Opening interview with a track from “Big Trouble” the SoulMates 1998 release on the Filet O’ Soul
label. The tune: “Tell Somebody” Wilbur Cole-vocals/keys, Johnny O’Keefe-Guitar, Tom
Donahue-Drums, Bill Peltier-Bass.
Jacquie: Yea..Yea...tell somebody. Tell somebody that Wilbur Cole is in the studio with me this
afternoon and we’re gonna talk a little bit about his music and about the CD he has currently and
about his award winning contribution to the Twin Cities music scene. And I also want to tell
somebody that Wilbur Cole is our “Mr. Cleanhead” here in the Twin Cities(a reference to a
previous song played on the day’s show by Eddie Cleanhead Vinson.) Sitting in the studio with
me this afternoon.....Wilbur Cole..a member of the SoulMates..a member of the Bound Band and
several other band here in the Twin Cities. Tell us all about it, Wilbur Cole....
Wilbur: First, I want to start out saying that I really appreciate you having me at your jam session
last night.(Monday’s Diamond Blue Revue at Arnellia’s). That was something else...knowing that
you have your arms around the talent throughout the Twin Cities here, I just want to congratulate
Jacquie: Well...thank you. Hmmm...my arms around the talent??!? Am I squeezing
everybody..just like the full bodied blues?
Wilbur: Yea...and a special thanks to Ms. Arnellia. We had a beautiful talk last night..her and
Jackie(Hicks). You know. Ya’ll just got things going and like I said I discovered that you have a lot
of clout here in the Twin Cities. You have your arms around the musicians, them and the jams
sessions....that means that you’re bringing them together!
Jacquie: Thank you, Wilbur..thank you very much. I enjoy it!
Wilbur: Well, it’s very highly appreciated and I want you to know that. I’m speaking for all the
musicians cause we love each other in this town.
Jacquie: Hey...we got to! That the only way we’re gonna move forward.
Wilbur: First, I would like to say...I’m affiliated with Mount Zion Church of God in Christ and
I’m with the choir there..I’m playing music with the choir there on Sundays and I also have a jam
session that’s running out at Floyd’s in Victoria, Minnesota on a Sunday evening, which we gather
all the musicians together and we just have a ball. And from those jams sessions musicians come
together and they start different groups and I’m a part of that and this is my surroundings. The
Bound Band, of course you know...we have Brother Willie Walker, which is planning to go abroad
here in the next other month or so. He is affiliated with the Bound Band and we’re still together on
the grace of having musicians that, when I call on them, they come and help me out. And I just
want to say I really thank them for that.
Jacquie: That name has been around the city for a long time,“The Bound Band”, correct?.
That’s your band?
Wilbur: Correct, I am the originator of that group and it’s been together since 1979.
Jacquie: I thought I’d been hearing that name for awhile......and you’ve moved that expertise to
Floyd’s on a Sunday in Victoria, Minnesota to have your own jam session there. Can I ask you a
couple question about that cause I very often thought about going out there but I don’t know how
to get there! So, how does one get to Floyd’s? in Victoria?
Wilbur: Well, from St. Paul in which I know that you live so I would like for you to come out 94
West to 35W South. Take 62....62 will run you into Highway 5, which would be 212 and 5, they
come together and you just follow 5 and it’ll take you straight to Chanhassen. The next town
would be Victoria. And we’re located just as you come into Victoria just as you cross the light
you’ll see the club named Floyd’s there.
Jacquie: How long have you had that jam out there?
Wilbur: 3 years!
Jacquie: Congratulations! That’s a long time to hold a jam together!
Wilbur: Yes it is!
Jacquie: How long have you been playing, Wilbur?
Wilbur: I been playing 41 years!
Jacquie: Always piano?
Wilbur: Yes, always!
Jacquie: You write your own music?
Wilbur: Yes, I do!
Jacquie: Just like that tune we just heard, “Tell Somebody”. That comes from your CD work..the
CD is called “Big Trouble” and is from your work with the SoulMates on the Filet O' Soul label.
Tell me something about this CD.
