On the eve of his latest studio release “What Happens Next,” Davy Knowles served up a special sneak preview of the album to ‘hungry’ music fans in Pawling, NY on Thursday, October 21st. Daryl’s House, the nostalgic “dinner and a show” type venue, owned by Daryl Hall (of Hall & Oates fame), played host to the event.
Part cabin-in-the-woods, part rock history wax museum, part steakhouse, Daryl’s House is anything but a typical concert venue. Then again, Davy Knowles, the Isle of Man-born guitarist/singer/songwriter isn’t your typical musician. First making waves with his band ‘Back Door Slam’ in 2007, then releasing two subsequent solo albums, 2014’s ‘The Outsider’ and 2016’s ‘Three Miles From Avalon,’ Knowles made history by becoming the first musician to play live in space, beaming directly from Mission Control in Houston to the International Space Station.
Back on Earth, Davy has earned a reputation in recent years as one of the top blues guitar players to keep an eye on; honing his craft while on the road with music titans like of Jeff Beck, The Who, Buddy Guy, Warren Haynes and The Rhythm Devils to name just a few.
Taking the stage at Daryl’s House around 8pm with the smell of pork ribs, sauerkraut and calamari still permeating the air, most of the audience was still finishing their dinners when Davy Knowles gave them something to really sink their teeth into. Opening the show with the punchy rock riff of “Solid Ground” followed up by “Heavy On My Mind,” it was as if the mostly mature, well behaved crowd didn’t know what hit them. Nevertheless, Knowles, bass player Tod Bowers and drummer Jeremy Cunningham continued on with another new track, “One & the Same” before Davy uncorked his biggest guitar solo of the night thus far on the anthemic “Stand Your Ground.”
I’m so tired of pretending, second guessing myself. All this time I’ve been spending, pleasing somebody else.
Knowles then candidly addressed the room, saying how nice it’s been to play music to a live audience again, yet also nerve-wracking trying to remember how to play some of the older material. He then asked if everyone could say “hello” in unison to his family at home watching via Facebook live.
From there, the trio brought the energy level down to a true blues vibe with ones of the stand out tracks off the latest Knowles album, “Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” before ratcheting it back up with the title track off 2015’s The Outsider.
Standing in the shadow of a massive Jimi Hendrix print on the wall, you couldn’t help but draw the obvious comparisons between the two. Sure, there’s only one Jimi, but make no mistake about it: Davy Knowles is one hell of a talented guitar player. With tone for days and an effortless ability to work his fingers around the frets with blistering speed and confidence, bringing each solo to a jaw-dropping climax before returning to more familiar structure, never were his chops more on display than on the tune “Every Man For Himself.”
The well-balanced flow of the set all but dictated it was time for another blues number, and “Roll Me” hit the sweet spot just right. We then got the evenings only song off 2016’s Three Miles From Avalon, the foot stomping, hand clapping sing along “Oxford, MS,” which finally had the audience fully engaged in something other than finishing their food.
Now eating out of the palm of his hand, Knowles would then cook up something extra saucy with the riff-centric rocker, “Outside Woman Blues” before segueing nicely into the motivational “Work a Little Harder.” Finally, Davy would bring the entrée portion of the set to a close with a new song written during the height of the pandemic, “Wake Me Up When The Nightmare’s Over. ”
After walking off stage for a brief moment, Knowles returned to with only an acoustic guitar in hand. With that, he began sharing some personal reflections about what the last two years have been like for him. From getting married, to losing his beloved father, to the birth of his first child and wishing his dad was there to see it, there was a lot of real-life heaviness in a relatively short period of time for Knowles. The big reprieve for him, he says, was getting to spend so much quality time with his family and learning how to be a dad.
It was during that time he wrote the encore song “If I ever Meet My Maker,” the closing track of his latest album and easily the most introspective and emotional song of the evening. Never one to send the audience home on a downer, both Tod Bowers and drummer Jeremy Cunningham rejoined Knowles for one last song. Paying homage to one of his personal guitar heroes, Knowles closed the show with a cover of the Rory Gallagher classic “Take What I Want,” bringing the powerhouse performance to an end and for the first time all night, the seated audience to their feet in a standing ovation.
Afterwards, the hard-working and approachable Knowles and his bandmates could be seen talking with fans and posing for selfies with them before packing it up and getting on to the next town. After a brief run the mid-west, east coast fans will get several more chances to catch Davy Knowles before the end of the year, including November dates in Buffalo, Lima and New York City.
Davy Knowles – Daryl’s House – Pawling, NY – 10/21/2021
Setlist: Solid Ground, Heavy on My Mind, One & The Same, Stand Your Ground, Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, The Outsider, Light of the Moon, Every Man, Roll Me, Oxford MS, Outside Woman Blues, Work a Little Harder, Wake Me Up, When the Nightmare’s Over, If I Ever Meet My Maker, Take What I Want (Rory Gallagher cover)