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An Interview with Davina and the Vagabonds - Davina Sowers (03.11.17)

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DAVINA AND THE VAGABONDS diverges from the mainstream and leads fans down a magical musical highway that is fresh, edgy, and adventurous.  Definitely a show not to be missed!


DAVINA AND THE VAGABONDS may be one of the most incredible touring bands on the planet today.  Their sound is unlike any you have ever heard – a thoughtful combination of jazz, blues, and folk infused with smooth gospel undertones.  Their recent show at The Mint (one of Los Angeles’s most iconic nightclubs) was simply breathtaking.  From the very first note to the final encore, the capacity crowd was magically transported back to the French Quarter for an amazing night of music and fellowship that challenged the mind yet engaged the senses.  The band, consisting of Davina Sowers (Vocals), Zack Lozier (Trumpet), Steve Rogness (Trombone), Connor McRae (Drums) and Matt Blake (Upright Bass) absolutely slayed their hour and a half set with Vagabond classics that span their entire catalog as well as covers by legends such as Etta James, Fats Waller, and Chuck Berry (whom I consider to be the father of rock and roll).  And in a world where most live music is over-produced, commercialized, and sometimes even lip-synced, Davina takes you back to a time when performing live was truly unique and powerful experience.  DAVINA AND THE VAGABONDS diverges from the mainstream and leads fans down a magical musical highway that is fresh, edgy, and adventurous.  Definitely a show not to be missed!

After the show, Hunnypot Unlimited’s Matthew Belter had a chance to sit down with singer/songwriter Davina Sowers.  She shares some amazing insight into her start in music, her influences, along with a ton of exclusive insight that you won’t read anywhere else.

Davina Sowers Interview - Let's Get Started...

Matthew:  Good afternoon Davina, my name is Matthew Belter, Editor at Large for Hunnypot Radio here in Los Angeles, CA.  First off, I wanted to thank you in advance for taking time out of your extremely busy schedule this afternoon to join me in what we call the “Hot Tub”. It’s truly an honor to be speaking to you today.

Davina: My pleasure!   

Matthew:  Your show on Saturday was my first time seeing DAVINA AND THE VAGABONDS live, and I had an absolute blast.  Your music was super cool and something completely different than the music I typically listen to.  Quite frankly it blew me away from start to finish. So, I just wanted to thank you and the band for your amazing show at The Mint. 

Davina: Aww thanks. Thanks, that's awesome.  That makes me happy that we do something different.  It's not really planned, but it's great that it's a little refreshing for people.

On Her Start in Music...

Matthew:  Let’s get rolling - Tell our listeners how you got started in music?

Davina: You know, I think it had a lot to do with my mom.  She was a folk singer and loved music. She wanted a career in music, but then got pregnant with my brother and me and we ruined it for her. I stole all her records - Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, when I was seven (I’m not talking teenager here). She remarried to someone who was considerably older than her and I never had a dad. I'm not saying these things to be deep, but this is literally what happened. He was born in 1902, so the songs that were popular when he was a young adult he still loved. That was his jam. I grew up listening to these songs on his Edison, which is one of those wind-up record players and listened to 78's.

Matthew:  Very cool story – I bet you wish you still had all those 78’s? 

Davina: I still do, along with his Edison and a Victor Victrola too.  I also have a gramophone and still listen to a lot of those 78's.

Matthew:  Aside from your family, what were your musical influences growing up?

Davina:  I grew up initially listening to his pop music, but went through various stages throughout my youth. My brother was really into industrial music like MINISTRY and FRONT 242 and had this huge, massive collection.  I just fell in love with that music.  I knew what I loved and I loved what l loved and that is what happened. I am also a huge JOY DIVISION fan.  What came out of it all was this band. Not that we cover FRONT 242 or MINISTRY or SKINNY PUPPY, but I think it's given me the edge and the angst to make our music not as square as it could be.

On Performing On Stage For The Very First Time...

Matthew:  What was it like performing on stage for the very first time?

Davina: Growing up, I literally sang in front of everybody. I was the kid that got made fun of all the time for going up on the stage and singing in front of my lunch class in elementary school. My mom put me in every possible talent show because I always loved to sing. I always loved to be a ham; always. I've been doing little things like that since I was six growing up in Altoona, Pennsylvania.   Even there I would sing in a coffee shop with friends when I was a teenager on up and then started singing in bars with friends when I was a young adult.  Shortly thereafter, I began doing those open jams where I learned a couple of 12 bars and would go up and sing the blues. That was when I was 20. I'm 30, now but I can't remember a time in my life when I wasn't singing in front of people. I just loved singing on stage.

Matthew:  What was the music scene like back in the Twin Cities when you started out in 2006?

