An Article by Brenda Germany
Photos by Stephen Anderson
“When all things are kind of right – right mentally and right with the music, it’s a special thing to be able to share our songs. We want to be right in our heart about making the music, and when that’s happening, hopefully that energy is coming across. It’s a gift to be able to connect with people in this way. It’s a blessing,” Ricky and Micol Davis – Blue Mother Tupelo
While most artists relate their music to a particular genre, the music of Blue Mother Tupelo is a multi-layered diverse style with the elements of blues, gospel and country-rock as its source. Believing that everyone is blessed with a unique gift, they feel that songwriting is among those gifts. Rather than defining exactly who they are musically, they try to stay out of the way of the music, just letting it all flow freely. “We are only beholden to do the work of our hearts which, we hope, comes from the Divine Creator.” Ricky and Micol (pronounced Michael) Davis convey songs to their audiences of personal, life experiences with passion and intensity as deep as the Tennessee Appalachian woods from which they hail. Finely tuned harmonies incorporated with acoustic guitar, keyboard and percussion come together seamlessly in evidence of the duo’s commitment beyond music.
Top Photo: Blue Mother Tupelo at The Julep Room in Ocean Springs, MS (2017); above photo: Blue Mother Tupelo at the Live Oak Arts Festival in Pascagoula, MS (2015)
Both Micol’s and Ricky’s families contributed strong musical influences to their early lives. Ricky’s family of guitar players performed in rock, gospel and country bands in and around Knoxville, Tennessee. During his father’s band practice Ricky could often be found curled up in the bass drum listening to and observing them. He later played several different instruments in his own bands and in school. Micol, who grew up as a preacher’s daughter in a family that loved to sing and with a music-teacher great-grandmother who played the piano, began singing and picking out tunes on the church piano at four years old. School choirs, composition and a degree in music education rounded out her background while Ricky went on to pursue a degree in Recording Industry Management.
Shortly after marrying in 1994, Ricky and Micol began their musical life together at an open mic night at Sassy Ann’s in Knoxville, which proved to be the beginning of something special. Feeling that the names Ricky & Micol Davis might not attract those unfamiliar with their music, they decided a band name that was meaningful and reflected their truest musical characteristics was needed. “Our sound is an immense conglomeration of a variety of influences which are certainly southern … it entitles the listener to think, feel, sway, stomp, cry, rejoice, worship – many human things.” The name Blue Mother Tupelo was created from several sources; the blues heart of their music, Indianola, Mississippi (one of Micol’s childhood homes) and North Mississippi, around Tupelo, where several of her family once lived.
Inspirations for BMT’s songs come from everyday living. Ricky recalls having been awakened by songs in his dreams. One in particular, “Runnin’ ‘Round” (from their third album “Heaven & Earth”, 2009) came to him in a dream which took place at a concert of the STAX Memphis Soul duo Sam & Dave singing the song to an audience he was in. Occurring to him that it wasn’t even in his life’s era, he immediately sang it into a bedside tape recorder. Later that day, he checked all Sam & Dave’s STAX recordings, but they had never recorded or performed the song. “So, low & behold, the song was delivered to me by Sam & Dave!”
With five albums/EPs to their credit, the latest being “Sanctuary” (2018) and averaging around 200 live concerts a year, BMT tours primarily through the Southern and Midwestern United States, but also across the U.S.A. and abroad, appearing at festivals, concerts, clubs and house concerts. They’ve appeared with Leon Russell, Mindy Smith, T-Model Ford, Rodney Crowell, The North Mississippi Allstars, Willie Nelson, Robert Lockwood Jr., Tony Joe White, Miranda Lambert, Sonny Landreth, and Otha Turner’s Rising Star Fife and Drum Band, as well as PRI’s Mountain Stage lineup with Charlie Musselwhite, Blues legend Robert Lockwood, Jr. and Guster. BMT has been nominated several years in a row as “Best Acoustic Blues Act” and Micol as “Female Vocalist of the Year” by the Music City Blues Society in Nashville. Most recently (April 9, 2019), BMT joined and sang with their good friend, Mindy Smith, on the Grand Ole Opry stage; a long-held dream realized.
Regarding the future, Ricky reveals, “I hope & pray that the best is yet to come in our music career. Thankfully, we’ve had many personal highlights! My personal music dream is to always have a song to sing and play, to always write new songs that speak to souls, and to always make our living makin’ music.” As their song “Living the Good Life” (from “Only Sunshine”, 2014) states; “Living the good life, baby, you and me.”
Blue Mother Tupelo at the Live Oak Art Festival in Pascagoula, MS (2015)
Click Here for Blue Mother Tupelo’s official website.
1) puregrainaudio.com, Bruce Moore Jan 15, 2010
2) Michael Limnios Blues Network , February 1, 2013, blues.gr
3) The Daily Times, by Lee Zimmerman , May 17, 2018
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