Hailing from the Isle of Man, the tiny kingdom in the middle of the Irish Sea, might have posed a challenge to that childhood epiphany for a lesser talent. Instead, Davy just borrowed his father's acoustic guitar and painstakingly learned to play "Sultans of Swing" by ear.
As a teenager, he mined his father's record collection to learn all he could about 'the blues' and he discovered John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, Eric Clapton, Peter Green and Rory Gallagher, to name a few. Then I began reading guitar player magazines and started seeing who the people I was influenced by had listened to, which is how I learned about Blind Willie Johnson and Robert Johnson Davy explains.
He played in bands throughout his school years - usually as the "kid" among older players - and, ultimately, formed Back Door Slam with his school mates. The band's debut recording Roll Away, which featured Adam Jones on bass and Ross Doyle on drums, was released by Blix Street Records in June, 2007. Knowles wrote all but one of the tracks on the record, which became a Top 5 staple on Billboard's Blues chart.
Ironically, now young(er) guitar players are reading about him in the way he did about his heroes. Nick Anderman of the Village Voice wrote: "Davy Knowles, the lead singer, guitarist and songwriter, is talented like very few bluesmen these days. He shreds like a young Robert Cray and wails like the love of his life was just hit by a truck," while Shane Harrison of the Atlanta Journal Constitution said: "If this were a more just world, the band's startlingly talented guitarist, singer and songwriter Davy Knowles would already be a star."
Such acclaim continued as the band played clubs, concerts and festivals and shared billings with George Thorogood, Buddy Guy, Kid Rock & Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Who and the legendary jam band Gov't Mule. They also appeared on television's CBS Early Show and Jimmy Kimmel Live as well as on NPR's World Cafe and Voice of America's Border Crossings.
After parting company with his bandmates Jones and Doyle early this year, Knowles began to record the follow up to Roll Away. Scheduled for release by Blix Street this summer, the recording is produced by Grammy-winning singer-songwriter-guitarist Peter Frampton, who also features on the album.
Despite the thousands of miles he's already logged on the road - 300+ dates in 18months to support their debut CD in America - Davy's anxious to get back out there to play. "You should play music because you love doing it," he says, "If you can hang in for the long haul, you're doing what most people can't, and you're incredibly lucky."
He's begun to call America "home," but there's a hint of wistfulness when he speaks about the Isle of Man, a feeling addressed in the title song of Roll Away: "It's a beautiful place and I feel lucky to have grown up there - but you can't forget that there's also a world out there beyond it."
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