The UK (Isle of Man) native, who now resides in Chicago IL, has truly made a name for himself across at least two continents. His electric, acoustic, and dobro guitar work is nothing short of magic. One might even claim WITCHCRAFT! But what you are experiencing is someone with a passion and drive to take their heart filled talent and work it into amazing music. That hard work has landed this young man firmly into a music scene where he appears to have been born specifically to reside.
Davy Knowles is a true blues rocker with a soulful grounding that keeps every strummed, picked, and slide note firmly tethered to the Blues.
Being one of the nicest and most gracious artists you could hope to meet, Davy has a true appreciation for his fans and for his craft. He takes his music seriously and takes the support of his fans just as seriously. These are the qualities that lead to a loyal and well-earned following. It’s also why you constantly see venues and festivals working to book this young man into their schedules.
Having the chance to catch Davy at 9 Wallis the end of last year was an absolute delight. Showing his versatility, he clearly commands a room, regardless of size, or even if there is a roof overhead! Which to be honest, no matter the venue, that roof is going to be blown off anyway!
With his talent widely recognized, Knowles has toured with Jeff Beck, Buddy Guy, The Who, Warren Haynes, George Thorogood, Peter Frampton, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and many more! He’s even played live concerts for people not even on the planet! (The Astronauts on the ISS via Mission Control in Houston TX.) To say his talent and music are out of this world, well you’d be right!
Davy has the innate ability to call back the old dark Blues of the Delta and follow its path to Chicago where it electrified and took on the iconic feel that turned to the best rock and electric Blues in the world. It’s a path that many have taken. But not many have come all the way across an ocean and followed that sound from south to north and done so with such grace and fidelity to the emotion, sound, and history.
His recognition of the birth of the Blues and the start of the protest songs of our history is a great tribute to a music that is the basis of nearly every popular form on the airwaves today. His appreciation of the need to continually reinvent, or to approach in a new way that is unique in the world, is something that comes clearly through on stage and in his albums.
Davy Knowles live is a party and life event in the making. You’ll see someone who packs a room and has a blast on stage with the music and laughter that comes from playing with a great group of musicians.
With Davy on this trip through 9 Wallis was Michael Caskey on drums, Andrew Toombs on keys, and Tod Bowers on bass.
Michael who is from Michigan and now resides in Chicago has been touring with Davy for over 4 years now. The relationship has had an organic growth into a pairing that compliments each other nicely. A free and open player he readily takes off in the right direction with the slightest hint of movement and keeps the beat moving faithfully and playfully along.
Andrew, being a demon on the keys, is a pleasure to hear blended so smoothly and prominently into a rock blues sound that slides between soul, funk, and rock but always with a heart in the Blues. It’s easy to see why he has teamed up with a group of musicians that are rightfully sought after from one end of the country to the next, and beyond!
Rounding out the night was Tod Bowers on bass. Carrying the funk and the soul in equal care and hitting the rock beat such that it will hit you straight in the chest and drag you out of the seat and onto your feet! A consummate professional and gifted with the ability to connect soul to work and make music in the bridge, Tod is great fun to experience live!
More recently I had the chance to see Davy on tour with the Band of Friends. A band that is touring and paying tribute to the great Rory Gallagher. Teamed up with Mike Hansen (who stepped in after the recent tragic loss of Ted McKenna earlier this year) and the bassist for Rory Gallagher, Gerry McAvoy, the band are a force to be reckoned with. HIgh energy and smooth transition, it is an evening of phenomenal music at a pace that holds you in that bubble of time where all other sense of time passes away. Quite simply the night went by way too quickly. I would have gladly stayed in that spot listening for hours.
They started out by saying they were going to do a single set and get through a lot of music, and they weren’t lying. They plowed through a catalog of phenomenal music with a professional and seamless transition from one to the next, but never once did it feel forced or rushed. it was a purely organic experience and a translation of how our lives move from one moment to the next without a break, so too can music carry on that pace.
I walked away reaffirmed in my belief of Davy Knowles being one of the top guitarists of a generation and that I will permanently have him on my list of must see musicians.
Gerry McAvoy hasn’t lost a step either. Full of energy and mirth, he kept the crowd engaged and at one point made at trip into the audience to make sure that everyone was experiencing the fun and music to the fullest. Putting down that bass and stepping into the crowd he truly showed a passion for the music and for a desire that everyone feel and experience it to the fullest.
Working with Davy and Gerry was Mike Hansen, who only recently stepped in to join the band, a first rate drummer and musician. It’s hard to imagine that these three hadn’t already been playing together for years. His commitment and energy for the tour and the music is testament to how passionate artists can come together and make magic seem as though it has been there all along.
Do NOT miss Band of Friends with Davy Knowles. I very nearly cancelled all of my other concert plans for the weekend to just get to experience them again. It was a win win choice at the time, and I promise you I will be there the very next time I get the opportunity to attend!
I am looking greatly towards the next chance I have to see this amazing group of musicians together in the area again! Make sure you’re stalking their tour schedule right along with me so you don’t miss your chance for some absolute world class Blues!
(None other than Johnny A sat in at the end of the show and it was pure wonderment and joy!)
*This review was not solicited by the musicians or venue.