DAVY KNOWLES: A MANNISH BOY BURSTS FROM THE ISLE OF MAN

davy

The Isle Of Man, located in the middle of the Irish Sea between Britain and Ireland and just below Scotland, is not a place where you’d really expect the next potential king of blues guitar to hail from.

Yeah, the Bee Gees were born there, so there is an iota of musical heritage, but after that, it’s certainly not a mecca of fame.

 But regardless of it’s remote location, music still made it’s way there like anywhere else, and about a dozen years ago when “Sultans of Swing” wafted through the car speakers and into the ears of an 11 year old, it sparked what could possibly become one of the most illustrious blues-guitar driven careers ever.

 “My Dad played it for me in the car and I got home and I asked my Dad to show it to me on the guitar, “says 22 year old blues prodigy Davy Knowles. “I mean, as soon as we got home. It completely and utterly blew my mind, it still does.”

 Well, whatever Mark Knopfler did for Davy Knowles that day, it was the catalyst of a talent that some critics say with time may even reach the level of the greats; names like Stevie Ray Vaughan have been bandied about, or as one critic put it after seeing him play, “I saw the spirit of Jimi Hendrix tonight.”

 Knowles’ staggeringly brilliant talents on the guitar, as well as a memorable blues-fueled voice that evokes many more miles traveled than a 23 year old might normally put forth, have gotten him rave reviews since his debut on the scene in 2003.

 Since then, he and his band Back Door Slam (taken from a song from one of his blues heroes, Robert Cray) have toured with rock greats, established a dedicated following, and just recently, they released Coming Up For Air, a collection of accessible yet grittily bluesy songs that will undoubtedly help Knowles reach an even bigger audience. Knowles and BDS are just now hitting the road on a headlining tour after a successful opening act run for the hard rock supergroup Chickenfoot, with a stop at the Birchmere in Alexandria on August 25th.         

 So with all the guitar styles he could master, why the blues?

 “It’s the freedom it gives you,” Knowles told me by phone recently. “There’s also something about being able to put your own stamp on something that I really love. It’s such a wide genre, and from a guitarist’s point of view there’s so much you can do. There’s a lot of room to express yourself within it. You just keep throwing our own ingredients into it. It’s always been evolving and adapting.”

 Knowles’ latest record was produced by the legendary Peter Frampton, who has called Knowles “the gunslinger guitarist of the 21st century”, a major kudo considering peers like Derek Trucks, John Frusciante, John Mayer and the great Warren Haynes are out there wailing, too.

 Frampton and Knowles became fast friends during the recording process (Knowles calls Frampton “a lovely man and mentor”), and it was while recording the George Harrison-penned tune “Hear Me Lord” that Knowles felt the profundity of where he sits in his young career, playing and recording next to Frampton.

 “We were sitting in the overdub studio and he’s got his acoustic guitar and I’ve got mine, and we’re just about to go through doing an acoustic take, and Peter looks over at me and he goes, ‘You know Davy, 30 years ago I was sitting in a studio kinda like this, with a guitar kinda like this, and where you sat…was George Harrison, and we were doing the acoustic tracks to this song.’ And I look over at him, and say “Peter, how the hell do you expect me to play after THAT? You coulda told me afterwards!’ Gosh, it was wonderful.”

 And what about those comparisons to the greats like Stevie Ray and Hendrix?

 “It’s a really flattering thing. but it’s completely crazy. It’s really nice and they could be saying a lot worse things, but I found it weird. Those are the guys…damn, they’re the reason I’m playing. That’s a really strange kind of concept.”

 Get used to it, Davy.

http://www.davyknowles.com

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