Sunday night was another reminder of Roanoke’s good fortune that 2016 saw the return of The Spot on Kirk (formerly Kirk Avenue Music Hall). Davina and The Vagabonds brought the quaint listening room its first sold-out show since it reopened its doors nearly a year ago.
The jazz blues quintet out of Minnesota, gave a performance worthy of a sellout, and then some. Seated behind her keyboard, Davina Sowers wore a bright red turbin and matching lipstick, but it was her voice that demanded attention. Accompanied by her horn section (Zack Lozier on trumpet and Steve Rogness on trombone) to her left, and backed up with Matt Blake on double bass, and Connor McRae Hammergren on drums, the band looks like something out of a 1930s speakeasy.
The quintet opened with two playful New Orleans jazz numbers and swung through a wide range of songs that showcased each of the members insturmental skills. The songs featured lots of big brass solos, and had all the members singing in a call and response to “Down on Bourbon Street.” Everyone but the bass player took a turn singing lead, including the drummer, who sang “Louisiana Fairytale”, through a small megaphone giving the classic a very retro feel. Between songs, Davina charmed the audience with stories and shared her quirky sense of humor which was also evident in many of her original lyrics. Later in the show, the crowd was brought close to tears with an impassioned version of Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind”, as Sowers brought aching soul to each note.
The evening ended with the 1928 hit “Four or Five Times,” followed by an encore of Hank William’s “Hey, Good Lookin’,” garnering two standing ovations from the crowd and a hope that Davina and the Vagabonds would be back to our area very soon.
Stay tuned for more incredible performances coming up next month at The Spot. In the meantime, checkout this little video shot on Sunday night.