Go ahead. Laugh. 3 kids with a combined age of 37 playing the blues? Oh, and they're siblings? Riiiiiight.
So I was skeptical when I saw the front cover of The Homemade Jamz Blues Band's new CD Pay Me No Mind. Skeptical is actually putting it nicely, and so is novelty. I thought this has to be a joke. It has to! Doesn't it?
HJBB is lead by singer/guitarist Ryan Perry. The 15-year old Ryan is the oldest of the three Perry siblings and has been playing guitar since he was seven. 12-year old Kyle handles bass duties, while their younger sister, 9-year old Taya — yes, I said 9-years old — has been playing drums since she was six.
At this point, I was reaching for my thesaurus to keep from using the word "joke." I recently had the misfortune to spend some time on the juvenile talent show circuit and let me tell you something, the new lawyer in our "family" could spend a great many years suing some of these schools for truth in advertising. Elementary school talent shows are neither shows nor exhibitions of talent.
Farce. Sham. Charade. Shenanigans!
We've seen kids play music before and it's cute and some of them are even kind of good at it. But this isn't disposable pop music. These kids want to play the blues and that's a whole different ballgame. The blues is more than a style or a musical genre. It's a feeling, a mindset, and in some ways it's a lifestyle.
15-year olds in Tupelo had faced enough adversity to be able to distill those experiences into authentic blues music in 1908. Having your PS3 taken away in 2008 isn't the type of experience that's going to lead to the next "Hellhound on My Trail'" or "Rolling Stone." Some artists have made careers out of artifice and disguise. You can fake it in pop music and you can fake it in rock 'n' roll, but you can't fake it in the blues. It turns out these kids aren't.
HJBB took second place at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, competing against more than 100 other bands. Their bandwagon isn't huge...yet. But they have one and it is growing.
As I listened to the record I tried to reconcile the idea of three kids who likely haven't lived many of the experiences that typically give some the blues could actually be playing them, and I got to thinking. Maybe we're all born with certain emotions hardwired in the DNA and they don't all have to be experienced to be understood. I listen to Otis Rush and Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters and the life I've known is so vastly different than than theirs, yet I connect with the music they've made.
There is an unspoken element in the blues that transcends language. Even if you've never walked a mile in those shoes, something in our humanity is awakened when we hear those sounds. What these kids lack in experience they seem to be learning by studying and embracing the tradition of those that came before them, and they're pretty good at it.
It makes me sad to think that these three kids will soon experience those sadnesses; we all do and they won't be any exception. The difference is the HJBB already speaks a language that might help them to understand and that might save them one day. That language might help them share a piece of the shared sorrows of life in our time. In the meantime, we get to hear the joyful exploration of three kids who have stumbled onto a path of discovery of one of the deepest, richest musical traditions in human history.
The bandwagon just got bigger by one. There are still seats. Hop on board. You won't be lonely.
About Homemade Jamz Blues Band
Homemade Jamz’ Blues Band consist of 3 young siblings, the youngest blues band to sign with a major record label (NorthernBlues Music). Ryan Perry 16 yrs old/lead guitar & vocal. Kyle Perry 13 yrs old/bass player and Taya Perry 9 yrs old/drummer.
Our young band started out with Ryan at 7yrs old finding his fathers electric guitar. By the end of the first week, he made up a short instrumental tune that lead him to participate in the school talent show and was also able to play along with TV commercials. Ryan was promised guitar lessons shortly after the family arrived back to the US from Germany. After about a year, he kept changing instructors depending on how fast he was learning. He took 2yrs of guitar lessons and performed solo using a drum machine to help with his performances. He did this until his brother Kyle, 8yrs old wanted a piece of the action. Kyle requested to learn piano, but quickly got bored & quit. Then he wanted to learn guitar. He soon got frustrated and quit again because he was not playing like his brother Ryan.
We gave up on Kyle becoming a musician until one day after watching a musical DVD, Kyle was asked if he would be interested in trying to learn the bass guitar, and he responded “yes.” When we handed Kyle his first bass guitar on his 9th birthday, it was like magic. By the end of the first week, he managed to learn almost all the bass tunes to the songs his older brother was performing. Kyle learned how to play & never looked back. He has been a bass player since, and pretty much self taught himself with very little help from his brother & father. Kyle joined his brother Ryan & performed as a dual using a drum machine for a complete sound.
After a while & desperately needing a drummer, little sister Taya (7yrs old) joined the dual as their drummer. Taya started out playing the tambourine at age 6. As soon as she turned 7, she started taking drum lessons in Oct of 05, by Dec of 05 she stepped in and became the drummer for the young dual and never missed a beat. Taya only had drum lessons for 2 months & the rest came naturally & a little help from her brothers. Since then, the 3 young siblings joined forces & became one of the youngest blues bands around.
They have been performing at Several Festivals across country, Charity and Community Events, and several restaurants/bars (clubs) to include the famous Ground Zero Blues Club, Clarksdale, MS., Club Ebony, Indianola, MS., Club Superior, Beale St., Memphis, WC Handy Blues Festival, Florence, AL., Chicago Blues Festival, The Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival, Canada, The Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise, Oct 07, just to name a few. They have been featured several times on our local TV Morning Show and many articles were written about the band by several local news papers as well as blues magazines & through out the internet. Susan Spencer from CBS Sunday Morning News accompanied the young band at the WC Handy Festival in July 07, and aired the short story on the young band nation wide on Dec 2, 07. Homemade Jamz’ Blues Band is the 3rd Annual MS Delta Blues Society of Indianola Blues Challenge Winners, 2006, and the youngest (total age) blues band to ever entered the International Blues Challenge & became 2nd Place Winners of the 23rd International Blues Challenge, 2007 (band category). They competed against 93 adult bands from all over the world. Homemade Jamz’ will continue contributing to keeping the blues alive.
23rd International Blues Challenge 2nd Place Winners,
2007 (Band Category)
West Coast Blues "Blues New Artist of the Year Award Winners 2008"
NorthernBlues Music Recording Artist, 2007
See Homemade Jamz Band from Tupelo MS on the TV
Show Sunday Morning. Their travels are now taking them all over the
country as more folks learn about the magic and natural talent of
"The Homemade Jamz" Blues Band! Check it out.... Don't miss all
of their videos, also posted here on www.youtube.com