Davina & The Vagabonds
Since exploding onto the scene in 2005, Davina and the Vagabonds have grown from a down-and-dirty blues band into one of the most exciting acoustic ensembles on the international stage. This high-energy quintet has established itself with a stellar live show, a professional look, and good old-fashioned hard work. In recent years they have performed in 45 states, 2 Canadian provinces and 12 European countries.
With influences ranging from Fats Domino and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band to Aretha Franklin and Tom Waits, the band draws from the last 100 years of American music, and is converting audiences one show at a time. 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.
For several years the band has been on the road more than they are home in the Twin Cities, but when they are home, they can be found at the Dakota! One of the keys to Davina’s success is the band’s irresistible live show; when the idea for a live record was presented, the Dakota became the obvious choice to do it at. Davina and the Vagabonds’ latest record, Nicollet and 10th, was recorded over two nights in early 2015 here at the Dakota. Like its predecessors, 2014’s Sunshine and 2011’s Black Cloud, Nicollet and 10th is the latest chapter in Davina and the Vagabonds’ New Spin on an Old Sound mission!
What Other People Have Been Saying…
“She purrs and growls, whispers and wails. Sweet and seductive one moment, she’s in your face the next, and then she makes you laugh. Her voice is a complex, expressive, flexible instrument made of sugar and grit.” – Pamela Espeland, MinnPost
“Davina Sowers is a one-of-a-kind performer whose singing… has a sassiness bearing some comparison to that of heart-thumping blues queens Ma Rainey and Ida Cox.” – Downbeat
“There is a timeless quality about this band that sets them apart from the masses but, perhaps more than anything else, there is an honesty here that is refreshing beyond belief. This band loves what they do and they do it well.” – Bill Wilson, Reflections in Blue
“Two things remain consistent at all her shows though: her throaty but cushiony voice, which has a sort of hard-mattress 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, Star Tribune
“Davina Sowers’ classically trained right fingers shimmy down the piano keys and meet up with an insistent boogie-woogie bass. Then she reveals her other musical talent: a sassy, salty, sweet voice that’s childlike at the top, husky at the bottom.”
– NPR / Marc Silver 2011 “Song of The Day” Choice song LipstickandChrome
“(Davina and The Vagabonds) They dare to be different.Davina zips to near impossible heights in a divine declaration of romance”
-DOWNBEAT MAGAZINE Frank John Hadley 2011
“From the churning emotion of Billie Holiday to Amy Winehouse by way of Etta James!” – NEWCASTLE EVENING CHRONICLE(UK) Alan Nichol / Sept 2011
“I cannot believe that Davina’s vocals will remain ‘un-heard’ for much longer, she has a unique talent that has Blues & Jazz crossover opportunities.”
– BLUES MATTERS MAGAZINE /Adrian Blacklee Sept 2011
“ Think of a meld of Bessie Smith, Etta James, Alberta Adams and Amy Winehouse, and you come close to understanding what Davina Sowers is all about…Davina is
a real talent who deserves greater exposure – and I have no option but to highly recommend this band.”
– BLUES IN BRITAIN /Mick Rainsford (Rating 10)
Powered by Julie Cymek’s sultry, commanding vocals and electrifying stage presence, Sweet Leda has taken the diverse mid-Atlantic music scene by storm as one of the most exciting live acts on the rise. Lou Plaia (co-founder of Reverbnation) describes them as “the highlight of every festival they play.” With its rich blend of new school funk, psychedelic rock, soul and pop, Sweet Leda’s heartfelt original music can best be described as a female-fronted, soul-based, Zeppelin meets Chili Peppers!
Sweet Leda’s sophomore album Let It In captures the live and raw essence of what can only come from years of steady gigs, blood, sweat, and a few tears. To capture this essence, the band recorded all together in one room, tracking analog to 2” tape. What came out of the process is an intimate, in-your-face, edgy sound that exemplifies Sweet Leda live, and at their best. Let It In was recorded and engineered at WrightWay in Baltimore by IRKO (Jay-Z, J Lo, Pitbull, Talib Kweli), mastered by Brian Lucey (Black Keys, Arctic Monkeys, Beck, Dr John), and produced by Sweet Leda’s very own “fifth Beatle,” Stephen Joseph Antonelli, who also produced and recorded the band’s first album, Need The Music.
Among the band’s many milestone achievements are: five Tri State Indie Music Awards, including the Groupie’s Choice Award; Best Emerging Artist DC/Baltimore in The Deli Magazine’s reader’s poll; opening for artists like Galactic, 311, Jefferson Starship, and Butch Trucks with Oteil Burbridge and Luther Dickinson; performing at festivals with the likes of Citizen Cope, G Love, Cake, Live, Lake Street Dive, and Tedeschi Trucks; song placements in feature films and TV in the US and the UK; and repeat performances at the “world’s largest music fest” - Summerfest in Milwaukee, WI.
Sweet Leda regularly features tenor-saxophonist Ron Holloway who is listed in the Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz where veteran jazz critic Ira Gitler described Holloway as a “bear-down-hard-bopper who can blow authentic R&B and croon a ballad with warm, blue feeling.” Holloway has worked with the likes of Susan Tedeschi, Dizzy Gillespie, Gil Scott-Heron, Little Feat, and Root Boy Slim. He is currently a member of The Warren Haynes Band in addition to fronting the Ron Holloway Band.
Warning: Sweet Leda’s music is known to have caused multiple pregnancies. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!