The Next Great Blues-Rock Guitarist…

…goes by the name of Davy Knowles. Where’d we discover this? Why, at the Herndon Festival in Herndon, VA, of course. An unlikely location, sure, but the town actually gets a lot of props for booking some great musical talent, starting with Knowles, who headlined Friday night.

He comes from the Isle of Man off the coast of England, but now lives in Chicago, where he took up with his band, Back Door Slam. And I will say, that at only 23 years old, he belongs on the same continuum as the great white blues-rock guitarists like Robin Trower, Warren Haynes and Joe Bonamassa. You could tell from the tone of the first note he hit, of Cream’s “Outside Woman Blues.” (He’d also cover the Allman’s “You Don’t Love Me,” CSNY’s “Almost Cut My Hair” and Rory Gallagher’s “Walk on Hot Coals.”) But his own material, from two released discs, was very well received, as he demonstrated a good ear for hooks and melody, and a capable blues shout. He’s a virtuoso player, coaxing nearly every sound possible out of his PRS over the two hours. That might also relate to his greatest weakness at this point, however: a lack of restraint. He’d pepper each song with a blistering three-minute solo (sometimes more than one). He might benefit from increasing his band to a four-piece to take a bit of pressure off of himself to solo all the time.

He doesn’t lack for showmanship, however. It was delightful to see the crowd swell from about 400 to start (including a lot of people, like myself, who had seen him guest with Gov’t Mule) to about 1,000 as the set ended. Clearly they knew they were seeing something special. And surely seeing it for the last time at the Herndon Fest.

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