Created in the Corridor: Bryce Janey
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (CBS2/FOX28) —
Musicians who love the blues say it gets into your blood. But in Cedar Rapids, a father’s bond with his son also proves that blood can get you into the blues. It’s a generational gift Created in the Corridor.
Bryce Janey has been playing the blues for most of his 44-years. And during a recent visit to his Cedar Rapids recording studio he showed me some of the music memories he’s collected along the way, including a Chet Atkins album he got the legendary guitarist to autograph when he met him at the Paramount Theatre in the mid ‘80s. Janey said he knew from an early age that he wanted to play guitar thanks to his father who took him to some gigs he was playing in Marion.
“I remember the first time I went to those. I don’t remember how old I was; I was probably 7 or 8 but kinda watching my dad play and he’d look over and egg me on,” recalled Janey.
Billy Lee Janey, an Iowa blues and rock ‘n roll mainstay, reared his son in a musical environment but didn’t force him to follow in his footsteps. He said it just seemed to come naturally with very few lessons. “With Bryce, I never tried to push him to play but it was all around him,” said the elder Janey.
Bryce admits that he didn’t take many guitar lessons but said he doesn’t consider himself a prodigy. “I think I knew what it needed to sound like. I did have to work at it, though. I had to work at it and craft it…but it helped having (musicians) around.”
Billy Lee remembers Bryce’s first public performance when his son joined him onstage in Mount Vernon at just nine years old. “The guitar was bigger than him at that point,” Billy Lee recalled. “I was playing with a band and so he started to play and he only played a couple of tunes and (the audience) wanted more. You know, a little kid like that stole the show.”
Today, Bryce still can steal a show drawing from his extensive experience on the road, both as a solo artist and with The Janeys. He has shared concert stages with the likes of blues greats Buddy Guy and Koko Taylor. His influences run deep. “Even about the time I was listening to Jimi Hendrix I was listening to Robert Johnson, you know.”
Bryce said his music career is buoyed by diversification, juggling solo gigs, band performances, writing and recording. With nearly a dozen CDs to his credit--several on the Grooveyard Records label-- Bryce said he’s happy playing the blues. But ‘easy’ is not a word he would use to describe his chosen art form.
“To play the blues is not to play in a band where you’re playing popular music. It’s just really not that,” Bryce explained. “You kinda gotta--I don’t want to say starve-- but you gotta pay your dues in order to play the blues a little bit.”
That’s something his dad knows firsthand. But Billy Lee said he’s proud of what his son has accomplished and he’s not done yet. “He’s going to do a lot more. I think there’s more to come,” insisted dad.
Added Bryce, “I figure I’m still a young man in the blues so I got plenty of time to do it, you know.”
Bryce said he plans to release another new album next year. In the meantime, you can catch him live Saturday, August 12 at Czech Village Blues featuring Chicago’s Joanna Conner. You’ll find more information about the show HERE and a link to Bryce’s website HERE.