Davy Knowles performs at Space in Evanston for a packed room of fans, friends, and family in his final show before becoming a married man.
NRR has caught Davy Knowles at a number of shows and he has been touring relentlessly in both the US and overseas in support of his excellent album Three Miles From Avalon which was released in 2016. Not one to rest on his laurels, he also recently released an EP named 1932 (so-called because the songs are all played on his 1932 National Triolian guitar). The EP was recorded in a remote cabin with Davy’s friend and engineer Anthony Gravino and, as a result, has an extremely intimate feel to it. This feeling is amplified by the inclusion of songs such as “Watchmakers Blues” an instrumental track, penned by Davy’s dad.
With Space filled to capacity, Davy and the band picked their way through the audience from the back of the room, stepped onto the stage and thoroughly entertained every last person in the room for two hours.
The setlist contained songs from right across Davy’s back catalog and showed off the incredible talents of not only Davy but the whole band. The non-stop touring has clearly benefited the band and has molded them into an incredibly tight outfit. On stage, they look like a gang of friends who are just having a great time playing music together. Everyone is given room to play and take their share of the spotlight. Andrew Toombs, in particular, takes some spectacular solos on “Coming Up for Air” (almost launching his keyboard from its perch at one point) and on Muddy Waters’ “Garbage Man Blues”, which had some great call and response between him and Davy.
Throughout the entire set, Marvin Little and Michael Caskey provide a rock solid foundation, driving proceedings along whilst anticipating every move of both Davy and Andrew allowing them the freedom to wander where the song calls for it. The whole band also make great use of dynamics throughout the night, often dropping the volume to whisper-quiet before either playing a song out or building to a crescendo.
Not much additional can be said about Davy that hasn’t already been covered in previous reviews. He is a genuine virtuoso, making some of the most intricate guitar work look effortless. His playing crosses boundaries in respect of what you would expect to hear in a typical blues format. It is not uncommon for him to start a solo in a traditional, slow and soulful style before building to fast runs involving really interesting / outside of the box note choices more typical to players such as Joe Satriani. The real genius of what he does, however, is to always make his playing serve the song in such a way that it never sounds out of place.
Davy’s voice is as strong as ever and he continues to use it to great effect, imbuing real feeling into every song. This is particularly evident on “Amber’s Song” which he tells the audience he used to woo his soon-to-be wife when he first saw her in Buddy Guy’s Legends club a number of years ago (despite the fact, he notes, that it is actually a break-up song!).
As the night closes with a great cover of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s “Almost Cut My Hair” a delighted audience file slowly out knowing that they’ve just seen something extremely special.
Once he has taken care of his upcoming nuptials, Davy and the band will be back on the road. Make sure you visit the Tour tab on his website as you definitely don’t want to miss them when they roll through your town.
Photos by Kirstine Walton
Event Date: 23-SEP-2017