If someone were to produce a documentary to chronicle the rock and roll music scene in East Tennessee from 1990 to 2018 – the red-haired ponytail of Phil Davis would probably be a regular face in that soundtrack.

With a bright colored face, a radiant smile and burly bear hug, Phil was everybody’s brother. Last week, Phil died suddenly, and his wife, family, and friends are still stunned by the loss. Another reminder – that any of us can go at any time.

Phil Davis was a professional soundman. You know the one — the guy running the cables, checking the mikes, getting his hands dirty and working behind the scenes to make everyone happy – especially the egos on the stage.

According to his high school friend Gary Bortz, Phil got the bug early in a basement somewhere between Bloomingdale and Lynn Garden. He started with a small mixing console and continued for over 30 years. He toured with Avalanche and several other early 80s/90s rock bands and has been a die-hard fan of original rock bands in the Tri-Cities for years. Phil was the go-to guy if you wanted to get serious about playing in a rock band.

Together with his friends Alan Prince and Robert Pickle, this threesome with Phil made up ‘The Soundpranos.’

Phil died last Friday of cardiac arrest. I was on my way to Savannah with a laptop open working on a proposal when I saw the news. With Facebook in the background, Jared Bentley posted a note, and within minutes, everyone was shocked to know that our friend Phil had died of cardiac arrest at age 54. His wife had posted a message four hours earlier, but Friday, November 23rd was Phil’s day to go ahead of us all.

Earlier tonight, I drove to the celebration of Phil’s life at Preaching Christ Church. The city was aglow, and Kingsport’s parade route was gearing up and the annual Christmas parade and tree lighting on Church Circle. The weather was warm, but cloudy and dreary with a light right falling with the streets shimmering from the holiday lights.

There were two things that I appreciated about this last time with Phil’s spirit, family and friends. As we all gathering to celebrate his memory, it was clear that the Phil I knew – excited, optimistic, a big brother and always ready for the next concert or gig was the same guy everyone else had met. I still remembered him working, smiling, usually drenched in the work he was doing and a friend to everyone he met.

He loved his wife too. If nothing else, that’s the one thing that always echoed from my time with Phil – there was nothing more important to him than his love of Holly. She was with him almost every night and like him – seemed to enjoy the entire parade of quirky musicians, loud stages and rowdy bars.

But the one thing that soared above everything else was the scripture the pastor read from Ecclesiastes 7 versus 2. I’m sure it’s not the only chapter the brings hope during times of loss like this, but it was way more important to me tonight.

“It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart.”

When I arrived tonight, it was undoubtedly mourning, but Phil would have loved the laughter. He would have roared at the stories. He would have shed a tear with all of us watching his friends come to grips with the rosy face under the Atlanta Braves hat at tee-shirt looking back at us from the stage.

It’s unfortunate that old friends only come together during a time of loss. Each of our lives is such a short sequel. Tonight was sad, but it was also a celebration too – a night where everyone joined together to cherish the light that was undoubtedly a part of our friend Phil Davis.

I heard so many names tonight. “Phil, Philbio, Soundpranos, Big Brother, Little Brother” – all of those names capturing a glimpse of another bright and loving spirit that we all loved as Brother Phil Davis.

Godspeed my friend. Til we meet again.