The real deal

Roots & Wires presents Bill 'HowlNMadd' and Shy Perry for juke joint blues


Bill "HowlNMadd" Perry and his daughter Shy Perry have played music together for a long time.

Bill Perry was born and grew up in Lafayette County, Mississippi, on the same land where his great-great-great grandfather worked as a slave. He moved to Chicago as a young man, and started playing gospel music, recording with Chess Records and touring the country. Eventually, Perry switched to the blues, and today he performs with his daughter Shy Perry.

Roots and Wires Presents brings Bill "HowlNMadd" Perry and Shy Perry back to Taos Saturday (May 12) from 8-11 p.m. at the Taos Mesa Brewing Mothership, 20 ABC Mesa Road, off U.S. 64 west. Tickets are $8 at the door.

"Their live show is a real deal blues review," said Roots and Wires' John Henderson. "If you walked into any of the remaining juke joints in Mississippi, this is what you will find … Bill plays all styles of the blues -- hill country, delta, and Chicago. He plays his own songs as well as covers. Shy adds sweet texture with her vocals and keys. He's a showman, workin' the crowd, telling jokes, getting people to hit the tip jar and asking people for a shot."

Henderson said that through their Juke Joint Series, Roots and Wires brings some of the older musicians from Mississippi to Taos. Many of the artists who have come in the past are no longer with us: T Model Ford, Robert Wolfman Belfour, David Honeyboy Edwards, Leo Bud Welch, and Robert Bilbo Walker.

"Many of the artists from this culture are dying off, and I try to support it as much as I can," Henderson explained.

The Perrys live in Abbeville, Mississippi. "It's a little tiny dot on the map. If you look at the map you'll probably need a microscope to see it," Bill Perry said. "I mean when you say small, it's the real definition of the word 'small'."

Shy Perry adds, "It's a nice peaceful area. We're all excited because we just got a Dollar General."

While they may be from a small town, the Perrys' horizons are broad. They have traveled with their music all over the world, including China, Indonesia, Italy, France, and on the open seas of the Mediterranean as part of the 2016 European Blues Cruise. This year a trip to Brazil and Argentina is in the works. This will be their first time in South America.

Bill and Shy Perry will also be traveling throughout the United States to promote Shy's new CD, which they are in the process of finishing now. The CD will feature Shy's original songs.

Shy Perry says she grew up listening to a variety of music, but blues was the foundation of their family's band, and she has a great love for it. "Just knowing how it's part of our history, I think it's really important to keep it alive," she said, adding that it is important to her not to stagnate in old sounds, but to keep creating new music.

"Of course, I love to listen to other people and just get an idea of what they're about," she said. "But … it's easy to get caught up in so many things that are going on. It's like this enormous buffet that is never-ending. You can always find something new, and you can get caught up in certain sounds, so, it's good to unplug every once in a while."

Asked what he tries to communicate to his audience when he's on a stage, Bill Perry said, "To me, life is all about having fun, enjoying yourself … We're going to be enjoying ourselves up there … We want to say to all the people, get ready to have a great time … because we're bringing the Mississippi juke … And we're gonna be jukin' all over New Mexico," Bill Perry said. "I am the crown prince of Mississippi Juke and I'm also HowlNMadd."

Shy Perry adds, "We want to leave people with great memories … we got one time around, so try to at least have a little fun out of life.

"I have a lot of fun in life," Bill Perry said.

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