The Homemade Jamz Blues Band

The Homemade Jamz Blues Band
Pay Me No Mind

Northern Blues Music

By Karen Nugent
October 2008

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It’s hard to believe this album was recorded by three young siblings – and I do mean young - ages 16, 13, and, yes, 9 – in just three days. Not only that, it was all done in their house.

Ah, but that house is in Tupelo, Mississippi.

The Homemade Jamz consists of singer and guitarist Ryan Perry, the oldest; along with brother Kyle on bass, and little sis Taya on drums and backup vocals.

Their story begins in Germany, after their father, Renaud Perry, returned from military career service in Korea with a guitar tucked into his duffle bag. Young Ryan - he was around 7 years old at the most - became fascinated with the Stratocaster copy. A week or so later, Ryan had written a short instrumental song, and was playing along with commercials on television. A hint of the talent to come, for sure.

A few years later, the family returned to Mississippi, and Ryan, 11 by that time, took up the blues in its natural surroundings after listening to B.B. King, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Albert King.

Kyle Perry joined his older brother at the age of 9, starting out on piano and then switching to bass, which he taught himself. Tara Perry, who had been playing tambourine, joined her brothers after an initial drummer did not work out. It took her two months to learn how to provide the great beat and occasional backup singing.

The next thing you knew, the band was performing at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, taking the second place prize in 2007.

The youngsters don’t sound that young, but they do somehow combine a gritty juke joint sound with a bit of a modern element to it. Singer Ryan has a raw, earthy voice that you’d never guess belongs to a teenager. The producer and sound engineer, Miles Wilkerson, should also get kudos for the splendidly understated and natural mix. No hoity-toity overproduced digital high jinks here.

This 11-track disc is made up of 10 original songs written by Renaud Perry, the dad; and ends with the John Lee Hooker classic, “Boom Boom.” Besides raising this musical brood, the elder Perry should be credited for penning some darn good tunes.

The raw sound gets going right away, on “Who Your Real Friends Are,” one of the best songs on the disc, and not only for the sound. The lyrics are perfect for today’s troubled economic and political times. It’s a breakthrough modern blues song.

“Voodoo Woman” brings in a classic danceable blues influence, and “The World’s Been Good to You” is a nice slow blues, one of my favorites on the record.

Papa Perry even gets in the actual act, blowing some pretty good harp.

“Right Thang, Wrong Woman” is a steady, kind of funky ode to a problematic relationship. Love the way Ryan throws those “ya’lls” in every now and then, and his guitar solo is fantastic.

“Penny Waiting on Change” is another slow blues with a ripping guitar solo by Ryan Perry. “Blues Concerto” is exactly what the title says. It’s fast, danceable, and there’s terrific harp weaving in and out of the guitar licks.

The one song on the album that is not exactly blues is “Time For Change,” which sounds too much like a ballad.

The title track, a true Delta-sounding swampy shuffle, again brings in Dad on harmonica. There are shades of the great North Mississippi bluesmen R.L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough in this one.

An instrumental, “Shake Rag,” again shows off the guitar prowess of Ryan Perry, giving him plenty of time to show his stuff.

This year, the band toured throughout Europe and North America, and recently were special guests at the grand opening of the B.B. King Museum in Indianola, Miss. They are also scheduled to on the annual Caribbean Blues Cruise in January. (Don’t worry, the kids are being home-schooled, according to a press release.)

With aging blues musicians becoming ill and passing away at an alarming rate, it is a gift to have an incredibly young band with this kind of authentic sound.

We can only wonder how they will evolve when they hit, say, their 20s.

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