Writing and Photos by Ray Proetto of BluesPowerPhoto
As a blues writer and photographer living in Central Florida, my local friends have not been exposed to one of my favorite bands. Blue Mother Tupelo has a standing gig each year at the Juke Joint Festival in Clarksdale Mississippi.
Held the second weekend in April, it’s a special event with intimate performances from over one hundred blues acts! Blue Mother Tupelo plays Friday night at the Delta Amusement Café. Each year they put on one of the best performances at the festival! Learn more about the Festival here.
What kind of a band is Blue Mother Tupelo?
Not one that easily fits into the clearly defined genres promoted by the record industry. You could say they are a Blues band, a Country band, a Rock band, even a Gospel band. They are not strictly any of these categories yet all of these at once.
Blue Mother Tupelo consists of the husband and wife team of Ricky and Micol Davis. They are long on substance and short on flash. The couple always dresses casually with Jeans or overalls and a shirt as their usual fashion. Ricky sports a derby cap and a blondish beard. Micol has long reddish hair and is the epitome of the beautiful blue eyed flower child.
They typically perform as a duo although they have been known to play with a drummer and other musicians at times. They share the vocal duties with Ricky playing acoustic guitar and acoustic hollow body steel guitar. Micol plays tambourines most of the time and occasionally sits at the keyboard for some of their quieter numbers. Have I given you the impression a Blue Mother Tupelo show is a mellow civilized affair? Nothing could be further from the truth.
Hard Driving Soulful Blues with Backyard Country Flair
This is the best descriptive phrase I could create to describe Blue Mother Tupelo. Their shows are anything but mellow. With just guitar and tambourine (some might call that an instrument and a half), their shows explode with power and energy more than most bands with four or more musicians.
How do they accomplish this?
With few exceptions during their live shows, each song builds slowly and then explodes with guitar driven power and passionate vocals. The drive of the band flows primarily through the high octane energy of Ricky Davis’ rhythm guitar playing. His playing sets the tone and feel of each song in such a way that you would follow him to hell and back.
Lucky for us, his jet propelled rhythms are not his only talent on guitar. Ricky Davis can play hard driving rockers, gentle finger picking, slide guitar and jam with the best of them. I especially appreciate his slide guitar playing which helps the band achieve its bluesy feel. Ricky Davis says blues are at the core of all their music.
The other unique characteristic of this band is their impressive use of vocal skills. Ricky and Micol’s use of vocal harmonies are exceptional as they weave through a song together and separate their voices at crucial moments to complement each other. It’s a joy to watch their chemistry as they turn each song into a personal statement.
As effectively as Ricky uses his guitar to build and launch the intensity of their songs, their vocals are just as crucial in achieving the anticipation and explosion of energy so common in their music.
Don’t let Ricky and Micol’s appearance fool you. This is not your typical modern country band. Their live shows include beautiful harmonies, blues powered rockers, straight up blues, a capella gospel, and back yard country fun.
Pick up their CDs and you can add psychedelic electric guitar solos to the list. I thoroughly enjoy their CDs but by now you understand why this is one band you want to hear live. Click on this link to read the story of their 2013 performance at the Juke Joint festival.