Viewers of NBC's Today Show got a dose of homemade Mississippi Blues via Tupelo last week. American Story reporter Bob Dotson is the latest national reporter to tell the tale of Renaud Perry and his three children, ten-year-old Taya, Kyle, 14 and Ryan, 16.
They began playing the blues with homemade guitars their father constructed out of parts from his auto parts store.
Taught to play by Jabbo Harris, The Homemade Jamz Blues Band recently finished second at the Memphis International Blues Challenge, beating out 92 other bands.
Here's a sample:
“We would sweat and we would work,” recalls Jabbo, pushing back his battered straw cowboy hat. “Then we would practice and sweat some more. I said, ‘This guy’s gonna make a guitar player because his fingers are as fast as lightning.’
“Next thing I know, here comes his little brother, Kyle, carrying a bass guitar. Bass was way longer than he was. Looks like the bass should have been carrying him. He picked up strumming right away.
“Finally, their little sister, Taya. She’s the drummer. Just 7 at the time. Reminded me of Willie ‘Big Eyes’ Smith; just a natural.”
Read the full text and watch the video of Bob Dotson's NBC story here.
NBC isn't the first national media to discover The Homemade Jamz Blues Band. In July, correspondent Michele Norris featured the band on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" show.
I decided I had to meet the three kids who make up the Homemade Jamz Blues Band, so we invited Ryan, Kyle and Taya Perry to visit our studios. I had the pleasure of watching the adults in the room go through the same jaw-dropping experience. Faces twisted. Eyebrows raised. Are these kids really playing this music? It was rich.
Who knows if these kids will get rich playing their music? I got the sense it's not what drives them. They're not even old enough to vote, and they've already found their talent and their passion. And anybody who listens — well, they're made richer by the experience.
In August, Modern Guitars Magazine featured the band on their website with this story.
Last December, it was CBS news featuring the band.
You also can count blues legend B.B. King and Jesse Robinson as fans, as evidenced in this popular YouTube clip:
The title of The Homemade Jamz Blues Band's CD is "Pay Me No Mind." But with this kind of national exposure, that's not very likely.