Ryan Perry (16) – vocals,
Kyle Perry (13) – bass
Taya Perry (9) – drums,
“These young kids have got energy, talent and do the blues proud with
their own flavor. I believe they’ve got a GREAT future ahead.”
– B.B. King
How does a seven-year-old kid get the blues? Ryan Perry, now 16, laughs heartily
at the notion—like he’s a father himself, maybe even a grandfather, as if fondly recalling his precocious past
self. “We haven’t had any bad experiences as a family,” says Perry, who sings and plays guitar in the Homemade Jamz Blues Band (HJBB) with
his brother Kyle (13, bass) and sister Taya (9, drums). He understands the irony of a world-weary anklebiter but
more importantly the simple, youthful concept of doing what comes naturally.
HJBB started in Baumholder, Germany when father Renaud Perry returned from military service in Korea. Young
Ryan found a Stratocaster copy among dad’s bags and wanted it. A week later, Ryan had composed a short instrumental
tune (which he’d play at his school talent show) and was playing along to commercials. When the family relocated
to Tupelo, the passion stayed with him. Returning home, Ryan, now 11, dove headfirst into the blues.
“I heard B.B. King, Albert King and Stevie Ray Vaughan,” he recalls, “and I would listen to them
all the time and try to emulate them.” Having found his muse, Ryan’s
playing progressed “like, tenfold. As soon as I knew which direction
to go, it really took off.”
Two years later, Ryan was playing live with a drum machine and little brother Kyle, then nine years old, wanted
in on the action. After first trying piano and becoming frustrated that he didn’t progress as fast as Ryan, Kyle
switched to bass, teaching himself the nuances of the instrument and its role in the blues. Soon he was playing
out with his brother, as confident as any wizened old pro and digging his role. “[I]
keep the timing and lock down the beat along with the drummer, which allows the lead guitar player to do his
own thing while everyone is juking to the beat.”
Eventually proud papa Renaud called Robert Stolle of Clarksdale’s storied Ground Zero Blues Club and insisted on
an audition, HJBB — Ryan, Kyle and an unrelated drummer wowed Stolle enough to get a booking. When that drummer
didn’t work out, seven-year-old Taya wanted to give it a shot. Already possessing a rhythmic sense from playing
tambourine, Taya settled onto the stool and in two months was providing the beat behind Ryan and Kyle. “It's very exciting to play drums,” she
It’s likewise energizing to watch HJBB work out, and soon the cherubic trio was a hot ticket. Ryan’s gruff vocals
and visceral, stinging, guitar licks, Kyle’s solid rumble and Taya’s cool stomp have electrified crowds across
the country, up and down Memphis’s famed Beale Street and on the festival and blues cruise circuit. The band saturated
their local media, appearing numerous times in several local papers and national blues magazines, and on local
and national TV—including a feature segment on CBS Sunday Morning when the band played the WC Handy Festival last
July. Even B.B. King said in a YouTube video, “In my 82 years, I’ve
never seen something musically… so remarkable.”
As well, HJBB won the 3rd Annual MS Delta Blues Society of Indianola’s Blues Challenge (2006), and were the youngest
band ever to compete in the International Blues Challenge (2007), taking 2nd in a field of 157 bands. Fred Litwin,
president of the esteemed label NorthernBlues Music, was a judge for the event. Fred called HJBB and announced
he was keen to make them the youngest blues band to sign with a major record label. “Mister
Fred,” as the Perrys call him, made it happen. True to their name,
the band recorded Pay Me No Mind
at home, over three days in January 2008.
Rife with powerful, puissant songs (lyrics by Renaud, music by HJBB) that lyrically and musically epitomize the
blues, Pay Me No Mind blends Chicago and Mississippi juke joint blues, copping the gritty slickness of the former
and the dirty soul of the latter—never betraying its authors’ age. The trio exudes nothing but confidence and attitude
as they sing of betrayal, love, hard times and other bad things gone down as if they’ve lived a life rich in strife.
They are, to be sure, a veritable blues explosion poised to make the big sound.
Which again begs the question: how do a seven-year-old and his younger siblings get the blues? Ryan says they just
“connect” with the music, like it’s hard-wired into them. He and his siblings don’t think in those terms. “We all love the blues,” he says matter-of-factly.
“For some reason it just comes naturally to us.”
- The Youngest Blues Band in America with Kyle (aged 13 on
Bass guitar), Taya (aged 9 on drums) and Ryan (aged 15 on lead guitar and vocals)!
- Winners of the 3rd Annual MS Delta Blues Society
of Indianola’s Blues Challenge (2006)
grew up listening to old blues players and used their
sound to revolutionize music. Now it may be happening
his brother Kyle and their sister Taya are bringing new
fans to the blues….Three
years ago they couldn’t read music, now they have
a world tour and adoring fans." - Today Show
- The band will be featured on the nationally
Routes radio program. An episode entitled
‘Family Harmony’ has been distributed to over a million listeners by American Public Media to 225 affiliated stations
and XM/Sirius Satellite Radio November 26 through December 2, 2008.