Davy Knowles Review Cottonmouth, July 1, 2023
Davy Knowles Review
Cottonmouth, July 1, 2023
Sometimes, it all comes together, and such as the case at Cottonmouth southern Soul Kitchen when Davy Knowles and his band came to town. And gave those in attendance a night to remember. This was one of the best shows I’ve seen!
Touring with Tod Bowles on bass, and Mark Hansen on drums, the band hit the stage at 8PM and performed a non-stop 2-hour set that left the audience standing and asking for more.
But before we get to the review of Davy’s show, Steve Arvey opened for Davy, and in typical Steve fashion, had the audience entertained with his wit, songs, and guitar playing. First starting with a cigar box guitar instrumental, Steve switched to his signature acoustic guitar for most of the one-hour set. Deftly using a stomp-box, Steve performed classic blues, and brought Deacon Gibson to the stage for harmonica playing. Steve entertained the audience, and solicited many laughs, with tales from his storied blues career. Make no mistake about it, while Steve is an entertainer, he is a serious musician with significant skills. These skills will be revisited later, as Steve ends his set playing a red Stratocaster that will be a central part of the show later in the evening.
Playing from many of his recordings, Davy and the band took the stage and set a high-energy tone with Ain’t Much of Nothin’ from his 2016 recording “Three Miles From Avalon”. Davy’s blistering guitar work was spot on and engaged the audience from the downbeat. Next up was Riverbed, first heard during Davy’s days with Back Door Slam. Completing a frenetic first three songs the band launched into Catch The Moon from 2015’s “The Outsider”. If any newcomers to a Davy Knowles show did not know his guitar talents, they understood after the first three songs.
The band, and the audience, needed to catch their breath, and next up was Devil and the Deep Blue Sea from the latest release, “What Happens Next”. To be sure, this song shows a different side of the band and is a well-crafted entertaining piece of music. Equally, entertaining if not downright spectacular was the bands treatment of Cream’s Outside Women Blues. This song featured a tight jam with the band complete with some amazing technical guitar work by Davy.
Changing guitars, Davy brought out the slide and demonstrated his significant skills with the slide while performing Ain’t No Grave, once again from “The Outsider”. Hell To Pay, from “What Happens Next” was a particular highlight, with Davy using dynamics to build and release emotions from the audience. Masterful.
Steve Arvey was brought to the stage and traded licks with Davy on Garbage Man, and following this song Steve took the vocal lead on a nice version of Ain’t Nobody’s Business. The band then surprised with a smoking version of the funky classic Fire On the Bayou, with Davy providing some of the hottest licks of the evening. But this surprise paled to what came next. For the first time in the evening, Davy showed his equally entertaining side of a storyteller. As expressed in my last article about Davy, he has a gift for storytelling and this art is part of the charm of a Davy Knowles performance.
Davy picked up Steve’s red Stratocaster, and proceeded to say that he just could not resist this opportunity. And then explained that when he started playing guitar he wanted to be like Mark Knopfler. And there it was: the band launched their version of the Dire Straits classic Sultans of Swing. As someone who has attended many shows at Cottonmouth, the ovation at the end of this song was among the loudest and most sustained I’ve witnessed in Bradenton’s Village of the Arts. The song was a tour de force from start to finish.
The audience was unrelenting with their applause and the band provided an encore of Wake Me Up When The Nightmare is Over. Sort of ironic because this evening of music provided joy and sweet dreams for the attendees, who witnessed a special night of music in Bradenton. This band, if they should so choose, is ready to take the next step to larger venues. They are that good.
- Scott Morris
- Photo’s by Jim Hartzell