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East Side SlimBy East Side Slim

CD image of Amos Garrett – Get Way Back: A Tribute to Percy Mayfield
Homemade Jamz Blues Band – Pay Me No Mind
NorthernBlues, 2008

I don’t usually go for “youngster” blues acts. Many times it’s mostly hype, used to eventually break these “blues kids” in the rock and pop worlds. This sure doesn’t seem to be the case with the Homemade Jamz Blues Band. These young people from Tupelo, Mississippi are tremendous musicians, and seem to really feel and love the blues. Recorded in January 2008, Pay Me No Mind was performed by Ryan Perry (16 years old now, vocals and guitar), Kyle Perry (14, on bass) and Taya Perry (10, on drums.) This is truly a family band, as the kids’ father, Renaud, wrote all but one of the tracks on the CD and also contributed spirited harmonica to several tracks. The fact that Renaud Perry wrote most of the songs here goes a long way toward providing the band with a more mature sound than you would expect, or should expect, them to have.

The Songs:

1. Who Your Real Friends Are: This track kicks the CD off in fine fashion, reminding me very much of Son Seals’ early work with Alligator Records. The song features declamatory vocals, raw, funky guitar and drum work so good it’s almost impossible to believe it was performed by a 9 year old. Oldest brother Ryan gets most of the attention, but little sister Taya may be this band’s secret weapon.

2. Voodoo Woman: This song is another up-tempo, raw electric blues, kind of a cross between Son Seals’ raw funkiness and Stevie Ray Vaughan’s heavily rhythmic style (Stevie was a phenomenal rhythm player; go back and listen to his records if you don’t believe me.) I really dug Kyle’s bass guitar work on this song; that young man provides a deep funky anchor to all the cuts on this CD. Who say’s nobody notices the bass player?

3. The World’s Been Good To You: The band slows it down here a bit, throwing a slower blues into the mix. Ryan acquits himself pretty well vocally, as his voice sounds much older and more seasoned than a typical 15 year olds’ voice. The way Ryan plays and sings makes me think he’s one of those kids with an “old soul”, and one of the young people who can truly carry on the blues to future generations (along with his siblings.)

4. Right Thang Wrong Woman: This is a very cool, funky track, one that features the bass of brother Kyle. I’m not sure Ryan really does this song justice vocally (he was straining quite a bit to get to certain notes), especially considering the song’s subject matter. This song would work very well for an older singer who can really belt out the lyrics through a large vocal range.

5. Penny Waiting On Change: We’ve got a slow blues here. It’s really a nice track, with Ryan taking his time on guitar, building tension slowly. He does a nice job vocally – I can hardly wait to hear what this kid’s voice will sound like when he reaches 30 years of age. My guess is that he’ll then have two amazing instruments – his guitar and his voice.

6. Blues Concerto: This track brings the tempo back up, with the band (including their father on harp.) It’s mainly an instrumental vehicle for everyone to riff on with a few basic verses thrown in. This one is basically a juke joint dance number – and a fun one at that!

7. Time For A Change: This song is more contemporary in nature, more of a mid-tempo blues/rock tune with Hendrix influences. These can be heard mainly in the melody and in the use of the cymbals (lots of cymbals.)

8. Pay Me No Mind: This is the title track from the CD, and it would please most anyone wanting to get their “dance on” in a Mississippi juke. You will notice a definite “Two Trains Running” influence here, but that doesn’t take away from the energy of the songs or from the musicianship heard here. These three kids play so well (I think I’m jealous.)

9. Jealous: Speaking of jealous, that’s out next track. It’s an up-tempo, raw funky track with lots of cool rhythm guitar courtesy of Miles Wilkinson (who provided rhythm guitar to 3 other cuts on this CD and produced the CD.)

10. Shake Rag: This is electric blues by way of Chicago with a funky bottom end. Kyle is a heck of a bass player. I don’t know about the “rag” in the title; Shake Boogie might have been a better name for the song. Either way, this song will make dancers shake whatever they’ve got.

11. Boom Boom: Yep, the band covers John Lee Hooker’s famous tune. Many of the songs on this CD are nearly covers (tunes using old song melodies but with new lyrics and arrangements) so it’s only right to credit at least one of them. The kids do a very nice job here, playing it raw and dirty and boogie’n with style.

The Verdict:
You know, this really is a very solid freshman effort from Homemade Jamz Blues Band. It is incredibly difficult to believe this music was performed by people so young. But, you better believe it because this is real blues, people. It will be interesting to see what occurs with this band down the road, especially if the kids start writing their own songs. Many of the songs on this CD are overly-familiar (Daddy Renaud’s influences were showing) but the energy and talent of the band makes up for this. Watch out for this band – the sky’s the limit for them. STLBluesometer rating = 3.5

Lee Howland, aka "East Side Slim"
The STLBluesometer

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