Band of Friends: A Celebration of Rory Gallagher Embarks on Midwest and East Coast Dates
"He would have wanted the show to go on," Band of Friends bassist Gerry McAvoy laments about the passing of his lifelong friend and drummer, Ted McKenna. The two men had crisscrossed the globe together for decades playing high octane blues-rock at clubs, theaters, and festivals before McKenna passed away due to complications from a routine surgery he elected to undergo on his down time between tours.
The award-winning trio Band of Friends: A Celebration of Rory Gallagher will embark on a series of Midwest and East Coast dates March 7-30, marking their third US tour in less than a year. A highly-influential Irish blues-rock legend listed 57th on Rolling Stone's list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time," Gallagher's legacy will once again be honored live on stage by his former bassist Gerry McAvoy (bass) and blues-folk-rock prodigy Davy Knowles(guitar, vocals), this time with drummer Mike Hansen (Lance Lopez, Steve Vai, Albert Lee) filling in for the mighty Ted McKenna (Gallagher's former drummer).
Knowles initially teamed up with Band of Friends back in April of 2018 for the trio's first-ever U.S. tour. His addition as frontman has drawn unanimous critical praise, and Knowles was extremely well-received by the American audiences and Gallagher fans who'd waited for years to see Band of Friends live on this side of the Atlantic. The tour was well received that group came back for a run of packed West Coast dates in the fall.
Band of Friends' renowned live show-which includes Gallagher favorites such as "Bullfrog Blues," "Moonchild," "A Million Miles Away" and "Overnight Bag," to name a few-has long garnered numerous accolades in the UK and Europe, including the 2013 European Blues Award for Best Band, the 2015 European Blues Award for Best Musician (McKenna) and the 2016 Dutch Blues Award for Best Guitarist (Marcel Scherpenzeel, Band of Friends' guitar player and singer for the majority of their EU dates).
"Make no mistake, this is not a tribute act," says McAvoy, a native of Belfast who worked with Gallagher for 20 years from 1971 to 1991, and played bass on all 14 of his solo albums. McAvoy has also played with Deep Joy and Nine Below Zero, and has released a pair of his own solo records. His critically-acclaimed 2005 memoir, Riding Shotgun, details his career and life on the road with Gallagher.
"This band is a celebration of Rory's life and music, performed by those who knew him personally and worked alongside him professionally," McAvoy continues. "And we've been extremely fortunate to be accompanied by some of the world's top guitarists-players like Davy [Knowles] who came up listening to Rory and studying every last detail of his singular style. That said, the interpretations of the material can be quite spontaneous and unique to whomever is playing in Band of Friends on a given night. It's not a note-for-note replica of Rory's material or concerts from decades past, but his influence and spirit is omnipresent in everything we do."
Growing up in Cork, Gallagher rose to prominence as a teen in the mid-1960s as the frontman for Taste, a popular Irish blues-rock and R&B trio that regularly shared the stage with legendary contemporaries like Cream, Jimi Hendrix, The Who and Yes, and toured North America with British supergroup Blind Faith. He would later turn down offers to join The Rolling Stones and Deep Purple to in favor of a solo career.
Emerging as one of Ireland's top music icons alongside Van Morrison and Thin Lizzy's Phil Lynott, Gallagher became a beloved international folk hero whose electrified blend of Chicago and Delta blues, scintillating slide work and earnest songwriting style led to over 30 million albums sold worldwide. With both Taste and his solo bands, Gallagher earned a reputation for delivering high-energy, marathon live sets. Boasting seemingly effortless command of his instrument, he was voted Melody Maker's #1 guitarist in 1972 over Eric Clapton, who once credited Gallagher for getting him "back into the blues."
Sadly, Gallagher passed away in 1995 at the age of 47, leaving in his wake countless guitarists who were inspired by his incendiary playing, workmanlike aesthetic and humble, no-nonsense approach to the music business-including high-profile names like Brian May, TheEdge, Johnny Marr, Slash, Joe Bonamassa and, of course, Davy Knowles.
It has been a pleasure and an education to be playing every night with Gerry and Ted," says the 31-year-old Knowles, who shares many of Gallagher's principal traits-including being a down-to-earth, self-taught virtuoso and devoted student of the blues. "I grew up listening to those two on Rory's records, and to be playing his music and celebrating it with them is an absolute honor."
Hailing from the Isle of Man, Knowles relocated to America a decade ago, shortly after garnering acclaim as the frontman for buzzworthy blues rock band Back Door Slam, and performing at major US festivals like SXSW, Coachella and Bonnaro. Knowles' debut solo album Coming Up for Air soared to number 2 on the Billboard Blues Album Charts in 2009, and his third solo album, Three Miles from Avalon reached number 5 in the first week of its release in 2016.
Knowles has been praised by guitar authorities ranging from Joe Satriani, who described him as his "new favorite modern-day bluesman," to Peter Frampton, who dubbed him "the gunslinger guitarist of the 21st century." He has toured with a number of rock and blues heavyweights, including Frampton, Bonamassa, Jeff Beck, Buddy Guy, Warren Haynes,George Thorogood, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Who, and the Sammy Hagar/Joe Satriani-led supergroup Chickenfoot.
Watching a Band of Friends show, one instantly senses how well Knowles fits right in, not just musically, but personally as well. About their decision to push forward with the tour, Gerry said "After the tragic loss of our dear friend and colleague, I talked with Davy about the March 2019 tour. After much deliberation, we decided to go ahead with the tour. I know this is what Ted would have wanted."
Band of Friends - March 2019 American Tour Itinerary:
03/07 Newport, KY @ The Southgate House Revival
03/08 Auburn Hills, MI @ Callahan's Music Hall
03/09 Auburn Hills, MI @ Callahan's Music Hall
03/10 Geneseo, NY @ Geneseo Riviera
03/12 New York, NY @ City Winery
03/13 New York, NY @ City Winery
03/14 Sellersville, PA @ Sellersville Theater
03/15 Washington, DC @ City Winery
03/16 Bay Shore, NY @ Boulton Center For The Arts
03/20 Pawling, NY @ Daryl's House Club
03/21 Natick, MA @ The Center For The Arts in Natick
03/22 Fall River, MA @ Narrows Center For The Arts
03/23 Fairfield, CT @ StageOne at FTC
03/24 Northampton, MA @ Iron Horse Music Hall
03/26 Richmond, VA @ Richmond Music Hall
03/28 Charleston, SC @ The Charleston Pour House
03/29 Charlotte, NC @ The Jazz Room @ The Stage Door Theater
03/30 Decatur, GA @ The Vista Room