November 2, 2011
Soul musicians deliver the goods
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Tim Laurence, left, and Oscar Davis, Cortland men who traveled across the country in a ‘59 Chevrolet Impala, sang soul music in eight cities along the way.
Soul music is alive and well, said singer Oscar Davis.
The Cortland man and his drummer, Tim Laurence, musicians over 30 years, know that firsthand, after a fall cross-country singing tour in Davis’ ’59 Chevrolet Impala.
“One of the places we hit was Knoxville, Tenn.,” said Laurence. “We played at this place called Ray’s. We did some serious justice there, that we did.”
“The staff gave us $200 in tips,” said Davis. “Everywhere we went, people were like, we have never seen this before. People didn’t want us to leave,” said Laurence, also known as “Ric Supreme.”
The two, passionate about soul music, did a “Sharing the Goods” tour in September, traveling along Interstate 40, hitting Bristol, Tenn., Chattanooga, Oklahoma City, Nashville, Memphis, Albuquerque, Los Angeles and, finally, Burbank, in Davis’ Chevy, lining up gigs along the way.
The two focused on the songs of Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye and Wilson Pickett, as well as some of Davis’ originals.
“Soul music is alive and well,” said Davis. “Ask Memphis,” said Laurence.
The pair achieved all their goals, leaving Cortland a week after Davis retired from his SUNY Cortland post as a cleaner, and staying on the road for a month. Laurence is a caregiver for a patient with a brain injury.
“We hit eight cities, the car got out there, we got on the Jay Leno show,” said Laurence. “We didn’t get on the show,” Davis said. “We were the warm-up act.”
“We were going to be a feature interview story on the Tonight Show, if we became famous enough on the trip from New York to Burbank,” said Davis. “In 30 days we did about 3,800 miles, yes indeed, and apparently we didn’t get famous enough.”
Davis wanted to promote his CD, “Longevity” and his original song, “Fine in My ’59” during Chevrolet’s 100th anniversary this year.
People can get more details at www.Facebook.com/OscarandRic.
Davis wanted to thank several who were instrumental in making the tour a reality: Willkare Auto and Ric Smith of Happy Auto Detailing in Cortland and Gary Mullen’s Autobody in Dryden.
“ I love Memphis, not as much as Knoxville,” said Laurence. “There’s so much musical history out there.”
The two got a kick out of the California girls in Venice Beach. “Women wiggle when they walk,” said Davis. “Amen,” said Laurence. “It was a grand, grand thing.”
“Ric and I stayed in so many Motel 6s, we got to know each other rather well. I am glad he’s home and I am not,” said Davis. “It was a lot of fun,” Laurence said.
They wanted to get on the Tonight Show, knowing of Leno’s interest in antique cars.
“We had tickets to be in the audience,” said Davis. “The truth of the matter, this story is better than being on the Tonight Show. I used to have a witness to act like I am not lying. This time, I am not lying,” he laughed. “They must have had 300 to 400 people in the audience,” he said. “The Tonight Machine is warming up. The cameras are rolling. Jay Leno has not come out. They are telling us what not to do. They film the Tonight Show from 4 to 5 p.m. nonstop and it airs 11:30 p.m. Monday to Friday. It’s about 10 minutes to 4, Jay comes out and warms up the audience ... Leno asked if there were any questions,” Davis said.
After one woman spoke up, Davis told him he drove this ’59 Impala from New York to California, and asked if he could send a photo to the star’s website collection. “Come down and take a picture,” Leno said. “Come on Ric,” Davis said.
“He’s asking questions,” Davis said. “I am so nervous, I didn’t know what I am saying, what I am looking like ... I can’t wait to get back to my seat. “How did the tour go?” Leno asked.
“It was great until we got to Pomona and the drive shaft fell out,” Davis said. Leno, a car aficionado, knew all about the ’59 Impala’s problems with drive shafts, Davis said.
“It fell out because the car never had been driven as much. It got out to California and broke down in a Motel 6 Parking lot.”
“Arizona killed it,” said Laurence. Specifically, the Mojave dessert, the two said. Davis suffered in the 110 degree heat in the car with no air conditioning. The car suffered as much.Leno not only spent three or four minutes interviewing the pair, he then had them sit on his couch for a further interview.
“I am out of my mind with surreallness,” Davis said. He says, ‘Now you can tell everyone you were on the Tonight Show,’ He interviewed us for like nine minutes.”
“Take these pictures, go get famous and come back and do the show,” Leno told the two. “That’s exactly what we propose to do,” Davis said.
In Pomona, Calif., the pair visited Kimberly and former Homer Baptist pastor Glenn Gunderson. “I was on the Praise and Worship Team with him for 10 years,” said Davis. Gunderson is now pastor of the 1st Baptist Church of Pomona.
“It’s a beautiful church, man,” said Laurence.
“We had some miracles happen in Pomona. It was straight up miracles,” said Davis. “When the car broke down, we had $200 left. All we had was Los Angeles and we were flying out.”
The car broke down on a Sunday and the two were walking in the neighborhood and saw a mechanic’s shop open. He took a look at the car the next day, working on it from 9 a.m. to noon. The shocks were pulled from the frame, disassembled, welded, reassembled. After road testing the car, they worked on the drive shaft from noon to 4 p.m. By day’s end, the car was driving like there was no problem.
“I didn’t want to know what the bill was,” said Davis. “They didn’t take credit cards.”
The mechanic billed him $195, for welding shocks and brakes, replacing a universal joint — a drive shaft installation.
“I was really glad I went to church that day,” Davis said.
He expected a $2,000 bill. Davis asked him why the low charge and the mechanic said: “It was a nice experience.”
Davis said the experience taught him: “God is great.” “There’s a lot of good in sharing the goods.”
He is excited and encouraged by the support people gave the two. The pair plan to audition in New York City for Holland America and Carnival Cruise Ships.
“Yes, people had our backs everywhere we were,” said Laurence. “When people saw what we do, we made a big difference.”
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