For 20 years, Ricky and Micol Davis have performed as Blue Mother Tupelo, a duo performing a mélange of Southern-fried blues, jazz and country soul. When the confines of Nashville became too restrictive for their big sound, the Davises began traversing the Southeast and beyond with their homegrown sounds. Blue Mother Tupelo’s Azalea City fans have not seen them in quite some time, so they’ll be returning with new tracks (one co-written with Will Kimbrough) from their latest album, “Only Sunshine.” Ricky told Lagniappe the pair are excited about bringing their new material to Mobile.
Centanni: You two used to be pretty regular performers in Mobile, and it’s been quite some time since you’ve been here. How does it feel to be returning?
Ricky Davis: It feels great. We love Mobile, and it’s one of our favorite places.
Centanni: You’ve been performing as Blue Mother Tupelo with your wife, Micol, for 20 years, about the same length of time you’ve been married. What’s the secret to not only band longevity, but also marital longevity?
Davis: Well, I don’t know exactly what the secret is. It just seems to work. I guess it’s just a blessing.
Centanni: You hail from Nashville and, as you know, that scene has definitely changed over the past decade. A lot of bands are embracing a ‘70s country soul/blues rock sound like Blue Mother Tupelo has had all along. What do you think about some of these new bands coming out of Nashville with that style?
Davis: To be honest with you, when I’m not recording my own stuff or writing my own music or performing live, I listen to some old jazz or old blues or maybe some Medeski, Martin & Wood.
Centanni: You’ve called your latest album, “Only Sunshine,” a “3-D” album. Could you elaborate on what you mean?
Davis: Sonically, it sounds like a 3-D album to me. When I listen to it, it sounds three-dimensional. Also, it’s soulful from the principle our songs come from and the different directions. It’s a reflection of life in general. Life is not one-dimensional. It’s three-dimensional. It’s a roller-coaster ride full of twists and turns and ups and downs.
Centanni: As far as the music that you and your wife write together, what’s the process? Do you work off of each other, or is it an individual process?
Davis: It’s all organic. Sometimes, I’ll go off and write a song by myself, or she’ll write a song by herself. Sometimes, one or the other of us will have a song started. I’ll hear her singing something, or she’ll hear me singing something. Then, we’ll get together and complete the song, because it sounded interesting and pulled me in or pulled her in.
Centanni: Your music has a lot of depth instrumentally and lyrically. Are the lyrics a group effort as well? Is it just as organic?
Davis: Yeah, it’s totally organic. As far as songwriting is concerned, neither of us is more lyrical than the other. We both come up with lyrical ideas and musical ideas. We don’t just sit down and start writing poetry. We have a tune in mind. Usually, there are some words that go along with it.
Centanni: You and Micol produced and recorded this one in your home studio. It’s one thing to perform on stage together and another to work in the studio. Do you do just as well in the studio as onstage?
Davis: I’ve actually produced everything that we’ve ever recorded. It’s a great experience and a growing experience with every single album. We record in our own studio, and we don’t have anybody stand over our shoulders and tell us what to do and what not to do. We go the directions that we’re pulled towards and where our soul leads us.
Centanni: What made you want to co-write so many songs on this album?
Davis: It just worked out that way. We got a publishing deal in Nashville and were under contract when we were working on this album. Among the songs that we’ve written with other people, they’re all songs that we liked. We thought that they worked well with the album. Every one of our albums is like a novel, and we’re trying to find all the chapters, which are the songs.
Centanni: You’ve got a hometown boy on your album. How did you cross paths with Will Kimbrough?
Davis: Our publisher knows him and thought it would be a good idea for us to connect and get together and write something. We’ve written three or four songs together. We’ve shared some shows him and Willie Sugarcapps as well. We love Will and what he’s doing with his organic approach to music.
Centanni: Is he going to drop by your show in Mobile?
Davis: Man, I hope he does. He’s invited to play any place and any time with us, definitely.
Centanni: What was the most appealing thing about working with Will as a co-songwriter?
Davis: We’ve sat down with several songwriters we don’t know, and and we didn’t really mesh creatively. I knew about Will’s music and that he toured around the same places we do and a little about his musical history. When we met, we had a mutual respect for each other. It was a comfortable fit. It felt like somebody who was right down our alley. He seems to come from the same place musically as we do. He doesn’t put boundaries around his music. He writes from his soul, and that’s what we do. We don’t worry about trends. When we’re not focused on the business, we’re 99 percent focused on the soulful side of music.
Centanni: What’s next for Blue Mother Tupelo?
Davis: We’re gonna keep on touring and writing new songs. We’ve got a whole bunch of new songs and are in the planning stages right now for our next album.
Blue Mother Tupelo
Date: Sunday, May 10 at 7 p.m.
Venue: Callaghan’s Irish Social Club, 916 Charleston St., www.callaghansirishsocialclub.com
Tickets: $7 at the door