Southland Blues-Local Spotlight

Kimberly Allison is an up and coming musician and guitarist, I`ll tell you. And very smart, a U.S.C. Music school graduate with honors thank you, and very talented. I love the jazzy style and the big effort, and the obviously clean technical guitar riffs. She plays everything from straight-ahead jazz to rock , but obviously loves playing, whether it be jazz-blues, traditional or blues-rock.

Kimberly, or "KC" to her friends, was born in Kansas, heart of the country. Her father worked in manufacturing and her mother was a school teacher. No one else in the family played a musical instrument but she picked up the flute at age 10 and bought a "funky acoustic guitar with babysitting money," she told me, at age 13. She taught herself by listening to records and got her first gig at 16. She picked up what she could in those early years at jams and playing with different groups.

At age 19, Kimberly was a finalist in the Kansas City Blues Society Talent Search. The next year she decided to move to Hollywood to attend Musicians Institute (GIT). In LA she joined a local band, The Freeze, and hosted the jam at the Hillside in Signal Hill for almost two years. She met Joe Houston and played around town with Joe, learning more all the time. When she graduated from GIT, the Freeze released a CD but the band broke up shortly after and Kimberly stared taking commercial music classes at Long Beach City College before finally moving on to U.S.C. on a merit scholarship where she concentrated on Jazz guitar. "This was a heavy 'woodshedding` period," she told me. At U.S.C. , she studied with revered jazz guitarist Joe Diorio and graduated in 1996 with honors. She told me "I think I was the first person in school history, to play Albert Collins during my senior recital."

After U.S.C., Kimberly returned to playing with Joe Houston. She toured the Western US and Canada with Joe and, on the side began working with an all-female blues band called Queen Voodoo with Jill Sharpe (vocals), 16 year old Taryn Donath (boogie-woogie keys like you cannot imagine), Sweet Baby J`ai (vocals) and Leslie Baker (bassist with Floyd Dixon). In 1998, Kimberly was nominated in the "outstanding guitarist" category for the LA Music Awards. During this time Kimberly spent about two years with Zola Moon before moving on.

At the end of 1999, Kimberly met up with BJ Sharp at the Covina Bluesapalooza. They had originally met at the Classroom a couple of years earlier rehearsing for the Women in Blues for Children with Aids benefit, probably the biggest show in the history of the Classroom. BJ told Kimberly that her all-female band , Some Like it Hot, really needed her and of course she jumped in. The band was twelve pieces and featured the incomparable Francesca Capassso, BJ Sharp, Terri Brinegar (Terri and the T-Bones), Alicia Morgan and Lynne Davis from the Scarlets, and Linda Moss on harmonica. In fact the group played at Harvelles and September 14.

Last year, Kimberly released her CD, Old, New Borrowed and Blues. The CD features Mr. Blues, Morris Beeks, on Keyboards and vocal, and two bassist, Ron Battle on electric and Gerry Easley on acoustic. She uses drummer Mike Lopez formerly with Guitar Shorty, harp player James Murphy and a horn section comprised of Phil Norris and Jennifer Hall on tenor and baritone saxes. Kimberly did the horn arrangements, engineering, and the artwork, herself. The CD is excellent. It has five instrumental originals and five covers and is highly recommended.

After releasing the CD, Kimberly met vocalist Lynne Martinez on a gig in Hesperia with singer Mr. Blues. They have been working together ever since. Lynne`s career began in 1965 singing background with the Soul Sisters Gospel Group and the Bobbie Soxx and Blue Jeans. Lynne has also worked with Lou Rawls, The Mavellettes, Bobby Blue Bland and The Shirelles, to name a few. Lynne is a fine vocalist with a great attitude and, with Kimberly is part of a great show.

Kimberly told me her influences are Albert Collins, Freddy King and Gatemouth Brown in the blues genre and Pat Martino, Wes Montgomery, and Joe Diorio in jazz. When she`s not gigging, she teaches guitar to over 25 regular private students weekly, ages 4 to 60, all styles. When we had lunch the other day, she was on her way to class.

You can see Kimberly and her band every Tuesday at the First Cabin in Arcadia where she Hosts an open blues jam from 9pm-1am.. She actually started the jam at the club next door, until one week she showed up and found another band set up. The owners didn`t bother to tell her so the group went next door to the First Cabin to drown their sorrows to the sounds of Karaoke, when the machine broke. Was this her day or what? The group set up their gear and started playing and officially moved the jam there. Check out Kimberly`s web site at You can see her at he Classroom on October 5 and all over town. Don`t miss her the next time she is near. Say hi if you see me out and about.