Scene&Heard: Kim Smith

The show had already begun to exceed expectations when I was asked to leave my shoes at the door.  The Source on High is a peaceful space, used for yoga and meditation. In a side room: sensory deprivation tanks invite one’s restless soul.  Punched-tin lights hang from the ceiling and beneath their glow we settle in on pillows and woven blankets. 

Before us: a promising array of instruments, silently awaiting the Lexington band, Frigid Kitty.

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They do not remain silent for long. It’s early on a Sunday evening in April.  This is not your typical night of live music at a bar; not at all.  Every month, the fantastic diversity of music available in this city excites me, whether at a festival, an established venue, someone’s living room, or a yoga space, Lexington provides.  The Source on High is just such a promising space.

Frigid Kitty takes the stage, with Kim Smith at its center.  She introduces her bandmates, a new and different arrangement of Frigid Kitty for this special evening.  Along with Kim on keys, flute and guitar are her husband Chris Smith playing bass and guitar, Sam McWilliams on guitar and vocals, and guest Garret Spear playing percussion and flute.

While the first song emphasizes Kim’s keyboard skills, the immediate impression is of a beautiful layering of instruments. It’s a notable characteristic found throughout this collection of songs. Smith’s keys are joined by McWilliam’s gentle guitar picking, the bass carries the foundation while the cajon drumming provides cadence and momentum.  Throughout the set, each musician changes instruments at least once, showing adept musical versatility.  At one point we’re treated to a flute duet with between Kim and Garret.

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The music Frigid Kitty performs on this night is quite ethereal, and fitting in this unique space.  As the springtime sun begins to set, the lights provide a subtle glow as the room becomes enclosed in a softening darkness.  The orchestral arrangements of the instruments drift and mingle like an impressionistic painting.  The lyrics, a collaborative effort from Chris, Kim and Sam, are conversational, carried easily along by the arrangements.

The set ends with Kim back on lead vocals and guitar, singing “Keep it to Yourself”, a Smith original with a cute, flirty, old-time sound that brings the set to a close with a light, easy vibe.

Cara chatted with Kim about the show and what made it special…

The effect of this marriage of music and performance space is surreal.  The Frigid Kitty set is followed by the twelve string dexterity of Sarah Louise, and finally the spiritual creativity of Everyone Lives, Everyone Wins.

In retrospect, magic happened that night at The Source, and beauty was created.  Lexington never fails to deliver to those who seek such in the various spaces around town.

Kim Smith has played in many of these spaces.  Her life has been a long journey of music, even when she set such pursuits aside to explore academia and travel. The conversation moved beyond the immediate…

Raised by accomplished musicians, her father a band director, her mother an orchestra and chorale director with her own piano studio, Smith is a musician by definition.  She moves effortlessly between piano, flute, guitar, and cello, having played piano and cello as a child. She sings and plays in a growing collection of bands, including her own Frigid Kitty. 

Formerly the keyboard, flute player and vocalist in the now-defunct Bear Medicine, in the last year Smith has immersed herself in numerous musical projects around town.  Besides Frigid Kitty, Smith is in Big Fresh (click to listen to the new song, Paralyzed.) She fills us in on the band’s latest project…

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Desperate Spirits- LR: John Ferguson, Trevor Tremaine, Rob Theakston, Kim Smith

She also is a member of ATTEMPT.  Sharing several members, these two bands host a wealth of musicians who all contribute diverse talents.  Trevor Tremaine, John Ferguson, David Farris, Nick Coleman, Dave Cobb and Ashley Smith all join Kim Smith in ATTEMPT, while Big Fresh consists of John Ferguson, Ben Fulton, Ben Phelan, David Farris, Nick Coleman, Faith Diamond, Brian Connors Manke, Bryan Gore and Matthew Clarke.  With some crossover in members, both groups coexist and will be heading out on a large, eleven person tour this June to include performing with Lexington’s beloved Matt Duncan and his band in NYC. 

Here’s more on the tour…

Big Fresh and ATTEMPT are both represented by Desperate Spirits, a label started by Kim Smith along with John Ferguson, Trevor Tremaine and Rob Theakston.  The label is releasing several EP’s this year for both bands as well as Italian Beaches. 

In addition, Smith also keeps in touch with her classical roots as a member of The Rosemont Trio.

Kim Smith is a force to not be contained, and she represents the Lexington music scene with adept ease.  With her hands in numerous projects that help foster and collaborate with so many other local musicians, she is a pivotal aspect of the strength of our city’s live music scene.  With her bands, the label she has helped start to help other local musicians get their music out into the world, the lessons she teaches weekly to children and adults seeking more music in their lives, as well as side projects such as the local all-female LP she is organizing to raise money for Planned Parenthood, Kim is one of those women who just keeps on persisting, and doing Lexington proud.

What’s next?

You can catch Kim Smith with Big Fresh at Al’s Bar Block Party on April 29th, and ATTEMPT will be playing the Tahlsound Music Festival on Southland Drive in May. 

Frigid Kitty hopes to be in the studio this year working on their first CD. 

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