Today I have a task that ought to be easy, writing about my friend. Instead I find I barely know where to start because, unexpectedly, my friend is gone. His infectious laugh rings in my ears, his music is in my bones and his memory is front and center in my mind like I am watching it on TV right before me but he is not here. Last week, Kingston and Saugerties lost one of our favorite people and an unmistakable influence on so many in the underground Upstate New York hip-hop scene, a poetic soul who never took what he had for granted. I am talking about Bobby Daniels a.k.a. Mr. Bobby Delicious and there are no words good enough to sum up the loss or the blessing of knowing him.
Even after a beautiful initial memorial gathering at the Rosendale Café’s outdoor lovely garden area of a diverse array of folks whom Bobby’s life touched this past Sunday, it’s hard for me to type these words, because it makes it more real. Even as I heard stories shared by his wonderful family or saw old friends I hadn’t seen in years and reminisced about the adventures we had, the concerts we saw Bob perform or even performed with him or the wide range of interests he managed to find a way to excel at, writing this makes his absence more real. I hadn’t seen Bobby in a few years, whereas once we had lived in the same building in Rosendale and hung out basically every day making hip-hop beats, joking about old TV shows or playing with his funny little cat trying to get it to meow along with the piano.
Bobby had a way of acknowledging the humanity in everyone. It didn’t matter if you were a janitor or a politician, a humble musician or a short-order cook, he would ask how you were doing and have an engaging and present conversation with you. He loved rediscovering the value in old music and had an encyclopedic knowledge of the subject. When inspiration struck, I have never seen someone so inspired to spend a full day looking for the perfect 30 seconds of a classical music record to construct a whole new beat, or who could make a hard-hitting song out of an Edie Brickell sample sound so convincing.
Bobby was a positive person who loved community but also insisted on respect, an important lesson for many of us who let people push us around. He would be your best friend if you were cool and never cared about trends, social media or dumb gossip. He also was an awe-inspiring presence with a microphone in his hand, whether solo sharing the stage with Listener Band at some epic regional shows, or collaborating with people like soulful pop singer Kenny Camacho or Josh Eppard of Coheed and Cambria via Josh’s Weerd Science rap persona (they shared a rap duo together called Newborn and made an underground classic that real heads love).
If you get a chance please go to YouTube and do yourself a favor of watching “Rising Sun,” Bobby’s hip-hop remake of The Animals’ take on “House of the Rising Sun.” The tune features Jimmy Eppard on keys tearing it up and Andy Parker kicking ass on harmonica over the familiar tune repurposed into a rugged but earnest rap groove, but Bobby steals the show. “My mark is what I leave behind, it’s more than beats and more than rhymes and it’s all wrapped up into one … “ he growls in his familiar gruff delivery. He really did bring it all together into one experience. Being at a Bobby Delish show was an extension of everything he was about, like seeing what someone stood for and being blown away as they communicate in song but you still feel like you are hanging out with them. He was way too humble and deserved a lot more acclaim for his art. That said, anywhere he worked from Riverside to a farm to the Rosendale Café or on various other jobs he always left a big impact.
Bobby spent the last few years on the island of Culebra, where he passed away. He studied the language and had already made many friends, including the mayor. He climbed trees and picked fruit. I even saw a video of him using a Sawzall on a Papaya that made me belly laugh. He swam in the ocean and was happy, as he deserved. He will be missed terribly but always with us and also always a part of the real Kingston. He had one of the highest IQs in our county and never told anyone that.
For the fans and for a further celebration of his life, Josh Eppard as Weerd Science is doing a very rare not-to-be-missed Newborn-era show later in the summer at The Anchor on July 20 that will have special guests paying tribute to our friend and brother. It is going to be good vibes, stories, photos, music and more. Stay tuned for that for sure.
Bobby, I just don’t know how to sign this off. You made me a better musician and made me pay more attention to landing my vocals on the snare. You have helped me reset and ground myself many times when I had depression, including even after your death. I’m just so thankful for all the times we shared and am more dedicated than ever to try to let dumb stuff go by the wayside and to not waste a minute of this precious gift of life.
I’m not gonna lie and pretend this doesn’t suck but also, the arc of a human life is a mystery known only to God beforehand. We need to honor Bob’s life and story and uplift one another and count our many blessings like he counted the many wack rappers he embarrassed on fire tracks.