paul Simon left off," says Michael Kang, violinist and mandolin-player for The String Cheese Incident. "Chris' music glides across all racial and ethnic lines making everyone feel at home within the music. The conscious lyrics are a road map for humanity and Chris is one of the few people able to carry this message to a wide audience."
Berry's story "sounds like it was written by a Hollywood script writer" (Steve Leggett, All Music Guide). Maybe that is because it is hard to believe that a California White boy moved to Africa, became a spirit caller, and went on to sell over a million records in Southern Africa, where he still sells out stadiums. Now he is positioned to do the same in America.
After over a decade living in Africa, Berry has now settled back in America following the edict given to him by African ancestor spirits to make a difference here, launching a slew of new activities to convey his message of justice and peace. His renewed American mission launches when Chris Berry and his band Panjea release Dancemakers, on Wrasse Records on April 18, 2006. Panjea's Inclusion of String Cheese's Michael Kang for new collaborations, has created quite a buzz in the World Music and Jamband scene fusing the two genres and exposing hundreds of thousands of listeners to a fresh new sound. They have recorded a new album "Find A Way" possibly their best and it will be released late 2009!!
Berry's fascination of Zimbabwean mbira (thumb piano) music eventually lured him to Harare, where he settled and studied under legendary mbira master Monderek Muchena for ten years. During that time, Berry put together his band Panjea, whose pioneering blend of indigenous music, dance hall, and hip-hop earned platinum album sales throughout Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and beyond.
While studying in Zimbabwe, Berry became one of the first Westerners to be accepted among the elder mbira masters as one of their own. "I played for a lot of ceremonies where people would become possessed," said Berry. "Some of the old ancestors who came back spoke to me through these people: 'What are you doing here? There are lots of misguided people, lost and confused people, in your country. They're killing each other there. It's time for you to take what you've learned and bring it to your own country because they need it more than we need it here. That's your job. You're the bridge maker.'" And so back on his native soil we find him today, preaching an uplifting transcontinental message of hope to contagious, dance beats based in the Zimbabwean mbira and sacred Congolese ngoma drum rhythms. Berry has been deemed a master of both mbira and ngoma drum, earning the title of gwenyambira ("one whose music calls the spirits"), a distinction reserved only for those who have achieved the highest fusion of the technical and the magical in music from the elder with whom he lived and studied during his years abroad.
Michael Kang grew up as a true world citizen. Born in Seoul, South Korea, Michael or Hyung Joon (his given Korean name) criss crossed the globe, living in 6 different countries before settling into life in the United States. Arriving in the bay area in his teens, Michael was drawn to the sounds of San Francisco through the musical offerings of bands such as the Grateful Dead and Santana. During this time, Michael was also developing his skills as a violinist, an instrument he had picked up along the way. As a member of the Tamalpais High Orchestra and various youth orchestras in Marin County, Kang got his first taste of performing in large ensembles.
Eventually, Michael ended up at UC Berkeley where his love for outdoor activities like skiing and climbing fueled his appetite for environmental studies. His love for wide open spaces also led to numerous visits to Alaska, where Michael studied natural history and also rekindled his interest in the fiddle and mandolin. Figuring it was a great way to get into bars without a valid id, Michael got his first taste of playing club gigs with local musicians.
Playing music by night and skiing during the day was the norm when Kang moved to Colorado in 1992. An epic winter of powder ensued as well as the first apres ski gigs with his eventual musical compadres, The String Cheese Incident. Sixteen years and some 1500 shows later, Michael Kang and SCI has developed a distinct niche for themselves in the music industry. Having performed at many of the most renowned venues and festivals worldwide, Kang has become one of the few musicians to have cultivated his sound using an electric octave mandolin and violin as SCI developed their eclectic blend of bluegrass, rock, jazz, african and latin world fusion.
A chance meeting with Chris Berry in an airport in 2005 eventually led to subsequent journeys to Africa to get a first hand taste of African musical traditions. Having travelled and performed with Chris in South Africa, Mozambique, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Mali and Senegal, the two developed an intimate musical rapport that has led to Michael becoming a member of Panjea in 2007.
