The answer to those first two questions is … well, a definite maybe, but if a young, hot-shit blues-rock trio out of the Isle Of Man called Back Door Slam has its way, that day is already here. As for Knowles, he appreciates the comparisons between he and Gallagher, but it’s a little early for that, seeing as how he’s only 20 years old.
“Well, it’s so flattering, but it’s strange isn’t it to be compared to those people who defined the genre when really I’m just playing music that I enjoyed listening to and trying to do to the best of my abilities,” says Knowles. Humbly, he continues, “But, it’s never t going to touch what a John Mayall, or a Rory Gallagher or an Eric Clapton or a Jimi Hendrix has done.”
Knowles may not be ready for deification as the next guitar god, but Back Door Slam is causing quite a stir in blues circles, and beyond. When Knowles and I chatted, Back Door Slam was in New York City wrapping up an appearance on the CBS Morning Show. The band is out promoting its debut CD, Roll Away, out now on the indie imprint Bix Street Records.
Flashes of Stevie Ray Vaughan can be found in the smoldering fires of “Come Home,” the first single, and “Heavy On My Mind,” but while there’s certainly a contemporary feel to Roll Away, Back Door Slam — rounded out by bassist Adam Jones and drummer Ross Doyle — display a reverence and deep appreciation for not only the British blues-rock icons of the past, but also the American originators like Robert Johnson and others.
Expect bigger and better things from Knowles in the future, as the upstart guitar hero incorporates more English folk and American soul and R&B into the band’s work.
To hear my interview with the fleet-fingered Knowles, also the band’s main songwriter, go to www.goldmine.com and click on podcasts.
A sparkling new release that’s caught my ear recently is Nik Freitas’ Sun Down, a piece of warm, wistful Beatlesque pop – think 1967-69, not 64-65 — that envelopes your ears like a fuzzy blanket and puts you in a psychedelic reverie.
Due out April 6 on Team Love Records, echoes of Paul McCartney’s light-hearted personality and Simon and Garfunkel’s folky nostalgia can be heard in the title track, “It Ain’t Like That” and the sly “See Me There,” and the record is full of gentle hooks, breezy vocal harmonies, golden acoustic guitar and rich piano textures. A storyteller of no mean ability, as the protest tome “All The Way Down” and the cautionary tale “Sophie” attest, Freitas played every instrument on Sun Down, and the care that comes with that sort of ownership is felt in every note. A magnificent achievement.