For the past few Thursdays, drummer John Morgan Kimock has been leading a band that has been offering up what he calls “a northeastern Pa. musician spin on some funky music with some improvisational, ambient twists.”
The residency at Turkey Hill Brewing Company in Bloomsburg, which wraps up on Jan. 26, has given the Bethlehem native, known for his work with members of Phish and Dead & Company, an opportunity for some steady gigs during a slow time of year and to reconnect with some long-time local collaborators.
“January is a tough time to play anywhere, and I was hoping, just because I was off from my other bands, to put at least one show together,” Kimock said. “Then the Turkey Hill people reached out and it was discussed that we could do a residency, and I thought that was a fun idea to play with some people I hadn’t played with in a while in a setting that’s kind of conducive to having a mellow show.”
Joining Kimock on Thursday nights have been guitarist Justin Mazer and Alex Luquet on upright bass.
“Justin and I have known each other, growing up in the Wyoming Valley and the Lehigh Valley, and we’ve been playing together for 10 years now. Originally we had been in Ryan Montbleau’s band and from there we just recently moved back to the Lehigh Valley and we wanted to play together and do something together.”
The material has been a blend of selections from various corners of the experimental and improvisational landscape.
“I can’t say excatly what we’ll do this week, but we’ve been playing a lot of tunes from the band Medeski Martin & Wood, The Slip, Stuff, we even covered Radiohead one night. We covered Ernest Ranglin, The Meters. It’s open … kind of just like three musicians playing up there and with not much of a game plan.”
Kimock’s trio plays two sets, starting at 7 p.m. and ending at 9 p.m. Admission is free but there is a suggested $10 donation.
Turkey Hill, he said, “has a pretty extensive dining room and a bar, and the musicians kind of gravitate to the bar and play at the bar.
“A lot of the local people from Bethlehem and Wilkes-Barre know about it, so there’s some great music on weeknights, kind of like a little secret that we’re having these shows on Thursdays. It’s a special thing for that bar, it would usually be a bigger setting or a ticket price.
“People can walk in and have dinner and watch the bands play, and it just goes over really well. There’s something about the way the whole staff welcomes the musicians, and it doesn’t always work that way in those-sized rooms — it’s usually 50-50 whether they want to hear music.
“I just moved back to Pennsylvania and it’s kind of a homecoming. It feels very nice and cozy to see all these faces I hadn’t seen in a while. When I lived in Pennsylvania, I used to play with my band XVSK, a drums and cello project, we played Turkey Hill consistently 10 years ago. It’s just nice to be able to come back. It’s a time capsule of the spot, a lot of the same people are working there and running it impeccably and just treat the musicians well. It’s rare.”
Kimock released a solo album, “Hikikomori,” last year.
He’s recently played with Masters of the Telecaster — G.E. Smith (a Stroudsburg native who led the “Saturday Night Live” band for 10 years and played with Bob Dylan), Larry Campbell (Dylan, Levon Helm and Phil Lesh) and Jim Weider (of the latter incarnation of The Band and the current Band-centrict group, The Weight Band). He continues to perform with Oteil and Friends, fronted by Oteil Burbridge of Dead and Company and the Allman Brothers; Kimock will play with the bassist’s group on Jam Cruise next month, his 10th time playing on the cruise. There are also dates on the horizon with Phish bass player Mike Gordon, including Peach Festival in Scranton in June.
Kimock, who often performs with his father, Steve Kimock (Zero, Bob Weir and Ratdog, The Other Ones and various solo projects), co-founded Astrology Days Records in 2020 with Pappy Biondo of Cabinet. AD will release an album by Wilkes-Barre’s Brendan Brisk Band next month, and there are “four or five releases from Brooklyn and Bethlehem bands” in the works, he said, as well as a podcast.
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