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Davina & the Vagabonds Bring Modern Take on Blues, Jazz to State Theatre

Davina and the Vagabonds bring a fresh spin to an old sound. (Submitted photo)

ZUMBROTA — A high-energy quintet whose lead vocalist has been likened to Adele, Bessie Smith, Etta James and Amy Winehouse, Davina & the Vagabonds bring their fresh-but-retro sound to the State Theatre stage at 7:30 p.m., Sat., Feb. 4. The show is sponsored by Crossings.

Davina Sowers and the Vagabonds have created a stir on the national blues scene with their high-energy live shows, sharp-dressed professionalism, and Sowers' commanding stage presence. 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, from Vancouver to Miami and across Europe. The band's "Black Cloud," was named one of the 10 best releases of the year by the Minneapolis Star & Tribune for 2011. In 2012 the band performed in 21 states and six countries in Europe.

So much more than just a blues act, DATV's shows are filled with New Orleans charm, Memphis soul swagger, dark theatrical moments that evoke Kurt Weill, and tender gospel passages. Davina has been compared to Etta James, Amy Winehouse, Janis Joplin, Billie Holiday and Betty Boop, but comparisons don't suffice: Sowers is a true original.

Something unique to this "blues" project is the instrumentation. This rollicking quintet is held together by Sowers' keyboard playing, with acoustic bass, drums, and a spicy trumpet and trombone horn section. The group's focused, clean sound and emphasis on acoustic instruments is novel to both blues and jazz worlds, and sets the show closer to New Orleans than to Chicago. This has set the Vagabonds apart at blues festivals in Thunder Bay, Ontario; Sighisoara, Romania; Sierre, Switzerland; Kemi, Finland; and 2012's New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

Tickets are $20 in advance, $23 day of show. To reserve tickets, visit www.crossingsatcarnegie.com, stop in to Crossings at 320 East Avenue in Zumbrota or call 507-732-7616.

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