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Local Music Mondays is a weekly segment produced by WUKY's DeBraun Thomas. Check here for archived episodes, extended interviews, and extras.

Local Music Monday: Kim Smith Of Bear Medicine

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This week Debraun profiles Kim Smith of Bear Medicine.

Kim Smith was born in Iowa and moved to Lexington when she turned 13. Smith comes from a family full of musicians as her father played Trumpet and her mother was an orchestra director. Smith says one of the things that sparked her passion as a musician came from growing up in church.

“Didn’t do too much till about High School, then led the praise band and all of that kind of stuff as well, so yeah, that was definitely part of, at least the part of the expression, you know, so I could have some sort of platform to actually perform, different than just a band or the orchestra, something that was a little more personal to me.”

After going to school in Australia, Smith moved back to Lexington and married her husband Chris who is also a local musician. Together they started the band prognosticator and eventually met local musician Josh Wright. After meeting Wright she joined the band Bear Medicine. In the group, she plays both flute and piano. Smith says while she was the last to join the band, she had been there from the very beginning.

“He would come over and show us the new songs and when him and Seth first started playing together we were around and just loved it, I was a big fan initially, I thought it was super great what they were doing and just loved the sound, I say I kinda weaseled my way in, I don’t know if they would agree, but I just, Rigor Mortis Dear was the first song I played with them and I was like ‘I think a flute part would go really really well here’ so I got my flute out and I figured out a line, sat down with Josh one day and played it for him with a recording they had of the song and he just sat there and cried and loved it and that was pretty much it and was like ‘yeah let’s do this.’”

In 2014 Bear Medicine released their debut album The Moon Has Been All My Life. The album was produced by Otto Helmuth here in Lexington. When I asked her about the difference between recording and playing live, Smith said the difference for her is not just her approach the songs, but the reception of the audience.

“You know, you’re right, if you are on stage and there’s a couple of songs now, like Hymn for Heathens, there’s a part where I do a little piano solo and it’s like, I can just go crazy if I want to, I’m not gonna do that in a recording, but I think that’s the great thing about a record versus live music, that’s why you go see live music, you go see live music so you can see people experiment with it and do something different and have fun with it and you listen to a recording because somebody’s put a lot of time and a lot of thought into how they want you to sit down and listen to it.”

Kim Smith performs with Bear Medicine, Prognosticator and the Rosemont Trio. More information about Smith and her projects can be found here.

DeBraun Thomas fell in love with radio at a young age but only had interest in working in radio after learning Funk musician Sly Stone got his start in radio. A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, Thomas moved to Lexington in 2009 to attend the University of Kentucky and pursue a career in radio. Thomas joined WRFL in 2009 and through the UK school of Journalism, Thomas had 2 features air on WUKY. In October of 2012, Thomas began interning at WUKY and produced the Unghosting of Medgar Evers. In August of 2013 Thomas became a staff member at WUKY and since that time, Thomas regularly produces the weekly segment Local Music Mondays which highlights local musicians in Lexington. Thomas hosts the Crunkadelic Funk Show which airs Saturday nights at 9pm and also produced a documentary on the 50th anniversary of the March on Frankfort. In addition to producing and hosting a radio show, Thomas also explores his other passion as a musician in Lexington.
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