REVIEW: Back Door Slam – April 3rd – The Soiled Dove Underground, Denver, CO

The Scene: The Soiled Dove Underground is a like walking into an upscale New York City jazz club in the heart of Lowry here in Denver. That’s right . . . in Lowry. The tiered seating, waitress notification lights and illuminated table numbers are a nice touch but make a slightly sterile room to hear gut wrenching blues in.

The crowd was a varied group of blues fans, from the tied-dyed and dredded hippies, to the button down office dads, every walk of life was represented in the intimate space. The space is layed out in such a way that those who want to sit in their assigned seats can do so with a clear and unobstructed view of the stage, while those who want to move up front and dance their asses off can do that too.

Overall the venue is perfect for the neighborhood, a kid friendly bedroom community of largely 30 and 40 somethings.

Back Door Slam: Wow. That’s basically all I can say. This was one impressive young band. They hail from the Isle of Man in the UK and their music is right up there with the best of the 60’s and 70’s blues bands like John Mayall’s Bluebreakers or even Cream. Maybe these boys were born in the wrong decade.

Only in his early 20’s, frontman Davey Knowles absolutely rips on his electric guitar and conjuers up images of Clapton and Hendrix as the blues course through his body and into his able fingers. Throughout the set the band played numerous originals culled from their recent release Roll Away and highlighted the set with just the right number of covers including John Hiatt’s “Riding with the King,” David Crosby’s “Almost Cut My Hair,” and Robert Cray’s “Back Door Slam” from which the band took their name. I each case these youngsters stayed true to the original but seemed to push the intensity up a level.

While Knowles is undeniablely an unbelieveable guitarist and one of the best I have ever seen in person, his strong heartfelt vocals cannot be overlooked. This kid is capable of reaching deep into his soul and summoning the voice of a middle aged black man from the deep south. It is a stirring sight to watch. That, coupled with his viruosic ability on the guitar and his comfortable stage banter, makes him a force to be reckoned with that we will be hearing from for year.

The only shortcoming of the this band is the complete lack of stage presence and interest exhibited by the Drummer (Ross Doyle) and Bassist (Adam Jones). While very able musicians, both seem to be totally bored with what they are doing and it that brings the intensity of the show down a little bit. It would have been a much stronger show if the rhythm section made any kind of effort at all to engage the crowd thought eye contact, body language or both. I think Knowles will need to give his bandmates a lesson in charisma or move on. He has too much talent to be brought down by the rest of the band.

Back Door Slam restored my faith in a brand of music that I had largely left for dead. There simply aren’t enough young bands that sound like this. With their blend of Allman Brothersesque rock and Clapton influenced old school blues, they are poised to win over a huge following of all ages.

Energy: A-
Sound: A
Musicianship: A
Stage Presence: B
Set/Light Show: A-

Overall: A-

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Who Is Timothy Dwenger

Music has always been a part of my life. It probably all started listening to old Grateful Dead, Peter Paul & Mary, and Simon & Garfunkel records that my parents had, but it wasn't long before they were taking me to concerts like Starship, Crosby, Stills & Nash, and Huey Lewis & The News. I got the bug to write about music after reviewing an Eric Clapton concert for a creative writing project in high school but didn't really take it up seriously until 2002. Since then I have published countless articles in The Marquee Magazine and done some work for Jambase.com, SPIN Magazine, and various other outlets. I started Listen Up Denver! as a way to share the music information that is constantly spilling out of my head with people who care. Please enjoy!