An aspect of life that can be hard to face is when people who we love and admire are taken away from this plane of existence way too soon. It boggles the mind and we are left with questions that’ll never be fully answered and they’ll try our patience until we find solace. The pain and confusion that comes with it is hard to pin down and emotional distress is extremely visible.
On the morning of April 15, Providence music scene fixture Tim Davis passed away at the age of 38. It’s a loss that has left friends and family distraught and saddened with such an altruistic person leaving this world way before anyone would have expected.
The Long Island native started getting involved in Providence’s music community in the late 2000s as a fan who loved having a good time while enjoying tunes being performed on stage. In 2009, he channeled his enthusiasm into his radio show Torch The Radio at the internet outlet 990 WBOB where he spun a variety of music along with presenting his animated personality on the air. Shortly after he left 990 WBOB in 2012, he became the head booker and later a manager at The Spot in Providence where he put on shows under the company name Torch Alliance. After The Spot closed in 2016, Tim held the same position when Alchemy opened later that year in the same city. His passion for live music was unrivaled and contagious, it was hard not to enjoy yourself when you encountered Davis during an night out.
“Running a live music venue is no easy task, there are so many moving parts”, says Josh Willis, former artistic director of The Spot. “There are also many personalities to balance. I always tried to put on a friendly face for our customers and especially for all of the talent that walked in our doors. When you are also juggling your own chaotic life on top of a business running seven days a week, it can become difficult to wear that important and welcoming smile. More times than I can count, Tim was there to help me process my aggravation, find something positive in a difficult situation and find my smile. I can’t thank him enough for all of those times and I will continue to be inspired by him for the rest of my days.”
As many have relayed in personal tributes since news of his passing circulated last week, Davis was a positive individual to be around and he was also a good friend of many. He cared about others doing well and he always lifted a friend up when they were feeling down. He embodied everything that’s good in a human being and it was easy to see those qualities from the way he treated others. His effect on people will last forever and never fade away. With that being said, people in the Providence music community have fond memories of him.
“Tim and I were talking once about [how] we needed more leaders and less bosses in the scene and how absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely,” reflects Nate Cozzolino, musician and maestro of Madcap Mondays at Firehouse 13. “Suddenly out of his mouth fell the following aphorism, made up on the spot: ‘When you stand like Caesar, you fall like Rome.’ I laughed my ass off and told him that if he didn’t use it in a song in two weeks that it was mine and I would never give him credit for it. Well, Tim. Turns out I was bluffing, buddy.”
Even people who only knew Davis for a few moments always appreciated him.
“I didn’t know Tim as well as I would have liked to, but man, did he know how to leave an impact,” says Bethany Killian from the Providence acoustic trio The Fates. “I met him shortly after moving back to Providence. It was my first time playing at an open mic, I knew no one and was nervous as hell. Before hearing me play or knowing who I was, Tim started talking to me and not that fake small talk stuff. Real conversation. He could tell I was new and after about a half hour of us geeking out over nerdy music and meditation stuff, he invited me to two music festivals with his group of friends. When I told him I didn’t have a tent and didn’t know many people yet, he smiled. ‘You’re family now. You stay with us.’ The kindness of this person who was so recently a stranger shocked me. I never made it to either festival, but am finally going this year with the Madcap family he helped bring me into. Tim’s kindness is a rare thing and he proved it’s not impossible. We can keep it alive.”
Among Davis’ closest friends were Mike Baker of Providence rootsy blues act Sgt. Baker & The Clones and jam-funk band The Cosmic Factory and Amanda Salemi of Providence gypsy blues juggernaut Consuelo’s Revenge. “Tim Davis was our rock,” Baker says. “Like an anchor he kept us grounded and safe. I know he has left the physical world but he has not left our minds and souls. I can feel him. He is everywhere now. He built a community of musicians and artists alike and brought us all together. All walks of life accepted. He preached love and unity everyday. He was an angel. I hope all he touched take that piece of him with them into eternity where we will all meet again, but goddamn do we miss him. I cannot even begin to say what he means to me, Amanda, and her son Liam. He knows. I tell him all the time and that won’t stop.”
Adds Salemi: “He believed in us, he believed in art, music and in spirituality. He believed that the universe was there to provide and take away when necessary. He accepted that every day of his life and I am fortunate that he was such an amazing father figure to my son Liam because he taught him that. He taught him that he could be anything he wanted in this life. That is a legacy no one can take away. Tim was one of the first people I have met in my life that would never break a promise. He would always follow through with passion. He wanted success for everyone he loved, and he loved everyone. He would do whatever it took to help anyone fulfill their heart’s desire. His mission and purpose in this life was to change the world for the better. There was never a time where I felt I couldn’t talk to Tim about something. Even if I was upset with him we could talk about it. Whether I was wrong or he was or neither of us or both we were extremely receptive of what each other had said and we would always move forward. We constantly evolved our friendship. There was always progression. In the past few weeks I have felt our friendship was the best it had ever been. I was really looking forward to experiencing that. Alas, life moves too fast but as I am sure Tim would say, this is what the universe intended for us.”
If you can make it, please go and join in remembering the life of a great person. If you can’t, keep Davis’ legacy intact by always striving to have a positive impact on others. It’s what he would want.