By STEVEN NALLEY
Jamie Davis isn’t completely sure who came up with the name “Soul Gravy” for his band, or how they came up with it.
Davis, lead singer and acoustic guitarist for the band, said someone in the group must have been familiar at one point or another with Cross Canadian Ragweed, a Texas southern rock band that named one of their albums “Soul Gravy.” When the time came to name the band, “Soul Gravy” arose from someone’s subconscious, he said. How it came didn’t matter, Davis said, because at the end of the day, it worked.
“Our idea was ‘gravy for the soul,’” Davis said. “It seems like ‘gravy for the soul’ to be able to play with guys that you’re really good friends with.”
Jamie Davis and Soul Gravy will play at Rick’s Cafe on Friday, reuniting with the college town where the band solidified the friendships that have kept the band together for half a decade.
Davis said because the band coalesced at Mississippi State, it’s always fun to return to Starkville.
“Rick’s has been our home bar for several years now,” Davis said.
Jerry Carnathan, the band’s lead guitarist, said before Rick’s Cafe became the only bar in Starkville where the whole band plays together, State Theatre was their “home bar.” He said the band has a big following in Starkville and works hard to maintain it.
“These days, we’re actually trying to develop a new crowd, because we realize in a college town there’s a lot of turnover,” Carnathan said. “We’ve always had a good response from Starkville.”
Carnathan said the band also tours northern Mississippi and Alabama, some areas of Louisiana, and Tennessee, including Nashville, where the band records music. The band has two albums, he said: “The Blue Album,” released in 2010, and “Mississippi Moonshine,” released in 2006.
The band’s line-up has remained steady for about five or six years, Davis said, but it hasn’t always been that way. Davis said he met and teamed up with Dan Isbell, now the band’s rhythm guitarist, when both of them were at Northeast Mississippi Community College taking part in its Campus Country music scholarship program.
“Then we moved to State, and we started to do a two-man acoustic band performing around town,” Davis said. “At the time, nobody had a really solid gig they were working with. They were all working with two or three bands apiece. We finally found this thing that clicks, and we’ve been together since.”
Davis said the band started out covering a lot of rhythm and blues music, including songs by Stevie Wonder, Prince, Rick James and Michael Jackson. When the band began writing original music, he said, it came out more like country music, but kept R&B’s flow and groove, and that gave birth to the band’s distinct sound.
“Some people have called our music ‘Funk-try,’” Davis said. “It’s like we have an R&B and funk rhythm section, with the bass player and drummer, and then we lay country lyrics and country guitars over the top of it.”
Carnathan said different members of the band are influenced by different genres, resulting in the “Funk-try” sound.
“It all comes together in strange ways and comes out to be what it is,” Davis said. “Our drummer is a jazz guy. I’m kind of a blues and old country guitar player. Jamie is influenced by a lot of R&B.”
Carnathan said the band was getting ready to start a new album. The band has enough new material for a new album already, he said, but the band still wants to make more new material first.
We just want to spread out, reach more people and more places and continue to maybe try to make a career out of it,” Carnathan said. “We like the path we’re on, we just want to be able to keep doing it.”