Wilbur: Well, that particular song on that CD is based on a true experience, you know. It say
that if you’re in love, you’re gonna tell somebody, which is very true and there is always been
someone that, when you fall in love, there is always someone that always have something to say
about..meaning you shouldn’t be in love. This comes from parents, friends, relatives and married
Jacquie: I know...every body got something to say, don’t they....
Wilbur: Yes, so the record is saying that when you’re in love, you’re gonna tell somebody about
it, which is very true because if you didn’t you wouldn’t even get married or none of these kinds
of things wouldn’t be going on. But anyway that’s what it’s based on and I see it’s kind of built on
love and respect and happiness that the SoulMates have created throughout these fifteen years
that we’ve been together.
Jacquie: Fifteen years!! That’s a long time. I didn’t realize that it’s has been that long.
Wilbur: I didn’t either until I walked through the door here!
Jacquie: Tell us the names of the members of the SoulMates, other than yourself, Wilbur Cole,
playing keyboards and vocals for the SoulMates. Who else is in that band?
Wilbur: Our bass player is Bill Peltier. He is originally from here in the Cities. And our
drummer is Tom Donahue. He’s from Duluth, Minnesota. And our leader, Johnny O’ Keefe..he’s
from the Twin Cities here and he is also the proprietor of First Generations Studio, in which we do
Jacquie: So, even though you have played here in the Twin Cities for over 41 years, you weren’t
born here, were you?
Wilbur: No, I was not.
Jacquie: Where were you born, Wilbur?
Wilbur: A place called Silver Creek, Mississippi. You know, it’s the southern part of Mississippi,
down near Hattiesburg and on down into, you know.....the next turn would be into Louisiana. So,
we call ourselves the “Southern Mississippians”. And I’m a little bit further down than some of
the old players.....
Jacquie: Past the Delta, you mean? More south than that. So, when did you move up to the Twin
Wilbur: Came here in 1963.
Jacquie: Was it for music?
Wilbur: Not necessarily. As a matter of fact, when I came here, I came here to visit some relatives,
which my Grandmother lived here and some of my other relatives lived here, a brother. And I
really was on my way to Richmond California. That was supposed to be my destination. But, I got
here and through encouragement, and other things that happened for me, I remained here and
made it my home.
Jacquie: Got a little sidetracked from California, huh?
Wilbur: Yes, I did and I’m glad I did because...even though we don’t like to speak in terms of
something a little tough on certain areas, but...I’m kinda like a mule. Down south, we call ‘em a
“mule”. And a mule won’t cross a wooden bridge because the bridge is shaky(laughter). So the
ground out there is shaky for Wilbur. (More laughter)
Jacquie: Well it’s a lot more solid here in Minnesota. But that’s cause it was frozen. (Big laughter)
You thought it was solid ground and it was ice all that time. (J and W laughing)
Wilbur: I wanted to change my mind a few time but I decided not to.
Jacquie: I bet it was in the winter when you wanted to change your mind. So, you said you been
playing keyboard all this time. You enjoy that? Why?
Wilbur: I realize that it was a gift. And all music has a spiritual orientation about it. So, when I
realized that it was a gift then I started to appreciate it. That’s what sent me forward even to the
University of Minnesota, which I studied a few quarters there. But, you know when God give you
something, let no one put it under. That means that no one has that particular gift that you have.
Each one of us have something different from the other, even our looks. So when I begin to
realize this, music began to explain this to me. And then I began to ask questions about it cause I
wanted to know what is it about this substance that has me feeling so determined to be involved
so much. So I had to define it. You know, we have a saying out of the south...in order.....when you
solve a problem you got to go back and figure out how you come about that answer. So, I had to
put myself in a position, where music has to be defined for me. It became that serious to me and I
couldn’t find anyone to really to define it. So, I went searching and my father...my earthly father
defined music for me. And I’m gonna define it for the listeners here today.
Jacquie: Please do.
Wilbur: Music is a combination of harmonious sounds that affect the auditorial nerve. That’s
what it is.
Jacquie: I know that’s correct but it seems like it’s so much more than just that.
Wilbur: It explains and it carries the feeling of everything that is involved in human mind and
Jacquie: And human communications too.
