Photo ©Grinkie Girl Photography/Christie Williams
Davina and the Vagabonds have created a stir on the national blues scene with their high-energy live shows, sharp-dressed professionalism, and Sowers’ commanding stage presence. With influences ranging from Fats Domino and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band to Aretha Franklin and Tom Waits, the band is converting audiences one show at a time, from Vancouver to Miami and across Europe. The band’s latest recording, Black Cloud, was named one of the 10 best releases of the year by the Minneapolis Star & Tribune. In 2012 the band performed in 21 states and 6 countries in Europe, and the band is hard at work on a new record, spending time in the studio between tours.
So much more than just a blues act, DATV’s shows are filled with New Orleans charm, Memphis soul swagger, dark theatrical moments that evoke Kurt Weill, and tender gospel passages. Davina’s voice and stage presence defy category in a different way. Davina has been compared to Etta James, Amy Winehouse, Janis Joplin, Billie Holiday and Betty Boop, but comparisons don’t suffice: Sowers is a true original.
Something unique to this “blues” project is the instrumentation. This rollicking quintet is held together by Sowers’ keyboard playing, with acoustic bass, drums, and a spicy trumpet and trombone horn section. The group’s focused, clean sound and emphasis on acoustic instruments is novel to both blues and jazz worlds, and sets the show closer to New Orleans than to Chicago. This has set the Vagabonds apart at blues festivals in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Sighisoara, Romania, Sierre, Switzerland, Kemi, Finland, and 2012’s New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
Davina and band made their debut at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 2012 and quickly became the talk as the "breakthrough" act of that year.
Davina Sowers hit the Midwest scene in February 2005 and she hasn't looked back. It didn't take her long after moving to Minnesota from Key West, Florida, to start making a name for herself. With great vocals and piano, she commands attention on stage and leaves everyone smiling. Davina has been performing since the age of five, with the support of an extremely musical family. Sowers, a classically-trained pianist, has years of experience in piano performance. She and her band made a big splash at Duluth's Bayfront Blues Festival in 2006 to 2008, having the highest sales in CDs all three years. She has been called the "hardest working blues woman in frigid Minnesota.”
Davina and the Vagabonds are known in The Twin Cities, Minnesota as being the busiest band in town because of their hard-working professionalism, high energy stage performance, and original sound. They have shared the stage with Pinetop Perkins, Aaron Neville, Gary Moore, Ten Years After, the Mannish Boys, Robert Cray, Los Lonely Boys, Scottie "Bones" Miller, Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, Ana Popovic, Booker T and the MGs, Bobby Rush, Irma Thomas, James Hunter, and many others.
“Listening to Davina & the Vagabonds is like stepping into a wondrous musical time machine. They have the panache and superlative musicianship to recreate the retro sound and ageless appeal of golden age Americana in high-definition reality on stage for your immense pleasure and enjoyment.” -- Ken Wright, Thunderbay Blues Festival
“Two things remain consistent in all her shows: her throaty, but cushiony voice, which has a sort of hardmattress comfort to it that's part Bonnie Raitt, part Etta James and a little Amy Winehouse; and her band's rollicking New Orleans flavor, driven home by dueling horn players and a bayou thick standup bass.” -- Chris Riemenschneider, Minneaoplis Star Tribune