Davina and the Vagabonds Broadway Center Review - 2017
Friday evening lasted too long. Peg and I were playing Trivia at Immanuel Presbyterian Church helping to raise money for their volunteers to travel to Guatemala where they will build houses and drill wells. Most of our normal Friday night dinner friends were in attendance. Our friend Pat Flynn, the only member of Immanuel Presbyterian wasn't there with us. There were ten categories and ten rounds of ten questions. We got home much later than my normal bedtime. I rousted Peg out of bed at 7:30 Saturday morning.
Peg was off to see Beauty and the Beast, the new Disney offering. It was an all female group going. Daughter-in-law Johanna, her sister Rachel and her daughter, and Johanna's daughters Vanessa, Darron, Bella, and Sophia. They enjoyed the movie and then went to lunch. Peg got home late in the afternoon, but just in time for a two hour nap.
After the nap we were off to dinner. A quick bite at Malarkey's Pool Hall. It was our lucky day. We found a parking space directly across the street (very unusual). We place our orders, read The Tacoma Weekly and The Stranger, and looked at the sculptures. They are a little strange, but then, we like strange.
We ordered a French Dip Sandwich, and a Biscuits and Gravy with Texas Toast substituted for the biscuits.
As we waited, the waitress worked on a blackboard with colored chalk . . . and then reworked the chalkboard before she finally stood it up for people to see. The blackboard was advertising a special on Prime Rib.
I was a little miffed. If I knew prime rib was on the night's menu I might have ordered it. I like a good prime rib. As it was, I think we dodged a bullet. At Christmas we ordered a cooked prime rib that only needed to be warmed up in the oven. I didn't read the directions well enough and ended up with over-cooked prime rib. We threw it away. I think that prime rib would have been better than what was being offered at Malarkey's.
The prime rib was delivered along with baked potatoes and asparagus from elsewhere. The end of the roast had been sliced off revealing a pretty dry looking serving waiting for some poor schnook. Beyond that initial slice, the prime rib had every piece sliced and ready to serve. The roast was sitting in the juices that should have still been in the meat. As we drove away we nibbled on a brownie that was probably much more moist than the roast. Too bad!
Our good luck held. As we drove downtown we found an open parking space just thirty feet shy of 9th. We parked, read a little bit and then walked over to the Pantages and their "will call" window for our tickets to Davina and the Vagabonds. When we bought the tickets we didn't realize they were for Theatre on the Square (the old home of Tacoma Actors Guild). We also didn't realize that Immanuel Presbyterian was a sponsor of the night's entertainment.
Although the crowd were all strangers, they did look familiar because of the recent trivia event. Most were seniors . . . or about to become seniors, which brings up a sore subject. I knew we had aisle seats. Most people should be aware of where they are sitting, so why are the people that sit in the middle of a row, the last to arrive and be seated? I always choose an aisle seat if possible because of my long legs and sometimes I have to stretch them out. The two people in front of us were seniors who could barely walk (each had two canes). When late arrivers came for seats in their row as the lights went down, the lady had to struggle up from her seat and step aside, while her husband could only swivel slightly to give them passage. One small group were lead to their seats twenty minutes into the program.
Each member of Davina and the Vagabonds was unique. The most striking was Connor McRae Hammergren on drums. He either was so big he dwarfed his equipment or he had the tiniest drum kit I've ever seen. Zack Lozier played a mean trumpet. Matt Blake, the only male member wearing a sport jacket instead of a vest, thumped the stand up bass. Steve Rogness on trombone was the primary vocalist on "Bourbon Street Parade," which was my favorite member. I would have loved to have heard my friend Ed Ulman play the trombone with Steve. The star of the show on vocals and piano was Davina.
"Davina Sowers and the Vagabonds have created a stir on the national music scene with their high-energy live shows, level A musicianship, sharp-dressed professionalism, and Sowers’ commanding stage presence. With influences ranging from Fats Domino and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band to Aretha Franklin and Tom Waits, the band is converting audiences one show at a time, from Vancouver to Miami and across Europe."
With her coal black hair and tattoos, Davina Sowers reminds me of Danielle Colby from American Pickers.
Although I would have expected Davina to play on an electric keyboard, she was playing on what I am guessing is an antique concert grand piano. I couldn't get up on stage to check the name, but from the legs and the basic look I'm guessing in was a Chickering. Jonas Chickering was the first piano manufacturer in America. Chickering was established in 1823 in Boston. The image shows an 1865 Chickering rosewood concert grand. We used to have an 1865 square grand that was originally shipped via schooner to the west coast. My mom bought it for me because Liberace supposedly once considered buying it.
Before forming Davina and the Vagabonds, which is based in the Minneapolis area, she was a busker on the beaches of Florida. Cary Grant was a busker on the streets of London, so she is in good company. Busking is the act of performing in public places for tips. I never mind dropping money into open instrument cases when entertainers play on local streets. Successful buskers have to attract your attention, and Davina does that. She write and performs. She plays her voice like an instrument.
After we left the theater and headed back to our car we passed the stone sculpture outside the Pantages. One of them had a small blinking light addition that proclaimed "South Sound Proud." There is currently a a guerrilla marketing campaign spreading feel-good sentiments, “Live like the mountain is out” and "South Sound Proud." We love it.
Peg and I like art that shows up where you least expect it. We first saw stencils on the sidewalk outside the old Radio Shack store at North 26th and Proctor (see the insert image).
What's next? We heard that Immanuel Presbyterian is sponsoring a presentation by local authors reading sections of their plays. I think it's called Hands Up? We would love to attend that event, also.