Band of the Week: Davina & the Vagabonds

Concert Preview

MEET THE BAND: Davina Lozier (vocals, piano), Andrew Gillespie (drums), Zack Lozier (trumpet, vocals), Steve Rogness (trombone, vocals), Brian Patavic (bassist)

A VAGABOND LIFESTYLE: Lozier grew up in "economically depressed" Altoona, Pennsylvania, a heavy railroad city.  She listened to Crosby, Stills and Nash, Seals and Croft, Melanie, Joan Baez and Judy Collins while growing up. Her mother also introduced her to Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. She says the Mamas and the Papas really taught her how to harmonize. Because her father, who was born in 1902, listened to Fats Waller and "eerie turn-of-the-century music," she developed an affinity for pre-war jazz and early country music. "I also listened to punk rock and bands like Bauhaus, Sisters of Mercy and the Cure and Joy Division," Lozier says. "My brother was into industrial rock, so I listened to Skinny Puppy and Front 242. As a result, I have all this ridiculousness going on in my head when it comes to music. Being in Altoona, I don't even know what people were listening to and that's why I left." After leaving there at age 15, she backpacked the U.S. and didn't have a stable home until she moved to Minnesota about 15 years ago. "I spent most of my teens traveling the U.S. and causing havoc everywhere I went," she says.

DOWN WITH DIXIELAND: Eventually, Lozier was drawn to Dixieland jazz and music from New Orleans. The horn players in her band are very rooted in New Orleans music. With 2011's Black Cloud, that side of the band's sound came into its own. "That's the first album where I became a songwriter and vocalist," Lozier says when asked about the disc. "I settled into who I was. That album was the beginning of who I am. I'm not a blues band. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but that wasn't my goal. I think I proved that with Black Cloud." Lozier used vintage equipment to record her next album, 2014's Sunshine. That album kicks off with the woozy title track, a piano-based tune that benefits from a spirited horn section. Lozier sounds a bit like the late Amy Winehouse on the song as she capably croons, "I ain't got the time." 

WHY YOU SHOULD HEAR THEM: Drawing from New Orleans jazz, Memphis soul and musical theater, the group defies categorization on its latest album, Nicollet and Tenth. With its woozy horns, "Knock Me a Kiss" sounds like it came from another era, and the raucous "I'd Rather Drink Muddy Water" shows how hard the band can rock. "I wanted to record a live album because we're known as a live band, and I'm known as being a ham and a performance person," says Lozier. "I wanted to come out with an album that has that type of energy." The group recorded the disc at the Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis, where it played two nights and then picked the best songs from the two shows. Lozier says the band is currently working on a new album, which is half done. Her husband is mixing it, and it'll be the first record that Lozier hasn't self-released. "It'll be nice to have a team behind the record," she says. "It's been just me pounding the pavement, and the dirt isn't tasting so great. Hopefully, it will start tasting better."


WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM: Davina & the Vagabonds perform with Get Hep Swing at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, June 22, at the Music Box Supper Club.

About The Author

Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected]
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