North Country blues

Davina and the Vagabonds are taking on the Minneapolis blues scene

Davina Sowers and the Vagabond band members Connor Mcrae (drums), Michael Carvale (string bass), Darren Sterud (trombone), and Daniel Eikmeier (trumpet) play at Hell’s Kitchen Friday evening in Minneapolis.

Image by Erin Westover

Davina Sowers and the Vagabond band members Connor Mcrae (drums), Michael Carvale (string bass), Darren Sterud (trombone), and Daniel Eikmeier (trumpet) play at Hell’s Kitchen Friday evening in Minneapolis.

by Stephanie Nusser


Who: Davina and the Vagabonds

Where:Dakota Jazz Club, 1010 Nicollet

When:Nov. 25 7:00 PM, 26 8:00 PM


Scintillating chanteuse, Davina Sowers, is giving the Twin Cities the blues without letting them down. With her Vagabonds backing her up, Sowers gives a lot of soul âÄî and a lot of attitude. Put simply, this girl can wail.  

The blues and the economy have always maintained a parasitic relationship. When times are bad, people need the blues. And few give it to them as genuinely as Sowers.

âÄúI think, characteristically, things are kind of tough with money and the economy, so I feel that it definitely does help when people sing forlorn, oppression kinds of music,âÄù Sowers said.

SowersâÄôs style is extensive because of the wide variety of music she was brought up with. Everything from folk music, to 1920s big bands, to Led Zeppelin and The Cure is a part of her musical background.

 âÄúFolk music was a big thing, because my mother was a folk singer. I still stick to those roots of old time music, that I put, I think, a new spin on it. Just so it gives some back beat, some new kind of feel to it,âÄù Sowers said.  

As is standard blues protocol, Sowers has always been a rambler through and through. Originally from Altoona, Pennsylvania she has been all over the country. Even her journey to Minnesota was made in true vagabond fashion.

 âÄúI met [bassist] Michael [Carvale], in Florida when I was busking and I met him there when he was there with a band, Lamont Cranston, and then we literally, physically ran into each other. And then I moved [to Minneapolis] a week later,âÄù Sowers said.

Davina and the Vagabonds are making a name for themselves at the local, national and international levels. With a mini-tour out East coming up the first week of December, a tour of Romania in February and a new album, âÄúBlack Cloud,âÄù coming out in April, Sowers has kept busy. But she said she takes it in stride.

âÄúIt takes a sense of urgency business-wise, it takes creativity to keep things fresh, it takes a really good loyal group of family members in the band,âÄù Sowers said. âÄúThe Vagabonds are amazing, they just let me to execute anything I want and we allow them to [as well].âÄù

âÄúShe is pretty gracious when it comes to sharing a spotlight, unlike every other band IâÄôve been in. So, she wants us to sing and she wants us to put our tastes into the songs,âÄù bassist Carvale said.

Her wayward attitude comes out in her music and on stage. Her improvisation on the keys and her need to move to the music while she plays encourages the audience to dance with her, cry with her and fall in love with her.

âÄúI have that kind of feel of freedom and I feel very stifled when I donâÄôt have freedom. Just like I think everybody should feel,âÄù she said.

 âÄúYou have to work a lot of keep a good band. We just heard through the grapevine until we could search through the crazies. Now itâÄôs kind of come to where everybody is really happy, really excited, really eager and they feel blessed âÄî as they should feel, they are doing something creative,âÄù she added.

Creativity is one way to make it through these low times. Everyone goes through a period of Weltschmerz (the acceptance of sorrow found in life) and Davina and the Vagabonds have proven that they can work through their blues in an innovative and eclectic way.