Michael has most recently expanded his horizons into global environmental advocacy through his work with Our Future Now, a group he co-founded in 2006. Seeing that the world's greatest challenges also provide room for equally grand solutions, Michael has dedicated himself to being a part of the solution whether it be through music, community development or environmental advocacy.
Panjea includes Chris Berry, Michael Kang of the String Cheese Incident, Danny Sears, Patrice Blanchard, Zivanai Masango, Abu.
Berry and Panjea bring it all home to America with their high-energy mix. But the root is Africa: "Africa is the source for almost all the popular music of the world," Berry insists. "You can hear it in blues, rock & roll, funk, hip-hop, and jazz. I've just found a more direct line to the source. I've got the medicine, and it's pure and strong."
Panjea has grown from a band to a full-fledged non-profit institution: the Panjea Foundation for Cultural Education. "Panjea believes that through the sharing of ideas and open cultural exchanges the world can once again become a new kind of "Pangaea", united not by its physically joined continents but by its people." Berry, along with his family, and band all join in the foundation's activities, which include cultural tours to Africa, drum and dance classes, camps and workshops, and special performances, including an appearance at the 2000 Olympics.
“I walked out of the house as a teenager and said, ‘I’m just gonna play my guitar’” recalls Steve Kimock. “Literally, I didn’t care if I had a place to live or if I was in the street or if I had anything to eat, I just played.”
Almost forty-years later, turns out not much has changed. Sure, now a loving husband and proud father, responsibility has reared its beautiful head, but Kimock still just wants to play his guitar (electric, acoustic, lap and pedal steel), and he does so with the same youthful passion, chasing the muse wherever she may lead him. In fact, when Kimock reflects on his life path, he admits, “I think the primary thing might be the complete lack of goal orientation.”
It was never about being a rock star or getting rich, true artists don’t operate that way. For a man like Kimock, success is not based on tangible objects, awards or record sales; success is about how you live, the people you touch and remaining true to yourself. Applying these practices in the shallow waters of the music world is no easy task, but it’s the artists who achieve this that pull off the rare trick of developing a unique voice in the crowded conversation. For Kimock, it’s all about how he approaches the craft: “A lot of my life was spent with no other focus than having whatever I felt was a properly authentic relationship with the guitar.”
Born in 1955, Kimock’s fortuitous relationship with music began as a child. Growing up in Bethlehem, PA, when he was around 10 or 12 he remembers hanging out frequently at his Aunt Dottie’s house. She was a folk singer with lots of stringed things and percussive objects lying around and Steve just loved going to play at Dottie’s. Around this time Steve’s cousin, Kenny Siftar, returned from military service over seas and was staying at Kimock’s grandmother’s house. Originally from Tulsa, OK, Kenny taught Steve his first rock & roll licks on a beautiful gold top Les Paul. It wasn’t long until Steve got his own guitar. A cheap old ten dollar acoustic would change his life forever.
“Here’s the scary part” smiles Kimock, “that guitar had a trapeze style tail piece and a floating bridge so you could move the bridge back and forth. So this is my first guitar and of course the bridge will be in the wrong place because it’s floating and I don’t know how to tune it, so it’s just gonna be impossible to play – and it was. So what I did mostly was, I just tuned it until it sounded pretty when I strummed across it and then hit the strings and slid the trapeze tail piece back and forth. And that’s kinda still exactly what I’m doing today, mostly playing steel. So I’ve been playing with that same thing, kind of guitar malfunction, since the very first day.”
Kimock’s first major band, The Goodman Brothers, moved from Pennsylvania to northern California’s Bay Area in the mid-70s. As he began to embed himself in the music scene, playing not only with The Goodman Brothers but also with the late legendary flautist and saxophonist Martin Fierro in The Underdogs, Kimock began to cross paths with the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia. Sharing an affinity for certain basic sonic preferences on the guitar and a love of improvisation would lead to considerable comparisons between these two artists. But where Garcia came deep from within American roots and traditional Appalachian mountain music, Kimock is far more cross-continental, taking in North Indian classical, Middle Eastern, Caribbean and African flavors. In addition to technical ability and tone, what Kimock and Garcia really shared was an ability to take disparate influences and run them through deft fingers playing with an adventurous jazz mentality and the intensity of rock & roll. As each was carving out their own unique space, Garcia recognized this in Kimock and made the now-famous statement that Kimock was his “favorite unknown guitar player.”
