Two of pop music’s finest – Steve Winwood and Alex Chilton – hit the big time while still in their teens; Stevie Wonder even earlier, and Shuggie Otis and Kenny Wayne Shepherd were playing with the big boys before they hit 20. Yet, bands – people who play their own instruments and possibly write their own material – made up of folks under 20 are usually, often rightly, considered novelty acts.
No qualifications are needed for the Perry siblings, together known as the Homemade Jamz Blues Band. From the first notes of this disc – recorded when drummer Tyra was 9, bassist Kyle was 13, and guitarist/vocalist Ryan was 15 – it’s obvious these are musicians ready and worthy to be judged by grown-up standards.
Tyra has the command and confidence of someone who’s spent years playing Beale Street gin joints. Can a 9-year-old be this funky, so knowing, on a set of traps? And she and Kyle are a rhythm section with an intuition usually lacking in players three times their ages. And while big brother Ryan’s guitar reflects intense study (Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Guy) he’s not just regurgitating licks – impressive as that may be – he’s got the savvy to work what he’s heard into something uniquely his own. When he sings, it’s not with the voice of a kid or a freakish parody of an adult, but with that of a young man who can sing about a “Voodoo Woman” without straining credibility the way this disc, in the most positive way, will.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Aug. ’08 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.