Wilbur: Yes, even a deaf person can play music. That has always been proven. But I mean to
define it...when you say it’s a combination of harmonious sounds, that means that the sound has to
harmonize for it to be beauty to the hearing ear. Your hearing is your auditory nerve, see. So, the
music is a combination of harmonious sounds which is beauty to the ears so it can be accepted. If
your ears cannot accept the music, it has to get to a distance to where it can not no longer hear it
because we cannot shut off our hearing, you see. So its a combination of harmonious sounds,
thats what make the beauty come to us when we’re listening to our music, you see.
Jacquie: Preach it!
Wilbur: So, it affects our hearing. So, that’s why we can say sometimes “Oh, that’s too loud”
cause it’s affecting us.
Jacquie: That’s right. It impacts us. But its the harmony that brings the beauty. Joining me live in
the studio, Wilbur Cole, keyboard man, writer, singer, vocalist, and first generation from
Mississippi to the Midwest, bringing wisdom and his music with him. We’re gonna talk more
with Wilbur Cole in just a little bit. We’re gonna go back to the CD by the SoulMates. It’s called
(Music playing: “Good Lookin’ Woman”)
Jacquie: 25 minutes now after 4 O’clock in the Twin Cities. Joining me live in the studio, we have
musician Wilbur Cole to talk about his music and his mission. Sounds like he’s preaching the
blues to us this afternoon and I sure do enjoy it. I’m gonna start calling you “The Preacher”. Well,
you sitting up there in the church choir on Sundays singing gospel and then you go and take over
Floyd’s on Sunday evening with the blues. I’m gonna start calling you that: Wilbur “The
Preacher” Cole. I have another tune all cued up from that same CD “Big Trouble”. The tune is
called “Can’t Run Can’t Hide”. Another original by you, Wilbur?
Wilbur: Yes, it’s an original but written by Johnny O’ Keefe. It explains that you can’t run and
you can’t hide. You know, when you turn and run, you have to keep running. So, if you got the
blues, you don’t run from the blues, you deal with it.
Jacquie: That’s right but it also sounds like you’re talking from a gospel base too, cause no matter
what you do, if you’re running, you’re gonna have to keep running. But eventually you’re gonna
have to turn around and face it.
Wilbur: You got to face it. So, the song is based on, when you got the blues, you can’t run, you
can’t hide cause the blues gonna get you deep inside. So, you know , so it’s saying that...deal with
it. When you got the blues the next thing you got to do is try and get over it. Because if the blues
stay with you, you might end up in an institution somewhere. So the whole thing is love and
happiness, you know. You have to feel good about what you do, regardless to what it is. Gee...I
guess I’m speaking a little too much here. I guess I didn’t realize it.
Jacquie: No, you’re not. I want you to talk . Cause what you’re saying is right and true. Can’t run,
can’t hide. Wilbur Cole and the SoulMates.
(Music playing: “Cant Run Can’t Hide”)
Jacquie: Recorded on the Filet O' Soul record label, music from the SoulMates, featuring Wilbur
Cole on vocals and on keyboard. “Can’t Run Can’t Hide”. Is that right?
Wilbur: That’s right.
Jacquie: Where’s the band playing? Any place coming up soon?
Wilbur: Well, in a couple of weeks....uh....you know its hard for me to keep up where we are.
You know, I have to call my friend sometime and say, “Man, where am I at tonight” or the next
week. Anyway, we’re in Carver next week. And we’ll be there for a couple of nights. And we’re
kinda moving around a little bit, you know. We do have a website. And our website is
www.soulblue.com and on that website you can pick up our dates and a lot of other good things
about the SoulMates.
Jacquie: So, soul blue, no “s”, just soulblue. Give it to us one more time.
Jacquie: Now, what about the Bound Band?
Wilbur: The Bound Band? They really have some good things to say about themselves.....and
about everyone else! And I am connected with them and they have an agent now, their own agent
so to speak. You know, she’ll probably be booking some other people beside the Bound Band.
But they do have an agent and they’re getting ready to help Willie out. You know, we want to see
Willie excel. You know, he and I been together for a long, long time.
Jacquie: Talking about Wee Willie Walker.