Davina:  There's so many different music scenes there, so many different sectors. There's blues sector, a jazz sector, there's also a huge hip hop scene.  I was drawn to the blues sector for some reason.  People were supportive of me within the blues community, but I didn’t have a huge following, so I literally had to work my ass off.  I think by the second year we were doing over 200 gigs just in the Twin Cities / Metro area alone. The scene in Minneapolis and St. Paul is massive, and It's insane how much music comes out of there.  There are so many different genres and scenes within the area.   And on top of that, we have so much time to be creative because it's freezing most of the time. 

Matthew:  Sounds like an incredible music scene (aside from the chilly weather).  Never would have known that being from Southern California but absolutely sounds like a place that music lovers should visit.

Davina: It just blows my mind.  Everybody's very welcoming and very kind, too. Massive music in the twin cities. Just massive.   

On Her Many Musical Influences... 

Matthew:  Who were some of your early influences that helped shape the singer/songwriter you are today?

Davina: The covers that we do are very Fats Domino, Fats Waller piano driven rock and roll and piano driven stride. I'm a huge Professor Longhair, Doctor John fan. Fats Waller is my ultimate hero. I love Fats Waller and Fats Domino.   Of course, the basics of jazz like Thelonious Monk and Duke Ellington.  Earl Gardner was one my favorites, too. He's amazing.  There's tons of piano. Vocally, I don't know, maybe Melanie Safka.  She was my first influence.  I'm also a huge Robert Plant fan.  He probably taught me how to sing in my Toyota Tercel listening to LED ZEPPELIN I, II and III for four straight years.  I also a huge fan Wilko and Jeff Tweedy, their amazing song writers.  Gospel wise, Mahalia Jackson.  She is simply amazing.  I think it's all the stuff I listened to growing up and still listen to that continues to influence me.

Matthew:  As we wrap up an amazing interview with Davina Sowers, do we have time a few rapid-fire questions from a couple of our Hunnypot listeners?             

Davina:  You bet!

On Movements Near And Dear to Davina...

Matthew:  Are there any charitable causes or movements that are near and dear to your heart right now?

Davina: Well, I'm a recovering addict, so that’s huge to me. I try to involve myself as much as can when I have the time, especially addiction in women and teenagers. That's a huge thing to me. It's a huge thing for to me to try and help, spread the word, and smash the stigma of it. Not to get heavy, but it's an important thing for me personally because I think people find it hard to have hope when they are suffering. They don't see that they have obvious redeemable qualities. They don’t see a way to get out of it (and rehabilitate from it) and I'm living proof that you can.  And I’m not talking pot smoking in junior high, I’m talking straight up heroin addiction for over a decade.  Rehabilitation can happen.  I'm passionate that people get the correct treatment and that people around them get the correct education to better understand it. That's huge to me.

Matthew:  Amazing Davina.  Definitely a testimonial to who you are as a person and the amazing transformation you have made in your own unique journey.  

Any additional insights you might be able to offer our listeners?

Davina: I get so sad and upset when people are ignorant toward addiction. Everybody has it in their family. Everybody. Everybody. There's not one human being that I can go up to and they can say, "My aunt, my uncle, my brother, my sister, my dad, my mom, my grandparent." Somebody in their family has that debilitating disease.  Anyway, it's nice when I can use my platform to share my story and give others hope.  I've been clean for over a decade now and know others can do the same given right information along with the appropriate support from friends and loved ones.

Matthew:  What was the last movie that you saw?

Davina: I'm a huge documentary fan. The last one I watched was about the dangers of owning a Victorian home (may not be terribly interesting to most but super interesting to me). I'm a huge Victorian and Edwardian collector, just gadgets and weird stuff. But I go down the YouTube wormhole and I watch documentaries all the time about everything.

Davina's Favorite Vagabond Song...

Matthew:  One last question.  What’s your “favorite” Vagabond song? You probably get asked it all the time, but would like to know which song you personally hold in high regard?

Davina: Oh, my goodness. I don't get this all the time. I have been asked this, but not all the time.  It’s a really, really hard question to answer. I like all of them (because I've written and arranged all of the songs), but one of my favorites is “St. Michael Vs. The Devil”. I don't know if you heard that one, but it’s a fun one to do live.  Lots of interaction between me and the other guys in the band (a lot of call and response and that's a lot of fun).  It’s a dark song, and I'm a dark hearted person. I know it may not seem that way on stage, but I love minor songs and I love storytelling that's creepy. That's my jam. St. Michael is like that. It's a fun story. It's fun to watch people smile and be in awe of the call and response between me and the horns.

Interview Wrap-up...

Matthew:  On behalf of Hunnypot Radio and all our listeners, I once again would like to thank  Davina Sowers of DAVINA AND THE VAGABONDS for taking the time to join us in the “Hot Tub” today! 

Davina:  It was my pleasure. Thank you and Hunnypot for helping me spread the word regarding our band.  It's a huge thing for me, and I really appreciate it.


DAVINA AND THE VAGABONDS are currently on tour across the U.S and will be traveling to Europe for a series of shows beginning in late spring.  To learn more and/or buy tickets, click HERE


Matthew Belter

Executive Editor - Long Beach

Website: Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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