by Bob Davis ~
Right now I am sitting here eating a bagel w/cream cheese & lox.
There are relatively few things that I enjoy more in life than doing that.
It is probably on my top ten list of things to do.
This past weekend at the 2011 Soul-Patrol Convention, in Philadelphia at
a German-American multi-purpose facility called Cannstaters, originally
built as a haven for a group of people who were outcast from "normal
society," I got a chance to do most of the other 9 things in life that I
enjoy doing all squeezed into a relatively compressed 24 hour time
period, I wanted to throw a birthday party for an entity called
Soul-Patrol that I created 15 years ago by doing much the same thing
that I am doing right now. I created it by sitting in this chair, in the
middle of the night, just writing down my thoughts about music/culture.
I wrote what I wrote without caring if anyone else would ever read what
i wrote or if they were to read it, if they would care about anything
that I would have to say.
Nevertheless I was compelled to put my thoughts down on paper about a
subject matter that I have been obsessed with, since I was about 10
years old. I have been obsessed with the topics of music/culture since I
was a child. However as an adult I have gone beyond a simplistic
obsession with the collection of factual information. I have moved to
the larger obsession of just how all of that factual information just
might be connected to each other and what conclusions that having an
understanding of those connections will lead me to.
What I didn't realize at that time, 15 years ago typing away during the
middle of the night, is that developing such an understanding actually
results in the creation of new data, that was previously unknown. If
that sounds like some sort of an academic research project, it isn't....
That's because the development of this "new information," is something
that "just happens," in ways that are not predictable because it is
wholly dependent on other people who have an intimate knowledge about
these connections between all of these pieces of "factual information."
The intimate knowledge that these other people have about these
"connections" is really the story of their lives, the good, the bad &
the ugly, most of which is not truly meant for public consumption. These
stories are mostly good, however there is always just enough pain
associated with how those seemingly disconnected pieces of information
are actually connected together, that makes it all unfit for public
consumption. That's because the details about the lives of the people
who create the music/culture must exist outside of the "public domain."
It has been truly my great honor & pleasure that the people who know the
truth behind all of the factual information that I could possibly ever
collect about a topic (music/culture) that has been my obsession for
over 40 years have trusted me. They have trusted me with what is
fundamentally their "life story," in order for me to be able to develop
a deeper understanding of the truth of what those connections represent.
Taken separately these facts + the connections between make for a
fantastic story. However, when you begin to put each one of these
stories together, it creates an alternative view of the past, present &
future. One that is quite a bit different than what the "mainstream"
would have you believe. And that is in a nutshell is pretty much what
the Soul-Patrol.com website has evolved into over the past 15 years of
This is all good for me, because it fits in quite nicely because I am a
technologist by trade. More specifically I am a technology analyst,
which means that I specialize in solving problems by analyzing the facts
and then reconstructing those facts in such a manner that they make more
sense, then they did before.
What the Soul-Patrol Convention allows me to to do is to somehow bring
all of this to life in a meaningful way. And while that way may not make
sense to everyone, it makes all of the sense in the world to me. And for
me as the person who is compelled to write about what is my own personal
obsession (music/culture) in the middle of the night, even if nobody
ever reads or cares about what I write, it is a joy for me to watch all
of it unfolds right before my eyes. In real time and in real life.
In planning this 15th birthday party, for something as ubiquitous as the
Soul-Patrol.com website, there were only two things that I was
absolutely certain that I wanted.
1. I knew that I wanted to have as much meaningful conversation as
possible, augmented by as much great musical performances as possible.
2. I knew that I wanted this birthday party to begin in a manner as
simply as the website itself had begun 16 years ago and I knew that I
wanted it to end by making some previously known, factual information
connect together to create new information
So it began with my old High School friend, Michael Burt on the stage,
having the same conversation that we had 40 years ago about our mutual
obsession with the music of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. It ended
14 hours later with a once in a lifetime/you had to be there to see it
live concert performance by Mr. Clarence Burke Jr, to help us to answer
the question that has been asked more times than any other via email to
me by the readers of the Soul-Patrol.com website; "Whatever Happened To
the Five Stairsteps?"
In between those two events was 14 hours of just about the best that
Black Culture has to offer.
---A whole series of Rock, Jazz, Blues, Classic Soul, Neo Soul, Hip Hop
and Doo Wop, once in a lifetime musical performances for the spirit
---A whole series of in depth discussions complete with questions,
complaints and yes even a few potential solutions to some of the key
issues facing a culture, whose survival is very much in doubt as we move
beyond 2011, for the mind.
All of this was provided by the gathering of some very committed and yet
equally obsessed people about music/culture, who much like myself manage
to create excellence/genius out of chaos. It was a meeting of those who
are outcast from society, whose very obsessions cause them not to quite
fit into the norm. In short these are in fact "my kind of people."
The event itself is much like the website. It is overwhelming, it is
confusing and it is a bit disorganized. It is an attempt to bring many
things together under a single umbrella that seem unnatural to be
brought together. However to people who are not only obsessed with the
culture, but who also understand it's "connections/disconnections," it
is in fact an extension of how their thought process work.
A few hours ago I got off the phone with Jamaaladeen Tacuma, the great
jazz bass player. He has been an avid reader of the stuff that I write
in the middle of the night, for the past 15 years and as a result of
that we have become friends, "birds of a feather" you might say.
