In the early morning of April 19 2021 the world lost a kind, gentle and talented soul. David Kim Russell left this world to meet his maker and his passing will be grieved by many.
Kim was predeceased by his father David smith Russell in 1972. Kim leaves behind his son Jason, granddaughter Kamila, mother Irene, sister Dawn and her husband Tom, brother Dale and his wife Beverley, brother Bob and his wife Jane, as well as nieces Shannon, Amanda, Rebecca, Lisa, Jennifer, Darla, nephew Mike and their families.
Kim grew up in Portage La Prairie and was known as a quiet unassuming person. He was rarely out of the company of his sister Dawn and they remained very close throughout his life. One of Kim’s loves in his pre teen and early teen years was his horse Koal and he was often out riding in the woods along with other family members. Kim was most at home in nature and had a love of photography as well as being an avid fly fisherman who studied and perfected the art of fly-tying. He would always know whatto supply his rookie older brothers with on their excursions to their cabin in the Duck Mountains. This was one of Kim’s favourite places in the world and he would go every chance he got. Jason or the brothers would join whenever possible.
Kim followed his older brothers into the music business and became an in demand session player as well as a well travelled and experienced stage musician. He played in several bands and situations with his brothers as well.
Kim was with out a doubt a musician’s musician and the following is a remembrance of Kim from one his closest and most enduring musical brothers from another mother Laurie MacKenzie.
I met Kim nearly 47 years ago, in the summer of 1974. He’d come to my hometown of Dauphin to play a gig, and our mutual pal, Denis Petrowski, had given me the heads-up. I was 20 years old. Kim was my senior by a mere 5 months, yet he was already an established professional bassist in Winnipeg, and had been so for a long time, most notably playing in Bootleg.
I moved to Winnipeg that fall, and by the time the nice weather hit in 1975 I was in my first real band ...with Kim, Denis and Kim’s brother, Bob. Our friendships have not only lasted, they've grown over our lifetimes, and of course, our time working on the band cemented a very close relationship between myself and Kim.
At the time, Kim was sharing a basement apartment with his sister, Dawn. It was on Broadway …where Bombolini restaurant eventually took up residence. I lived close by - a short block from Memorial Park, on Colony St. We used to walk to Bob’s with our guitars for rehearsal …and Bob lived across Portage Avenue - from Polo Park! …we stayed skinny in those days. Being musicians without means, Kim and I tried to make up for it by religiously attending the $2 Indian buffet at the Maharaja on Sherbrook at Broadway. The buffet occurred twice a week - the price was right and we ate ’til we were in pain. We knew we’d be walking it off.
Even in those early days, Kim was a musical force to be reckoned with. This is of no detriment to the musical prowess of Denis and Bob, because I can attest to their skills and experience and readily admit to my being the weak link in that regard, but Kim’s prodigious ability at that early time already matched his fire and passion for music. It especially came out in his solos ...he was miles ahead of us …and he never lorded it over anyone.
Selfishly, I was unhappy when he decided to go to Edmonton to attend music courses at Grant MacEwan college (plus, I thought he was so good that he didn’t need to) ...but he worked hard there and returned after graduating. Not long after that we formed another band with Bob and Kathy Brown (Kiva). No matter what happened in our lives or how busy we got, our friendship remained unwavering - the quality of our time together always trumped any lack of quantity - and we always eventually gravitated together into some musical endeavour as well.
In ’79/’80 when I was in an acoustic duo with Gord Cardno, Kim would play with us on weekend afternoons in Old Market Square. When I went into Roade Studios to record some original demos around that time, Kim was on board. He played with me in The Bandits, the group that established me on the local music scene. He played with me and Denis for the inaugural gig of The Chisholm Trio, and also on the CD we were recording when Covid shut everything down. He was the bassist in Standard Transmission, the last new group I formed with him and Bill Spornitz. In fact, just prior to the second shutdown last fall, Kim recorded with me on a couple of originals for Standard Transmission. It turned out to be his final gig. I find that symmetry to be both spiritually meaningful and painfully heartbreaking.
The list of all the other pick-up gigs, bands, tours and sessions we shared through the years is huge - gigs with his brother Dale, Lawrence Stephens, Rob Holden, Diana Desjardins, etc, etc, etc. A great deal of them were gigs he'd secured and lobbied for my involvement. Apart from all of the musical experience we shared, there were the multitudes of gigs and recordings he did with various notable members of Winnipeg's musical royalty - Greg Leskiw, Rick Neufeld, Zdenka …and so much more. It boggles the mind to try and recall everything.
Through the years we shared a lot of laughs and beautiful memories. He had joy in his life, but I also witnessed him go through more undeserved heartache and hard times than anyone should have to endure. We leaned on each other when we needed to, but an amazing thing about Kim is this: he unfailingly maintained such grace in his dealings with others, even as he was going through these trials and hardships. Maybe his faith helped. Speaking of his faith, I have to say... I love how he worked his sense of humour into it. Allow me to paraphrase the set-up of something he said, and then deliver his punchline verbatim: “Regardless of religion, every person should be treated with dignity and respect, be he Hebrew or be he B’hai.” Say it aloud - it's even funnier. Go ahead… I’ll wait.
The bottom line is: I knew Kim to be kind, gentle, thoughtful and modest - a sweet soul and a great player. He wasn’t just a friend, he was a brother …I love him and I pray he’s at peace.
A private graveside service has taken place at Hillside Cemetery. To view a tribute video of Kim Russell please click on link below.
A tree will be planted in memory and cared for by McKenzies Portage Funeral Chapel. www.mckenziesportagefuneralchapel.com
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