By Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Luella and the Sun is proving to be as tough as its music sounds.
The band blends gospel, blues and rock so well it sounds as though it should’ve come from the Delta, not Nashville, its home city.
“We’re country in a Son House kind of way, and in a Robert Johnson kind of way,” said the band’s guitarist, Joe McMahan.
Luella and the Sun – made up of McMahan, John Radford, Luella and Adam Bednarik – wowed fans at SXSW and its new 10” single is earning lots of love from NPR.
But earlier this month, the group suffered a blow when McMahan’s home – and the band’s studio – burned.
“It’s definitely slowing me down. I have a new job, which is the recovery from this. I’ve had to put any recording projects on hold,” McMahan said in an interview with the Daily Journal. “But we’re headed (to Tupelo), and looking forward to getting away from this for a day or two.”
That’s when Luella and the Sun will shine, grabbing the attention of anyone who sees them live. The band chugs out bluesy rock while Luella’s soul-shaking vocals reach right for the soul.
“Typically, it doesn’t matter where we play, people are taking their glasses off and putting them back on, trying to figure out what they’re seeing and hearing. It’s a state of confusion when we play to a new audience anywhere, which is what we’re going for,” he said.
Luella and her band got their start by revamping old gospel tunes. Now the band has its own arsenal of originals, but occasionally the Sun breaks out old gospel songs.
The band had plans to record a full-length album later this year. The fire put those plans on hold, but the album is coming eventually.
“That’s one reason we want to go ahead and do the full-length now: We have a very focused, interesting set that includes those gospel songs. The way those songs sit with (the originals) is an interesting little journey,” McMahan said.
Luella and the Sun may have been slowed down a bit, but it can’t be stopped.
“It’s intense,” McMahan said of the band’s music. “And hopefully that comes across to the audience.”
WHO: Luella and the Sun
WHEN: 9 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Blue Canoe, Tupelo