Traditional American blues came to Black Deer in the form of multi-instrumentalist and inuendo raconteur Jerron ‘Blind Boy’ Paxton. Paxton is a talented young man keeping the songs of his heritage alive, playing ragtime, blues, reels and zydeco songs. “My name is Jerron and I’m from South Central L.A.” he began. “I’m going to play you a song about hell. But hell is not South Central. Hell is a place called Alabama, people come from Alabama to South Central.” He then played Alabama Bound, an early blues song heavily influenced by ragtime. With two solo sets at Black Deer Paxton showed his virtuosity by playing banjo, guitar, violin, harmonica, piano and the bones (like wooden spoons). He plays traditional blues classics. Close your eyes and you think you are listening to one of the old blues masters, not a thirty year-old.
Paxton is a born entertainer, full of witty asides and bawdy banter, some contained by double-entendres, some not. “Here’s some advice” he says, “Never spit in the wind. Never tread on Superman’s cape, and never make love to someone you wouldn’t kiss.”
The old tracks kept on coming; Candyman, Take A Whiff Of Me, Railroad Bill, the Gene Autry song Silver Haired Daddy Of Mine sung by Johnny Cash, and a wonderful piano version of Nobody Loves You When You’re down And Out. Frenetic stride piano, banjo behind his head, bowing and plucking the violin simultaneously, playing harmonica and the bones together – Paxton is a spectacular musical talent.
The audiences loved him and his repartee. From the side of the stage Ben Nichols, frontman of Texan rockers Lucero who were on stage after Paxton, looked on. Such different types of music sharing the same stage shows the wide range of quality acts at the Black Deer festival.
Words and Live Photo by Chaz Brooks