On performing with world-renowned blues musician Davy Knowles in his ‘Island Bound’ folk and roots project
It’s really not an overstatement to say that Davy Knowles — Joe Satriani’s “new favourite modern-day bluesman” — is a phenomenal musician. Davy grew up on the Isle of Man (indeed, we became friends at the same secondary school) and left the Island at the age of 19 to move to America and follow his dream of making music his career. He has since shared the stage with many of the lead names in the blues world.
Davy has, however, always been incredibly clear about his roots and where he grew up: on our island, Mannin veg veen. I remember him introducing me to the music of Richard Thompson and Martin Simpson when we were in our teens — there was a clear appreciation of the folk tradition, even if he did not play traditional music himself. But that’s all changed – at least, the not-playing-trad part! An ‘Island of Culture’ Ambassador, Davy has spent the past six months retracing his traditional Manx music roots and making a documentary of his experience along the way with local production company DAM Productions. The documentary, entitled ‘Island Bound’, takes him not only to the Isle of Man, but also to Sheffield to interview Martin Simpson, to the heart of Appalachia to trace the progression of Celtic music and to the Smokey Mountains in Tennessee. As part of Island Bound, Davy has been writing new songs influenced by the folk tradition, performing these alongside some of his other songs in a stripped back, acoustic style.
Davy presented these new songs at the opening night of Yn Chruinnaght Festival 2014 at St. German’s Cathedral, and I was delighted to have been asked by him to sing and play flute along with well-known Manx traditional musicians Adam Rhodes (bazouki), David Kilgallon (piano, fiddle) and Katie Lawrence (fiddle). We also performed at Noa Bakehouse on Sunday 20th July to a buzzing, packed-out audience.
‘Island Bound’, is set to have its first preview at the Isle of Man Film Festival in September. Silver-screen here we come!