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Jerron "Blind Boy" Paxton

"At first glance, everything about Jerron Paxton looks and feels like a journey back in time to the early days of roots music, blues, and American folk. His effortless juggling of instruments — from harmonica to fretless banjo, to guitar, to fiddle — his humorous banter, his rustic stage wear, even his on-stage moniker, “Blind Boy” Paxton, all conjure past musical eras. The songs and stories Paxton presents don’t come from dusty songbooks, obscure recordings, or forgotten archives, though. They were each a part of the soundtrack of his childhood growing up in South Central Los Angeles. In an area most famous for hip hop and R&B, a vibrant musical tradition flourished, starting from the deep southern U.S. and traveling along Interstate-10 all the way to L.A.

Paxton’s connection to these songs — to these nuggets of American, African-American, and working-class cultures — shines through his performances and recordings. He is not merely a preservationist mining bygone decades for esoteric material or works that fit a certain aesthetic or brand. He simply takes music that is significant to his identity, his culture, and his experience and showcases it for a broader audience. Its value does not reside solely in its history or in the authentic replication of that history, but also exists in its present, its relevance to modern times, and its future, as well." - Bluegrass Situation

Paxton's style draws from blues and jazz music before World War II and was influenced by Fats Waller and "Blind" Lemon Jefferson. According to Will Friedwald in The Wall Street Journal, Paxton is "virtually the only music-maker of his generation — playing guitar, banjo, piano and violin, among other implements — to fully assimilate the blues idiom of the 1920s and '30s, the blues of Bessie Smith and Lonnie Johnson."

Originally from the Watts district of Los Angeles, Paxton's grandparents moved from Louisiana to California in 1956.These southern roots would have an influence on Paxton as a young boy. After spending time listening to his hometown blues radio station, as well as the old Cajun and country blues songs his grandmother used to sing, Paxton became interested in these early sounds, developing a breadth of knowledge pertaining to such music along the way. He began playing the fiddle when he was twelve, only to pick up the banjo two years later. As a teenager, he began to go blind, losing most of his eyesight by the age of 16. Since his childhood, he has added piano, harmonica, Cajun accordion, ukulele, guitar, and the bones to his musical arsenal, although the banjo was his first serious instrument. In addition to blues and jazz, he uses these instruments to play ragtime, country blues, and Cajun music. 

Paxton's talent and contributions to acoustic blues have earned him comparisons to contemporary artists such as Taj Mahal, Keb' Mo', and Corey Harris. Similar to groups such as the Carolina Chocolate Drops, he is one of the few contemporary African-American banjo players touring today.

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