The New York Guitar Festival went off without a hitch this past Thursday night at the Kaufman Center in New York City. In its second week the festival proved to hold its vitality: selling out the Merkin Concert Hall for Steve Kimock and Justin Vernon’s performance of Silent Films/Live Guitars.
This specific performance stood apart from the rest of the three week long festival. Previews speculated that may be because of Justin Vernon and Steve Kimock’s performances. Justin Vernon, as most of contemporary music followers know by now, is the man behind Bon Iver, whose album For Emma Forever Ago garnished respect from the indie-folk world in 2008. Added to that excitement, was Steve Kimock, founder of the San Francisco band Zero and famed for having played alongside some of music’s most recognized guitarists as Bruce Hornsby and The Grateful Dead.
It seemed both performers were offered a +1 for the evening’s scores. Justin Vernon was accompanied by his band mate from Volcano Choir and long time friend Chris Rosenau. Chris Rosenau has been referred to by Justin as his “guitar mentor”, rightfully so; Chris’s participation in his band Collections of Colonies of Bees proves his dubbed title.
Steve Kimock kept it in the family, performing with his son John Morgan Kimock. John played the drums right alongside his father for the whimsical score set to Buster Keaton’s Cops.
The show began shortly after 8 p.m.; John Schaefer (WNYC’s New Sounds presenter) set the tone, approaching the stage in jeans and with a bountiful smile. He announced Steve Kimock’s legacy and scurried through the small talk. Steve Kimock and his youthful son quickly began. The movie scrolled onto the screen; Steve and John scored Buster Keaton’s Cops with fragility and euphemism. The movie, a short one, spanning only 18 minutes, which one would imagine for the musicians is quite a long time. That certainly tops “Free Bird” for time played straight through on one song!
The Kimock’s thanked the audience and then was relieved by Chris Rosenau and Justin Vernon. Rosenau, a guitar perfectionist, made absolutely sure all his guitars were in perfect tune. Even making a verbal note, that he had tuned that same guitar multiple times through the day; it had to be just right. Once the motions came indicating both musicians were in tune and ready to rock — the first movie began, Easy Street.