Davina and the Vagabonds return to Central Lakes College
The Central Lakes Community Performing Arts Center presents Davina and the Vagabonds on Saturday, Sept. 17, for two performances. The Twin Cities-based musical group’s influences include Fats Domino and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band to Aretha Franklin and Tom Waits.
BRAINERD — Davina Sowers-Lozier said she had a rough childhood. But she channels her life experiences into her music.
The Altoona, Pennsylvania, native has been on her own since she was 15 years old. The 42-year-old now resides in south Minneapolis and has found success as a singer.
“I kind of was raised by the world, I guess,” Sowers-Lozier said of her upbringing. “I backpacked and I kind of grew up different than other people. I just kind of had a rough upbringing and left really young and then just became a pretty heavy drug user when I was really young.”
Davina and the Vagabonds will perform at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17, at the Chalberg Theatre at the Brainerd campus of Central Lakes College.
“They’re a tremendous band and were very popular when they last performed here," said Joey Yow, director of the Central Lakes College Performing Arts Center.
The Central Lakes Community Performing Arts Center presents Davina and the Vagabonds as part of the college’s Cultural Arts Series and is supported by a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Five Wings Art Council.
“Davina Sowers creates her own Americana mishmash — a little Amy Winehouse-worthy neo-soul here, a little Great American Songbook-influenced songcraft there,” according to Rolling Stone.
“I've always done music,” Sowers-Lozier said. “That's always been a part of me since I was a kid. I did have a mother who was really musical and so I stole all of her records. … And so I just kind of absorbed music at a really young age.”
The Vagabonds are composed of her husband Zack Lozier (trumpet), Connor McRae Hammergren (drums), Matt Hanzelka (trombone) and Graydon Peterson (bass).
“I met a musician that was from Minneapolis when I lived in Key West and then I took a Greyhound bus to Minneapolis from Key West … and then I just started the band with a bass player that I had, and just hit the ground running and never looked back,” Sowers-Lozier said.
The group’s 2014 release “Sunshine” charted at No. 13 on the Billboard Blues Chart, and the single "I Would Rather Drink Muddy Water" peaked at No. 21 on the Billboard Blues Digital Songs.
“I am a ham, for sure, and I love to perform, and as a child I loved to perform,” Sowers-Lozier said.
Rolling Stone wrote of the band’s music: “ … this is bluesy, old-school lounge music with a 21st-century twist, led by a frontwoman whose voice and vigor have earned the Vagabonds quite a following overseas.”
Sowers-Lozier said, “I think I listened to Led Zeppelin for, like, three years straight. It got me into the English blues and things like that, which then transferred onto real Americana music. … They definitely took a lot of Black American music and, you know, changed it into rock ‘n’ roll.”
An earlier album by Davina and the Vagabonds called “Black Cloud” was released in 2011 and was named by the Minneapolis Star Tribune as one of the 10 best releases of that year.
“Blues, jazz, soul, swing, rhythm and blues — it’s hard to pin down the sound of Davina Sowers and the Vagabonds, but however you describe it, it has to be experienced,” according to a news release.
Sowers-Lozier said of her music, “It's honest and it comes from the heart, and I make sure that people feel every word and every note. … I think I've always wanted to be a conduit of feelings.”
With influences ranging from Fats Domino and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band to Aretha Franklin and Tom Waits, “the band is converting audiences one show at a time,” according to the news release.
The group created a stir on the national music scene with their high-energy live shows, level A musicianship, sharp-dressed professionalism and Sowers-Lozier’s commanding stage presence, according to Yow, who was recently hired as director of the Central Lakes College Performing Arts Center.
Davina and the Vagabonds have performed before in the Brainerd lake area. Sowers-Lozier said she has fond memories of the community.
“The community was so loving and so open, and they were just so excited to have music that makes them feel good. …. You really do have an amazing community, and I feel like it's a hidden gem,” Sowers-Lozier said.
Tickets for the Saturday performances are $25 for adults and $15 for Central Lakes College students and guests under 18 years old. Doors open 30 minutes prior to showtimes.
For more information or reservations, visit www.clcperformingarts.com or call the box office at 218-855-8199. For more information about Davina and the Vagabonds, visit www.davinaandthevagabonds.com .