Heather Turner and Katie Wefer knew each other for 10 years, first at Highlands High School in Northern Kentucky, then at the University of Kentucky, but it was music that turned them into sisters.
Neither had even started playing guitar until late in their college days when unbeknownst to each other, both started learning to play at around the same time. Turner picked up an old guitar that had belonged to her grandfather and mother, while Wefer learned a few chords from a cousin on a $20 garage-sale purchase. Both were hard guitars to play and keep in tune, but something they couldn’t quite put a name to kept them going.
But it wasn’t until they both suffered heart-breaking splits with the men they presumed to marry that they latched onto each other and started playing out their sorrow.
They learned about five songs to start out, but it was the Cranberries’ “Linger” that made them discover they could harmonize, so when they’d go to a campus party together, they’d play it over and over again.
“Then all these guys who played guitar would come around and show us stuff,” Wefer said, and the learning continued.
They entered a few talent shows, and even won $100 in Austin, but it was about two years ago that they had their first big gig.
“My boyfriend’s band had a gig in Lexington and they let me play a couple of songs,” Turner said. “I started talking to the bartender and he asked me if I was in a band, and I said I was, so he booked us for a whole night.”
Although they packed the place and everyone seemed to enjoy it, they realized that they needed to work things out better — learn parts on the guitar rather than just both play the same thing.
While Wefer was on a trip to London two summers ago, Turner visited Ashville, N.C., and fell in love with a restaurant called Tupelo Honey.
“It was just one of the cutest places I’d ever been in,” she said. “They served flowers with every dish.”
And because they liked the Van Morrison song of the same name, they adopted it as the name of their developing act. They started writing music together in addition to playing the cover songs and decided to put together a band.
Things really started coming together for them last fall when they took two weeks off their day jobs to visit a friend in Dallas. They went through Memphis, took the tour of Graceland, then decided to go to Tupelo, Miss., Elvis’ hometown, to get a picture of themselves under a “Welcome to Tupelo” sign.
While doing that, a group of young men stopped and asked them if they were in a band, so they not only serenaded them under the “Welcome to Tupelo” sign and even played at a party for them that night.
“That was a great trip,” Wefer said. “When we got back, we started getting everybody together.”
With the release of a seven-song CD — two by Turner, two by Wefer and three written together — Tupelo Honey is ready to play, and plan to do a lot of it this summer.
how to go
WHAT: Tupelo Honey CD release party with guests Lauren Houston, Wojo, Kelly Thomas and The Fabulous Pickupsm and Pete Dressman.
WHERE: Southgate House, 24 E. Third St., Newport, Ky.
WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday.
MORE INFO: (859) 431-2201; southgatehouse.com.