radio waves

debraun thomas this week at the break room at pepper. herald-leader staff photo by rich copley.

debraun thomas this week at the break room at pepper. herald-leader staff photo by rich Copley.

Debraun Thomas has made radio his livelihood for much of the seven years he has spent in Lexington. But that didn’t exactly brace him for the experience of hearing his own music on the very station that serves as his employer.

“I’ve been getting some airplay on WUKY, which in itself has been an interesting thing because I do work there,” Thomas said. “So I understand how some folks might look at that as favoritism, but it really isn’t.

“I was sitting in my car when the station played the first song on the album. As the music started, it really hit me what was happening. Over the years I’ve been in radio, I have played thousands upon thousands of songs. But I didn’t know that was going to be what it felt like to have your song played on the radio.”

The album in question is All My Colors Are Blind and the tune Thomas heard played back on WUKY was Bedroom Stranger, a propulsive blast of funk-driven rock ‘n’ roll with Thomas’ meaty vocals leading the charge with waves of churchy organ and horns at his back. The tune – and the entire album, for that matter – also sports a guitar voice as commanding as his singing.

“I think Solomon Burke actually coined this phrase, but I call the music I do rock and soul. It’s rock, it’s roll, but it’s full of everything in between. As an artist of color, I think it’s easy for me, because I play guitar, to get lumped into a blues category. While blues is very much a basis of American music and is the very basis of the music I grew up listening to, that’s not really all it is. Each song on the album characteristically sounds different from one another.”

Though his mother is from Adair County with several other family members hailing from Kentucky, Thomas is a native of the San Francisco Bay area. He moved to Lexington to study journalism at the University of Kentucky (he graduated in 2012) and has been working regularly at WUKY since then in various capacities. There he hosts Local Music Mondays, a weekly series that profiles Lexington artists.

“The Bay Area is filled with a lot of really great music,” Thomas said. “But the one thing I find really special about Lexington, perhaps because it is so centralized, is this really large and concentrated talent pool of musicians. When I moved here, I found there were a lot of people in this particular city that are super, ridiculously talented. That’s just been another thing I love about Lexington. I get to jam with really great people and learn from them.”

Having performed with the local hip hop ensemble A Tribe Called Lex, the soul/R&B cover band Soul Funkin Dangerous and a semi-regular Funkadelic tribute troupe called Freak of the Weekend (“That’s another really fun thing I love about Lexington. There are a lot of people here who love Funkadelic.”), Thomas most frequently appears with a trio that includes bassist Smith Donaldson and drummer Daniel Mohler. All My Colors are Blind, however, also sports help from a who’s-who of local music faves, many of whom are planning on joining Thomas for his album release show this weekend at Cosmic Charlie’s.

“The CD is a culmination of the last five years of my life where I was trying to figure out musically what I wanted to do. I’m still dealing with the fact that I can hold one of these things in my hand. The great thing, though, is each one of these songs still means a lot to me. The fact I can finally share them with everybody is tremendous.”

Debraun Thomas performs at 10 p.m. Oct. 17 at Cosmic Charlie’s, 388 Woodland Ave. Admission is $7. Call (859) 309-9499 or go to www.cosmic-charlies.com.



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