After his induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 4th, Jeff Beck and his backing band did a quick tour of club dates across the country. Davy Knowles was selected as his opening act, which had to be as intimidating as being asked to make an appetizer for a meal made by Chef Gordon Ramsay. Of course, anyone aware of the young man’s talents won’t be surprised that he delivered some tasty audio treats.
Having seen him play electric twice in a trio and being awed each time, I was intrigued as Knowles walked out onto the El Rey stage alone with just an acoustic guitar. He was going to sing a song about a train crash but just as he started to strum he broke a string. Quickly exchanging guitars with his tech, he offered up Rory Gallagher’s “As The Crow Flies” with some blistering slide work. After the song and the applause ended, a woman shouted out that it was a good thing that string broke.
Stating it was inspired by legends Robert Johnson and Son House, Knowles offered up “Saving Myself,” a song off his upcoming album, which is being produced Peter Frampton. It’s got a great Delta blues sound and works so well acoustically I hope that if the song gets an electric arrangement for the album version, a copy of the unplugged version will show up as a B-side somewhere.
On John Hiatt’s “Slow Turning,” Knowles showed off the dexterity of his fingers as he worked the neck during the bridge. He then offered up the classic in my book “Come Home” from his first album and closed with a Leadbelly tune.
When the way-too-short 34-minute set ended, two men behind me cracked out their hand-held devices and began to google Knowles, making at least two more converts and I have no doubt there were others. Kudos go to the sound engineer who assisted in presenting a crisp and clear sound of Knowles and his guitar. That’s not always the case for opening acts.
I was surprised the Knowles wasn’t brought out to jam with Beck and the band. Joss Stone came out for Sly Stone’s “Higher” and John Mayer joined them for a rendition of Hendrix’s. Everyone’s loss.