Having been a firm favourite at the SummerTyne Americana festival back in 2014, Davina and the Vagabonds make a welcome return to the North East of England and the Sage Gateshead.

The five-piece outfit fronted by the delightful Davina Sowers hail from Twin Cities, Minnesota. Davina and the Vagabonds debut studio record Black Cloud, received critical acclaim as well as being named by the Minneapolis Star and Tribune as one of the ten best releases of the year. Subsequently, their follow-up record Sunshine led to an appearance on the prestigious BBC Later With Jools Holland television programme.

Davina and the Vagabonds have firmly established themselves as a live hit on the international touring circuit. The group have captured some of that live magic on their recent concert record Nicollet and Tenth, which was released earlier this year. The album affectionally takes its name from the location of the band’s beloved hometown jazz club the Dakota.

After a long day of travelling, Davina and the Vagabonds arrive at the Sage Gateshead for one of two shows in the UK as part of this current European run, with the other being in the capital.

Almost 24 hours since the tragic terror attack in Manchester, both the band and the concert goers in attendance arrive at the show this evening carrying a heavy heart.

Davina takes to the stage in a beautiful red and white dress with a red head scarf and heels and assumes her position behind the Steinway grand piano centre stage. After hugs from friends and fans at the front of the stage, Davina addresses the audience indicating that tonight is very much going to be a love-in.

Davina and the Vagabonds start the top of the show with a superb cover of Louis Jordan’s “Knock Me a Kiss”, fan favourite “Black Cloud” and the feel-good number “Sunshine”. Davina is often compared to greats like Billie Holiday and Amy Winehouse, and as her beautiful vocals fill this acoustically perfect room at the Sage Gateshead it’s easy to understand why.

The band’s distinctive brand of Americana transports the audience to the southern USA and in particular, New Orleans whilst conjuring up images of the region’s treasured Preservation Hall Jazz Band with the likes of “Bourbon Street Parade”, their take on Fat’s Waller’s love song “Louisiana Fairy Tale” to which drummer Connor McRae assumes lead vocals and “Louisiana I.A”. Song after song is greeted with rapturous cheers and adulation.

With a new studio album in the pipeline, the band takes the opportunity to both preview and road test a few of their newest songs. Some of these tracks are so fresh, that some of the band members noticeably discuss and digest the songs after they are performed. These include the likes of the jazzy blues breakup number “Good Night” along with the slow and sultry “Sugar Drops”.

Having recently tied the knot with her husband and trumpet player Zack Lozier, the happy couple proudly shows off their wedding rings, whilst merrily singing Beyonce’s “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)”. Subsequently, Zack takes front and centre whilst belting through some good old Louisiana throw down music.

Davina closes out her main set with one final new song which we believe is titled “Go On”. The track is a deeply emotional number to which Sowers sinks both her heart and soul into her performance, she is accompanied by double bass and drums only and leaves the stage visibly moved.

Returning to the room for a duly deserved encore, Davina and the Vagabonds perform a sublime rendition of “St Michael vs The Devil” following a request from a member of the audience. As the band break the number down, Davina goes to battle with trombone player Steve Rogness, challenging him to mimic her vocal acrobatics, a challenge he willfully accepts and to which he gives his all.

Throughout the course of the Davina and the Vagabond’s 90-minute set, the room is filled with love, feverish dancing, music, laughter and a few tears too, and that is definitely what the world needed on this sombre day. Davina and the Vagabonds continue to both embrace and keep traditional jazz and blues alive. We look forward to more of what is to come from this incredible band as they prepare to release their new studio record.

Davina And The Vagabonds
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Event Date: 23-MAY-2017

About The Author

Adam Kennedy is an experienced music photographer based in northeast England. He has been shooting concerts for several years, predominantly with the band Vintage Trouble. In 2013, he was one of their tour photographers, covering the UK and Ireland tour including the headline shows and as opening act for The Who. As an accomplished concert photographer, Adam's work has been featured in print such as, Classic Rock Blues Magazine, Guitarist Magazine, Blues in Britain magazine, broadcast on the MDA Telethon on ABC Television in the US, used in billboard advertising for Renaissance Hotels in the US, and featured online via music blogs such as Uber Rock and Guitar Planet. He is also the official photographer at Newcastle Rock and Blues Club.

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