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The Smoking Flowers: Burning Their Own Trail

Shea Corrigan

In many ways, the story of Kim and Scott Collins of The Smoking Flowers reads like a great fictional love story: love at first sight, musical partnership, Kim's battle with breast cancer, and her recovery using completely natural methods. Their June performance at the Circle-A Café was their second in Milwaukee, a market which they say has always been kind to them. The Collins called in to WUWM@Nite’s Rachel Owens to talk about their musical aspirations and their new album 2 Guns.

The Smoking Flowers’ music spans multiple genres; country, blues, and rock. Their acoustic and melodic sound is often interwoven with elements of punk rock and Southern Gothic folk. Both Kim and Scott are multi-instrumentalists. During one set Kim has been known to play the drums, accordion, acoustic guitar, mandolin, tambourine, harmonica, and sing vocals. Scott also sings while playing harmonica, and both acoustic and electric guitar. Their diverse musical talents have certainly expanded their song writing possibilities.

“In the studio it’s limitless. We spend all our energy on writing songs and the vocal arrangements and then when it comes to presentation we figure out what best suits the vibe, whether the song needs to rock or be a beautiful acoustic oriented song,” Scott says. “Fortunately Kim is someone who can play a dozen different things.”   

The duo met in 1998 during a chance encounter in Nashville, Tennessee’s 12th & Porter music venue. After one date, Scott packed his things in New York City and moved down South to be with Kim, the girl he thought was “the one.” Five months later they were engaged and five months after that they were married. After fifteen years their marriage stays just as strong as they tour the US in their vintage V40 Volvo.  

“I think I told her that I was supposed to know her in some capacity,” says Scott, “It was like meeting an old friend that I had never met in my entire life.”   

The Smoking Flowers’ latest album 2 Guns was originally set to be released in 2012. But after Kim was diagnosed with breast cancer, the duo postponed their musical aspirations to focus on Kim’s treatment. After years of living a health-conscious life, Kim’s diagnosis came as a complete shock to her and her husband. Kim chose a completely holistic approach to fight the cancer; no chemotherapy, hormones, or physical therapy.

“I felt strongly about the last 20 years of my life living holistically,” says Kim. “Why would all of a sudden when I am challenged to save my life would I go against that belief system. Now I feel better than I ever have at 44.”

After getting calls and emails about her treatment decision, she decided to describe her battle with cancer in a blog,The Warrior and the Wishbone. The blog has now become a resource for those interested in non-Western, holistic medical cancer treatments.

Some songs on their album 2 Guns, especially their first single Something I Said, become a foreshadowing experience for the couple.

“I remember the first time we heard that song after my diagnosis, it took on a whole new meaning and experience,” says Kim. “I literally just broke down and cried after hearing that song.”

Videos mentioned in the interview:


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Rachel is WUWM's Morning Edition host.