You may know Jamaaladeen Tacuma as a heavy duty bass player, associated
with the likes of Charles Earland, Reggie Lucas, Ornette Coleman, James
"Blood" Ulmer, and others. However I know him as yet another individual
who is obsessed with all of the same musical/cultural facts and the
"connections/disconnections," between them as I am.
Jamaaladeen lives in Philadelphia and had wanted to attend the 2011
Soul-Patrol Convention, but couldn't because he wouldn't be arriving
home from a European gig till after it ended. So I described for him
over the telephone what had transpired, from the sudden and surprising
presence of Mr. Bernard "Pretty" Purdie in the audience popping up out
of no where and laying some serious knowledge on us during the Miles
Davis Panel to local Philly funk/rock legend Mike Tyler during the
Hendrix panel to the awe inspiring individual performances of artists
that we know like Susaye Greene, Billy Paul, the Chantels the Escorts
and others. to the bone chilling performances of artists that we should
know better like Angel Rissoff, Gary Lee, Quiet Storm, Morris Mills, the
Bleu Lights, TNT, Julie Dexter, Stephanie McKay and others. On top of
that, the camaraderie that people like Darrell McNeill, James Mtume, Bob
Lott, Dyana Williams, Tim Smith, Randall Grass, Garland Jeffries, Giant
Gene Arnold, Warren Haskins, Ric Wilson, Lee Fields, Sandra Trimdacosta,
Jason Miles, Chyp Davis, Bob Pickett, Abe Santiago, Joe Moro, Wayne
Smith, Milton Duggar, Charles McMillan, Clarence Burke Jr, Thomas
Anderson and others have extended to me in my quest to bring some sense
of meaning to my lifelong obsession, by participating in my attempt to
throw a birthday party for something as intangible and as unlikely as a
website that consists mostly of ramblings written by me, at a time when
most normal people are asleep, is nothing short of incredible.
What is less incredible and almost completely expected at this point is
the support for doing this that comes from people like my brother Mike,
Cheryl Russell, Lawrence Perry, Sally Foxen, David Brooks, Mike Hall,
Diane Floyd, Kevin Amos and other folks who put forth their
blood/sweat/tears that enabled this birthday party to even happen at
Some people asked me what will I do for Soul-Patrol's 20th birthday or
perhaps its 25th birthday. I smiled when asked that question. That is
because I honestly don't even know if Soul-Patrol will even be around
from day to day, week to week, month to month or year to year. After all
the world existed just fine before the website came into existence and
the world will still continue to exist long after the website disappears
from the scene.
In reality, Soul-Patrol isn't even supposed to have existed for even one
year, the fact that it has managed to be here for 15 years is amazing
and I am not sure if that represents an accomplishment or it represents
a failure of the music/culture to have fixed itself, so that this level
of obsessive analysis/documentation isn't needed anymore. If it is still
here in 5 or 10 years I won't quite know what to make of it because I
would think that by that time it would have been succeeded by some
entity that is far less disorganized and far less dependant on some
aging hippie, who is obsessed with writing about music/culture in the
middle of the night.
So rather than confront that larger issue, I will just look back and
reflect on the fact that I had a fantastic time. And perhaps more
importantly, my wife Harriette and my daughter Rachel (who worked the
door for most of those 14 hours) told me that they had a fantastic time.
And if you all think that I am obsessed about music/culture, seeing
smiles on their two faces is even more of an obsession for me.
The truth of the matter is that much of what was written on the site at
the the beginning was written with Rachel sitting on the floor, right
next to this chair. She is only 3 years older than the site and the
world that she lives in isn't exactly filled with the kind of people who
are obsessed with things like music/culture. She has led a life of
"suburban normalcy," where much of her focus has been getting into
Over the years, the Soul-Patrol Convention has allowed me as a parent to
expose Rachel to a wide body of the kind of people that she doesn't get
a chance to be exposed to on a daily basis. An eclectic group of people
who are artists, authors, filmmakers, broadcasters and more, all
eccentric outcasts in their own way, not unlike her father. And these
people have watched her grow over the years into a strikingly beautiful
18 year old woman who is now on the cusp of starting her own life. They
in a nice kind of way form a kind of alternative support system of
people who kind of live on "the other side of the street," that will do
anything they can to assist her (but she doesn't really know that quite
yet.) I'll know that I had some impact when the day comes, and she calls
to tell me that she went out with a group of friends to see an artist
like Stephanie McKay or Morris Mills or Julie Dexter or someone else
that she has met over the years at the Soul-Patrol Convention and she
took her friends backstage.
At the end of the day, the Soul-Patrol Convention much like the website
itself (as well as it's primary author) is a very unique, one of a kind,
eclectic event that while clearly not for everyone has been and
continues to be something that is needed for a whole host of reasons
that shouldn't even exist at all, but do. It was one hell of a 15th
birthday party for www.Soul-Patrol.com and it was my pleasure to put it
on, for those who felt as obsessive about this kind of stuff as I do to
take a weekend out of their lives in order to participate. All of this
took place in appropriately sureal fashion inside of a place that 20
years ago, I might not have been able to walk into the front door of,
suggested to me by a genteman that I didn't even know a few years ago,
named Charie Lucie.
My batteries are now recharged and I feel like I can conquer just about
anything (except for Eric Cantor.)
Blues, Hip Hop and Soul Music Director
Convention, June 23 in Philadelphia - Featuring 30 + Doo Wop, Classic
Soul, Rock n' Roll, Jazz, & Blues artists 9am - 2am