When Bobby Patterson, a legend of Dallas soul music, decided to call his new album I Got More Soul, he wasn't kidding around. If you ask him, he really does have more soul. More of everything, in fact.
"More soul for your ear hole. More soul than more soul. More means more," Patterson says, unleashing a monologue that could be its own work of art. "I got more soul. I'm one of a kind to shock the mind. I put good music in your behind. What I'm trying to do, is set a pace in this rat race. That's why I'm on your case. All in your face. I'm on a mission to raise your condition, not to be the cook, but to own the kitchen."
You see, Patterson speaks with the vigor of a true O.G. Each of his sentences are promenades. They're kernels of wisdom, wit and accounts of the past; victory laps for 70 years of living. If a biopic of his life was written, produced and filmed, Samuel L. Jackson would play the lead in this Quentin Tarantino-helmed project. It's the only way to accurately capture every ounce of Patterson's cartoonish, dead-ass serious and utterly fascinating charisma.
Patterson reminisces of old Dallas streets, like Forest Avenue, which seems mundane until he recalls that Forest Avenue later was renamed after Martin Luther King Jr. Then you realize that Dr. King hadn't even given his famous "I Have A Dream" speech at the nation's capital when Patterson graduated from Lincoln High School in 1962. Wisdom, wit, accounts of the past.
Over his decades-long career, Patterson has had his hand in virtually every aspect of the music industry. He's been an artist, a producer, an A&R for Jewel Records, CBS, Columbia and Atlantic, and a disc jockey for KKDA-AM 730 "Soul 73." "I've learned a lot about the music business," Patterson says. "Not on the stage, but off the stage."
On the stage, Patterson began as a member of the Dallas group Royal Rockers in his teens. He would later record songs for Dallas-based Abnack Records and at Jetstar Records as well. At Jetstar, he recorded and released "Let Them Talk," "I'm Leroy, I'll Take Her" and "T.C.B. or T.Y.A.," among others.
After taking a long sabbatical from recording music, I Got More Soul is his triumphant return. It's produced by Zach Ernst, former Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears and current the Relatives guitarist, and it's packed with covers and songs inspired by his colorful radio sayings. Recorded in Austin, Patterson relished the opportunity to record an album in the city, with all of its reverie and large studios.
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"The atmosphere is just right for cutting a record," he says. I Got More Soul is spirited, packed with brass as bright as fire, Patterson's warm vocals and a retro sound so strong and realized that if you close your eyes you might see a room full of young'uns doing the twist and the bop.
And yet the album almost didn't see the light of day. After it was recorded, it was almost scrapped because of contract negotiations. Patterson says it was "four years long in pages." "It tied you up, your kids up, your great-grandkids. It was perpetuity, which was forever," he says, doing a spot-on Yogi Berra. However, Patterson found Los Angeles-based record label, Omnivore Records, a company that would not try to eat up all of his fortune.
Appropriately, looking back after all these years in the business, Patterson can look back on his inspiration to become a musician as a bit of an aspiration. There is no story of a parent endlessly playing records around the house or a toddler belting out tunes, showing promise. There was, however, an epiphany.
One day during his formative years, Patterson was at the Empire Room in North Dallas with his father. He saw a man pull up to the scene in a white Cadillac, wearing a white suit and white hat, carrying a white guitar. The man was none other than blues legend T-Bone Walker. Patterson recalls thinking, lucidly: "Hey, whatever he's doing, that's what I wanna do." Not only did he do it, but he continues to. More likely than not, he'll keep doing more of it, too.