Davina & the Vagabonds at George Square, Spiegeltent with their third visit to the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival bring once again classic blues and jazz sounds mixed in with new songs and all with a unique twist of originality to them that is Davina’s piano playing and vocals.
I saw Davina and the band playing last year’s festival, and they were on my “had to see again if coming back” list this year, and this time I think were even better. The change of venue to the perfectly suited for them Spiegeltent this year just gives Davina and her Vagabonds that great vintage setting to go with their vintage look...a look that Davina gets just right again.
How to describe Davina if you have not seen them...imagine the sounds of Fats Domino, Fats Waller and Big Mama Thornton getting fused together and you get some idea of what to expect. Davina and the Vagabonds are
Davina Sowers – Vocals/Piano
Zack Lozier – Trumpet/Vocals
Steve Rogness – Trombone/Vocals
Connor McRae Hammergren – Drums/Vocals
Matt Blake – Upright Bass
Opening the show with the Louis Jordan Classic “Knock Me A Kiss” set the tone for the rest of this ninety minute set as we were treated to some more classics including Bessie Smith’s “I Need A Little Sugar” and Fats Domino’s “Ain’t That a Shame” mixed in with original material - “Black Cloud”, “Sunshine” and “Red Shoes” to name a few.
Davina was on great vocal form (unbelievable actually considering she was not too well before flying over here) and piano form and the band were tight and sharp.
A few highlights in the show for me though. A great version of the jazz standard “St James Infirmary Blues” which so many people have covered over the years. A song that many claim traces its origins back to an 18th century English folk song “The Unfortunate Rake” – albeit with a completely different story.
Outstanding for the evening though, Davina’s take on the Etta James classic “I’d Rather Go Blind”. So many people have performed and recorded this song over the years, but surprisingly so few people seem to get it right and get that “soul” into it. Well Davina got it just right and this performance is up there with the great original version for me. A classic display of singing from the soul and not just singing the words.
Davina and the Vagabonds have shows every day until 24th July, so if there are still tickets available try and catch up with at least one
Davina and the band also have a new album out. More information on that and everything else they are doing at
Review by Tom King