Wilbur: That’s right we all trying to get behind him and push him as far as we can, you know,
and stick with him and things. And so, he’s with the Bound Band. But the reason the Bound Band
and all the other bands are moving so successfully is because first you have to pick a leader and I
was so grateful and so blessed to be able to pick a leader for the Bound Band that had that ability
to do so and that’s why it stands as it is and I would like to call his name and we all know him as
Tamu which is one of the great musicians in this town and he is the leader of the Bound Band.
Jacquie: I did not know that. I just assumed it was you. I’ve been hearing your name associated
with the Bound Band so many years, I just assumed you were the leader.
Wilbur: Well, I’m them with them both mind and heart and soul, you know but sometimes, we
all have the understanding that we all are kinda drifted out. Even from the SoulMates. We have
the trio over here, a little something going on over here, a little thing going over here because it
keeps us involved with a lot of our friends and our musician friends that we gathers together.
And with the Bound Band and Tamu, he plays the keyboard and he plays the trumpet. So he’s the
leader and I back him. So what I actually have become is kinda coordinator that will make sure
that , if there’s a little problem over there and it needs fixing, I come fix it. You know what I mean?
Jacquie: Sounds like the producer to me.
Wilbur: That’s what it is and that’s what I feel in my heart. So, even in the music, if something
needs to be done in the music and they choose to have me come in and help them out to do it,
that’s what I’m there for.
Jacquie: But if someone is looking for Wilbur Cole, they can find you on Sundays at Floyd’s,
correct? And also with the SoulMates, correct? Gig coming up in Carver and you also have
something in Red Wing coming up pretty soon, too?
Wilbur: Well, we’ve been booked up there several times now and we’re looking forward to
going back in that direction and moving around.
Jacquie: How do you keep the two bands separate when you’re playing in two bands for such a
long time? Do you just call somebody and say: “Hey, where am I supposed to be”?
Wilbur: No, you see the SoulMates and I are kinda framed in the order of first choice because we
have an agent and once we give our word, we’re going to hold that. We live by those standards. So
what we do is we form the other groups and when the SoulMates are not working then we go
work with the rest of the other groups. So, all the bands are independent, you see. If I’m not there,
then we have someone to come in and take my place or they can go on without me. That’s the way
we set it up and that’s the way we rehearse it and so, we don’t have no problem when it come to
that. So, they know and say: “Wilbur, where ya’ll at tonight? Well, where you at tonight? Well,
Jacquie: What time does the jam start at Floyd’s on Sunday?
Wilbur: It starts at 7 O’ clock..until we have an opportunity to have each musician that walk
through that door participating that night.
Jacquie: That’s wonderful. Floyd’s in Victoria, Minnesota. Wilbur Cole and Friends hosting that
blues jam. Wilbur is a long time musician here in the Twin Cities but his origins are in
Mississippi. The city was Silver Creek, Mississippi. Making him a first generation musician...and
missionary(smile)...out of Mississippi into the Midwest. Got a question for you, Wilbur. You’ve
seen a lot of music come and go. You’ve seen a lot of styles change over your last 41 years in the
business. What stood out to you as the biggest change? What did you see? Was it disco? Was that
the biggest thing? Was it rap? What was the biggest thing?
Wilbur: The biggest thing WAS rap. Disco made it’s first move and then it turned into rap. What
I mean is that rap begin to take it’s hold. Back in 1975, I recorded a song with a group called....it
was a band called Thieves and the Funkhouse. It was a rap song. That was 1975 and we still have
that on record. And you know after that, disco moved on. That was the era for disco. That was
when the beats became a steady beat for the dancin’ crowd. And, you know, everybody loves to
dance. If you don’t dance at some time or another, there’s some limbs in your body just ain’t
gonna work right! (Big laughter from Jacquie and Wilbur)
Jacquie: You know I believe that. For me, dancing is a form of expression, too.
Wilbur: But the biggest change was the rap. When rap came in, it got common real fast. What I
mean by it got common real fast was..it didn’t matter who you were. If you could talk and if you
had a concept of putting words together ,you could become a rapper. Which rap have it’s own
terms. It is beautiful because it express things from the heart of the human that 9 times out of
10...that he have experienced. And it became a big movement to the younger generation. It was
their turn, you understand, to come out, dance, rap and express themselves. The only thing that I
saw wrong with it was the wordings....sometime was out of focus as far as being a.......uh...
