Friday, October 24, 2008
Blues: The Next Generation
To be honest, when the clerk at the Cat Head blues shop in Clarksdale, Mississippi suggested the brothers-sister blues act, Homemade Jamz Band, I was skeptical.
There is a solid precedent regarding sibling bands - Osmonds, Hanson, and the omnipresent Jonas Brothers - for my skepticism. Also, the band's name, with the bubble-gum Jamz with a "z," was also another warning sign. It seemed like just another gimmick.
However, the clerk persisted and I finally slipped that well-worn cynicism off like an old coat and picked up their debut album, Pay Me No Mind.
Now count me among the converted. The Perry siblings from Tupelo, Mississippi are fronted by lead guitarist and vocalist 16-year-old Ryan. His brother Kyle, 14, fills in on bass and baby sister, Taya, 9, plays a very solid drums. Together, they play a fresh, but traditional, brand of lip-smacking, finger-licking Delta Blues.
Make no doubt about it, guitarist Ryan is a great talent to be watched and savored. He plays the blues with a smooth and sometimes dirty style in the great tradition of Mississippi bluesmen. Even Ryan's voice carries far more weight than one would expect from a teenager. He growls. He teases and shouts.
Perhaps, best of all, Ryan plays one of the great looking guitars of all time. Constructed by the band's father, the guitar is made from Ford automobile parts, with the body coming from a muffler. Simply, its bad ass.
It's not surprising that the band garnered a second place finish in the 2007 International Blues Challenge and was named, this year, as New Artist of the Year by the Bay Area Blues Society.
This is so much more than a gimmick. It is the next generation of American blues and that is quite reassuring in times like these.
In the video below, B.B. King gives the band some deep love by saying, "In my 82 years, I've never seen something musically so remarkable as these young people." If B.B. says it so, it must be the gospel.