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The Homemade Jamz Blues Band- The Game


10 tracks/48:39

It’s confession time.

I have a strong bias against all of the attention heaped on young blues musicians. There are plenty of them – and most play their instruments quite well. And more than a few of them can deliver a quality vocal.

My sticking points start with the media attention that is quick to praise a musician more for the novelty of their age than musical ability, at the expense of truly talented players that have been out there on the road for decades. And has a pre-teen or teenager acquired enough life experiences to really “understand” the blues, to move beyond youthful angst to expressing the depth of human emotions. Have these youngsters really paid their dues ??

Another confession – I had not taken the time to listen to either of the first two releases by the Homemade Jamz Blues Band. I reluctantly agreed to review their new release, not expecting much even though the band has received many enthusiastic write-ups.

Well, the HJBB has set the record straight and made a believer out of me. The three members of the group are siblings – Ryan Perry (18 years old ) on guitar and vocals, Kyle (16) on bass and Taya (12) on drums. Their father, Renaud, helps out on harmonica and tambourine. The family has a real nice cottage industry going as they put this disc out themselves and Renaud wrote all of the songs for this project. Dad also built the double-neck guitar and six string bass his sons play, utilizing automotive mufflers for the bodies. Collectively, they bring an enthusiasm to the music that can be hard to find these days – and deliver exceptional performances that put to rest any questions of age.

Ryan opens the disc with a mournful cry that leads into “Washing Clothes”, a jubilant tribute to a woman who “..shakes like a Buick on a gravel road.” Listen to the rousing rendition of “Burned Down the House”. Over a taut beat and his dad's harp, Ryan lays down an emotionally-charged vocal about his girlfriend exacting vengeance after finding out about his infidelity, sounding like it just happened to him yesterday. “I'm the Man” finds Ryan stating his claim as the lover supreme over a grinding rhythm. Renaud makes great use of sports analogies in the lyrics to “the Game”, with Ryan's smoky voice shouting out as he heads toward the endzone before unleashing a frenzied guitar solo.

On “Gotta Bad Bad Feeling”, Ryan's guitar tone and playing will bring to mind Jimi Hendrix. And his urgent vocal is a perfect fit for this slow blues track. The band ups the tempo on “Duck Hill Stomp”, combining the boogie beat with a Mississippi hill country stomp with Ryan's guitar playing off his father's harp. Ryan switches to slide on “Nothings Changed for the Po”, his biting guitar riffs accenting the updating of the classic blues theme. The band settles into a strong groove on “Blues Train” while taking listeners on a musical journey through the state of Mississippi.

Kyle and Taya are a rock-solid rhythm section throughout the disc, injecting a propulsive energy into every track. Ryan is a star in the making. His vocals are consistently delivered with the appropriate emotional edge and his guitar work is quite impressive as well. Already veterans after just a few years together, they tear through their father's songs with skill that belies their age. This is a band – and a recording – that everyone needs to hear. They certainly changed my way of thinking!!

Reviewer Mark Thompson is president of the Crossroads Blues Society in Rockford. IL.

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