Jacquie: ......a little derogatory...some of those. That’s a good way of putting that....out of focus! I
Wilbur: And the other was....that...sometime you have to watch it in music, sometime, because
sometime your fantasy will force you to try to live this out and that’s what started to move into the
place of the rap. You know what I mean. It start to become a function of living this out, you see,
instead of saying this was what happened yesterday it’s gone, you understand, I’m gonna rap
about something good. But that’s up to the individual and we have no jurisdiction over that. You
know, we have to express our own feelings about it.
Jacquie: So, you’re saying that some of the kids just got lost in the fantasy of the rap and lost the
content of what they were trying to do.
Wilbur: Yes...and some were encouraged, some were forced to do it, you know what I mean. But
we do have this.....there’s always gonna be a good side to humans that’s gonna shine. So, we have
the good side of the rap artists that have stepped up and said: “We’re no longer gonna go for this.
We gonna keep this clean and we’re gonna keep it respected and we’re gonna turn it into a major
business. Those are the ones that you follow.
Jacquie: Speaking of business in the music, where do you see all of this heading? What do you
think is the future of music.
Wilbur: Well, history repeats itself. So, it’s gonna come around. One thing that have never
moved and that’s the blues. Blues took the pick-up and it’s gonna take the drop-off.
Wilbur: Well, because the feeling of the blues is always gonna remain the master of the feeling of
the human. Okay, when you sing the blues, there’s gonna be a feeling that you get that, regardless
of how good you are, the other sounds of other music is not gonna give you that particular feeling.
Okay, now the music...the blues started off very simple. It started off 1-2-3. First change, second
change ,third change. Okay. This is just a different explanation for how we set up a rhythm
section. Cause now we use 1-4-5. Back in the old days, we used 1-2-3. The difference was first
change, second change, third change. That’s the blues changes. We have the tendency now to take
it all into different focuses as far as putting other, different changes in it. Which is fine, but it still
remain the same. So, the blues is the leader. It’s the one that carries you from the church house to
the outhouse. And it brings you back. That’s the blues.
Jacquie:(laughing) So, what I’m understanding you to say is, no matter how much it changes, it’s
still gonna come back around to the one, and the one is the blues.
Wilbur: Yes, and the teacher of music is the jazz because the jazz takes you through all twelve
tones ,where blues takes you through five tones. There’s a difference. When you kinda break
music down, you have to break it down to the terms of being understood by even the very
common mind. So, when you’re using all twelve tones, then you’re into your jazz terms. But when
you’re using five tones, you’re into your blues terms.
Jacquie: And you, Wilbur, are most definitely into the blues. Wilbur Cole....joining me live in
the studio this afternoon. Thanks for coming in Wilbur. Anything you want to say to the folks
sitting out there listening?
Wilbur: Yes, I want to say that we love you from every different angle and we love for God to
bless you and all of your family. And keep us in mind...make sure that you listen to this
station(KFAI Radio) because it is what’s happening. It keeps the history of the blues in focus.
Jacquie: And on Tuesday afternoons, we take you from Sugar Hill to Blueberry Hill, stopping at
all points homegrown, in between. Joining me in the studio, Wilbur Cole, talking about his
contributions to music here in the Twin Cities and abroad, sending Wee Willie Walker out into the
greater blues world. He’s heading overseas, you said?
Wilbur: Yes, he is.
Jacquie: Members of the Bound Band going with him or just Willie?
Wilbur: No, he’s going with the Butanes. As a matter of fact, I met with one of the Butanes
Sunday night, which was out at the jam session(Floyd’s)and everything is in focus and they’re
going over there to have a good time. It’s a big concert. We’re looking forward to having them go
over and come back and rejoice with us about it.
Jacquie: That’s right. But if you’re looking for Wilbur Cole, you can find him with the SoulMates.
You can also find him at Floyd’s 7pm every Sunday with his blues jam. Floyd’s in Victoria,
Minnesota. Thanks for coming in Wilbur.
Wilbur: Thank you!
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