The Homemade Jamz Blues Band’s skills belie their youth.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Listening to songs from The Homemade Jamz Blues Band’s debut CD Pay Me No Mind, certain images come into focus. With numbers like “Penny Waiting on a Change” sung in a knowing growl over highly expressive guitar playing, one can easily imagine a grizzled band of blues veterans who know their instruments like extra appendages. It’s no stretch to assume that these players are drawing from wells of painful life experiences to do such passionate blues performances.
But the truth is that The Homemade Jamz Blues Band is composed of a trio of freshly scrubbed kids from Tupelo, Miss. That’s right. Lead guitarist and vocalist Ryan Perry is the group’s oldest player at just 16; 14-year-old bassist Kyle Perry and 9-year-old drummer Taya Perry round out the lineup.
The Homemade Jamz Blues Band’s first public performance was four years ago at a Tupelo Mexican restaurant called Casa Monterey. But Kyle says the group really took off after coming in second at the International Blues Challenge last year. The group competed against 93 adult bands at the competition in Memphis.
Following the near win, The Homemade Jamz Blues Band started to receive more attention, including a record contract with the Canadian blues label NorthernBlues. They put out their debut release Pay Me No Mind last year. It includes the aforementioned “Penny Waiting for a Change,” along with the juke joint stomp title track, and “Where Your Friends Are,” featuring Ryan embellishing the song with his impressive guitar lines.
One reason The Homemade Jamz Blues Band stands out from other acts is that both Ryan and Kyle play instruments made out of old car mufflers. While Ryan admits that their father built the instruments because the family didn’t have enough money to buy new guitars, the guitarist has grown to prefer the sound of the homemade contraption. “It actually has a fuller, warmer tone,” he says.
Kyle says a highpoint of the siblings’ short career so far was meeting B.B. King and jamming with the blues legend. King also offered the young players some musical advice. “He told us to stick to our guns,” Kyle says. “He said don’t be a blues musician, be an all-around musician.”
Even with that suggestion from a blues great, The Homemade Jamz Blues Band doesn’t foresee heading into the rock or pop realms in the future.
“We love the blues,” Ryan says. “We love everything about it. We love who it comes from. We love where it comes from.”