Tupelo Honey is a unique folk rock band in the veins of Patty Griffin and the Indigo Girls. Full of harmonies, their eclectic blend of different types of music gives them a style that is all it's own.
Newcomers Tupelo Honey's talent and enthusiasm has quickly endeared them to the local music scene
Interview By DANIELE PFARR
A couple of weeks ago, Heather Turner and Katie Wefer packed their bags and left Fort Thomas, Ky., with only one goal: getting to Dallas. They were ready for any adventure along the way. While stopping underneath the Tupelo city sign in Mississippi to get their picture taken, a car pulled over and, in a friendly southern way, the guys in the car asked Heather and Katie if they were musicians. Of course the answer was "yes," and right there on the roadside in Tupelo, they entertained the group of guys with the guitars and voices that make up Tupelo Honey.
Turner and Wefer went to high school together and ended up crossing paths again in college. Tupelo Honey started out as therapy for them when they were both going through breakups. After teaching themselves how to play guitar, and getting some positive response from friends, the early-twentysomethings entered a talent competition at Austin City Saloon in Lexington, Ky. They sang "Sweet Child O' Mine" by Guns N' Roses and won $100. Another night, after coaxing from a friend, Heather played her guitar at a bar closing and the owner was impressed enough to offer the girls a full-night gig.
Throughout these first encounters with playing music in public, the girls were constantly reminded of their amateur status. During their first talent competition, they had the words written out and the sound guy had to push the microphone in front of Katie's mouth. Never in a million years did they think they would go further than cover songs and small talent competitions. Enter Kelly Thomas and the Rivertown Music Club.
In March, they got a chance to play at Thomas' monthly happy hour gig at the Courtyard Café and she noticed their potential instantly.
"They both have great voices and they harmonize really well," Thomas says. "They have a very organic sound in the vein of the Indigo Girls and Patty Griffin. Personally, I clicked with them instantly. They are good people and I love their wide-eyed enthusiasm for music."
Realizing that they needed to add some depth to their sound, a full band was sought -- the group now includes Stephen Anderson on bass, Daniel Peterson on drums, Kristen Shaw on violin and Kelly Gray on the bongo drum). After many pains, and what they refer to as "typical band drama," they got a chance to really tighten up.
"Right now we're just at a growing point," Wefer says. "We're only focusing now on what actually sounds the best, where before we just threw musicians in because we just needed to fill in our acoustic sound. Now we actually get to find the sound we want and work on it."
Since then, according to Wefer, it's snowballed. They've played in venues all over the city, and other local acts are becoming interested in their potential as well. After playing the Roots & Rock Festival In October, they were invited to take part in another festival that will be hosted by Sweet Ray Laurel. On Tuesdays in November they will be hosting a female-oriented night at the Poison Room. And at the start of the new year, they will take part in another female music series at the Southgate House where, with the help of Kelly Thomas, Kinsey Rose, Kristen Key, Jesse Thomas and Lauren Houston, monthly donations will be made to local charities that focus on women's issues. Turner takes this event especially to heart because her mother is a 10-year breast cancer survivor.
Flashback to a couple of weeks ago when the girls took their passion for music and hit the road. They made connections, which is all they were planning to do in the first place. After all, who gets to play on the side of an interstate in Tupelo every day?
Sitting with Turner and Wefer, their peaceful demeanor as they express their love for music is just one way they are appealing. They are humble, excited and happy to be sitting here talking about their passion.
"That's the art of it all," Turner says. "Music is an art, just like everything else. It's just self-expression. Hopefully people enjoy it. We've gotten way more positive response than I ever expected."
Heather Turner, vocals and guitar
Katie Wefer, vocals and guitar
Kristen Shaw, violin
Stephen Anderson, bass
Kelley Gray, djimbay
Daniel Peterson, drums