The Grateful Dead connection would continue when in 1979 Kimock joined Dead-alumni Keith and Donna Jean Godchaux’s Heart of Gold Band which would end abruptly in 1980 following Keith Godchaux’s tragic death in an automobile accident.
In 1984, Kimock and Heart of Gold drummer Greg Anton formed Zero. The instrumental outfit included Underdogs bandmate Martin Fierro, keyboardist Pete Sears (who was eventually replaced by Chip Roland), bassist Bobby Vega, and former Quicksilver Messenger Service guitarist, the late John Cipollina. It was during the more than two decades with Zero that Kimock would define his fluid style of melodious improvisation. Already one of the marquee Bay Area bands and architects of the infant jam band genre, Zero began working with Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter and added vocalist Judge Murphy in 1992 before going on an extended hiatus in the late-90s. In 2006, Zero would reunite and tour until Fierro’s death in March of 2008. During their time together, Zero released a number of albums including 1987’s debut Here Goes Nothin’, 1990’s Nothin’ Goes Here, 1991’s live effort Live: Go Hear Nothin’, as well as their 1994 major label debut, the live document Chance in a Million, and 1997’s self-titled studio album.
Rarely able to find creative satisfaction in just one band, Kimock always seems to be dangling his toes in multiple projects. Throughout the years he’s been a part of Bob Weir’s Kingfish as well as Weir’s RatDog (filling in for ill guitarist Mark Karan in 2007), Jerry Joseph’s Little Women, The Rhythm Devils featuring Grateful Dead drummers Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann, The Everyone Orchestra, the post-String Cheese Incident electronica band Praang, he’s recorded and toured with Bruce Hornsby and he’s worked extensively with Merl Saunders to name but a few. He’s also been critical in helping to carry on Garcia’s message through tours in the post-Dead ensembles The Other Ones and a short stint with Phil Lesh & Friends. In fact, Kimock has shared the stage with such a long list of luminaries that it would be impossible to include everyone, but highlights include: Steve Winwood, Peter Frampton, Little Feat, Bonnie Raitt, Buddy Miles, Buddy Cage, Trey Anastasio, Mike Gordon, Page McConnell, Jon Fishman, Jack Cassidy, Jorma Kaukonen, Vassar Clements, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Joe Satriani, Baaba Maal, Angélique Kidjo, Stephen Marley, Grant Green Jr., Elvin Bishop, Derek Trucks, Warren Haynes, The Allman Brothers, George Porter Jr., Ivan Neville, Keller Williams, Grace Potter, Grace Slick, Papa John Creach, Todd Rundgren, Norton Buffalo, Amos Garrett, Terry Haggerty, Hadi Al Sadoon, Jesse Colin Young, Stephen Perkins, Vince Welnick, John Kahn, Nicky Hopkins, Jeff Pevar, Freddie Roulette, Sonny Landreth and many more.
All of these experiences have helped shape Steve Kimock’s identity, but it’s naturally the work in his own bands that will define him. While still performing with Zero, Kimock began to explore new terrain with the looser, blusier Steve Kimock & Friends and the short-lived but highly touted post-Zero group KVHW, featuring Kimock, Zero bandmate Vega, drummer Alan Hertz and former Frank Zappa vocalist Ray White.
Around the turn of the century, Kimock’s next major move came in the formation of the Steve Kimock Band with Bobby Vega. Shuffling through various configurations and eventually splitting with Vega, SKB found its core when Grammy Award-winning drummer Rodney Holmes joined in 2000. In 2002 SKB released the double live album East Meets West. Culled from shows in San Francisco and Japan, the lineup featured Kimock and Holmes with bassist Alphonso Johnson and rhythm guitarist Mitch Stein. In 2005 SKB followed up with the well-received studio album, Eudemonic featuring the same players. The next few years found the Steve Kimock Band anchored by Kimock and Holmes with a slew of talent flowing through the lineup including keyboardists Robert Walter (20th Congress, Greyboy Allstars) and Jim Kost, and bassists Reed Mathis (Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, Tea Leaf Green), Arne Livingston (Living Daylights) and Richard Hammond.
