Davina and The Vagabonds Delivered A Powerful Performance
I go to concerts to see bands with which I am unfamiliar and am almost always pleasantly surprised. Every once in a while, however, an unknown band completely blows my mind.
That was the case this week when The Extended Play Sessions presented Minneapolis-based Davina and The Vagabonds. Several days later, I am still shaking my head in amazement at the energy in the room that night.
I met Davina in the parking lot on my way into the studio and immediately knew she was going to be extremely entertaining. Davina exudes warmth, humor, and emotion – yes, I got that after talking with her for five minutes!
The band plays “blues, roots, New Orleans, Americana music” according to drummer (and megaphone singer) Connor McRae Hammergren, but the reality is that they have a unique style, comprising much more than those genres, that I have never heard until this night. The music is piano-driven but Davina is happy to let the horns section take over the music.
In addition to Connor, the band members are Davina Sowers on vocals and piano; Dan Eikmeier on trumpet and vocals; Ben Link on trombone and vocals; and newest member Greg Byers on upright bass.
They took the stage dressed to the nines – the men sporting dark suits and ties, and Davina wearing a black dress with a wonderful red knitted/crocheted ‘crown’ on her head. This set the mood for some old-timey music that at times sounded similar to Fats Waller or Professor Longhair.
Not all the songs sounded like they came from the early part of the 20th century, however. There was a little bit of Jerry Lee Lewis in Davina’s animated performance. The reality, though, is that I shouldn’t compare Davina and the Vagabonds to anyone else because their music is one-of-a-kind.
The band released ‘Sunshine’ earlier this year and ‘Black Cloud’ in 2011, but the set consisted of many original songs from that earlier release. They also played a terrific version of ‘St. James’ Infirmary’; I have heard many bands play it (including Preservation Hall Jazz Band performing two different versions back to back) and The Vagabonds’ version measures well against the others.
Some of the songs I particularly enjoyed were ‘Black Cloud’ and ‘Pocket’, but I truly enjoyed every song they performed. Davina writes most of the songs and sings lead almost all the time. Dan took the lead on one song and Ben had an extended solo on another. Connor performed a solo through a small megaphone that was awesome! Too bad he was at the back of the stage for that!
Some of the words that came to mind as they were performing – joy, power, energy, bliss, emotion – describe the performance but don’t really do justice to it. I know both the band and the audience felt all that and more.
They are all expressive performers and let us all feel that they were having a blast playing for us. I’m not sure who had a better experience, the band or the audience.
It was probably equal… Go see this band if you get a chance. They tour a lot – I believe Davina said 200 days this year – so there’s a good chance they will appear at a venue near you. I doubt you’ll be disappointed.
Posted on November 14, 2014, in concert reviews, music, Uncategorized and tagged Alternate Root TV, Americana, Ben Link, boston, concert review, Connor McRae, Dan Eikmeier, Davina and The Vagabonds, Davina Sowers, Extended Play Session, Greg Byers, music, old-timey music. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.
oh man I’m so sorry I missed this one
It was an excellent session!
Did anyone there video this?
Yes Martin! All sessions at Alternate Root TV are recorded for a documentary that will air on a Roku network (and put on YouTube as well). For now, you can see one video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBNf_nuGdxc . Subscribe to AlternateRoot1 (EP – The Extended Play Sessions) and you’ll know when more videos are published. Enjoy!
Fun!, Thank you.