All of this brings us to the latest development for Steve Kimock: Crazy Engine. After several years of spreading himself over a plethora of projects Kimock felt the itch to get back into a real band; something he could write for and develop. Not only was it simply time for Kimock to lead a new group, 2009 America warranted a certain type of band. “The country is all screwed up and I have a theory about how you get through that, you party. That’s how you get through tough times, you have a good time. You show up and you put on a happy face and you get a bunch of people together and you just slam it down” says Kimock. “So that’s what I saw, I looked at the economy and the war and the debt and I was like, ‘Man, I’d like to have a band, but this is obviously not the time for some shoegazing.’ There’s not much introspection here and this would be the worst possible time to disengage and hide in the house. It’s time to get out and make it happen.”
And that’s exactly what he’s doing with his brand new, up-beat, gospel influenced, soul-rock band Steve Kimock Crazy Engine. Adding immensely to Steve’s excitement is that he’s doing this with his son John Morgan Kimock behind the drums. “There’s a chemistry there that’s unlike anything else” beams Kimock. “He’s played with me a bunch in the last couple years in different projects, and I just love playing with him, nothing has ever made me as happy as my first born son being that into music; because he loves it and I love him and it’s just the coolest thing to get to play with him.”
Joining the Kimocks are longtime creative foil and one time Jerry Garcia Band Hammond B3 hero Melvin Seals and Trevor Exter who was plucked out of the indie music scene to fill the role of bass.
If you don’t really know Steve Kimock’s music, if you just read all the band names and song credits, if you simply look at all the shows and statistical data it would appear that he’s spent his life building this sound and constructing his career, but that’s not how it happened. “Whatever it is that I am, as recognizable as a guitarist, it hasn’t been built up to, it’s been whittled down from” explains Kimock. “You just pull it apart piece-by-piece until all that’s left is stuff that can’t fall off.”
There is no separation between Steve Kimock “The Man” and Steve Kimock “The Guitar Player.” One is a direct reflection of the other. It’s not about finding the notes for Kimock, they live in him, around him – they are him. “I use the practice of the guitar as a meditation in a very literal way” reflect Kimock. “I literally use it to stop my mind.” It’s not so much about creating, the trick is clearing the mind long enough to allow the music to come forward unhindered. That’s why Kimock’s legendary guitar jams move as flawlessly as they do, and that’s why Relix magazine dubbed him “The Guitar Monk.”
Philosophically, music is an experience for Kimock; a living thing. Although he enjoys the technical aspects of the gear and making albums in the studio, it’s on stage, navigating through epic, marathon live shows that he’s built his kingdom. Kimock is gifted, physically capable of competing with any guitarist alive, but it’s his ability to carry listeners through emotional peaks and valleys that makes him one of the greats.
Although there are clearly many chapters left to write, when Kimock looks back over his storied career he laughs at the idea of a legacy. His motives have remained crystal clear in a filthy industry, he’s never sought riches and fame, it’s always been about the music and pushing it forward. “When I’m done, when my plane goes down in a cornfield or I seize up in the middle of some slow blues song, whenever, however I’m out of here, all I want there to be is maybe a little bit more good guitar music in the world” says Kimock. “And if you think about it, the way music is transmitted down the generations, from player to player, there’s this body of knowledge based on these aesthetic decisions and based on our shared humanity and reaction and response to sound, it’s unbroken since the very first sustained pitch, however far back that goes – 50,000 years or something. From person to person, this thing just gets carried forward. It’s the coolest thing we’ve got, we’ve carried it the entire time, cooler than any language and bigger than any of the sciences, it’s this huge human endeavor that just keeps on going in this very natural way. And if somebody tosses you that ball when you’re little and you carry it to the edge and then you pass it, then you’re part of this unbroken line all the way back, bringing this experience forward. If there’s a legacy thing, that’s it in a nut shell: I did my bit to carry my part as far as I could.”