Jeron Blind Boy  Paxton may be one of the greatest multi-instrumentalists of this generation that you have not heard of yet. Jeron just made the cover of the current print edition of Living Blues Magazine without even releasing a single official recording in the United States.

“The idea for this issue has been coming together for quite a while now. It started last year when Corey Harris turned me on to Jeff Scott, the Virginia acoustic bluesman and nephew of the great John Jackson. But what really made the idea take off was when photographer/writer Bill Steber turned me on to the young bluesman JeronBlind BoyPaxton. Paxton is an amazing young musician who can play most anything with strings and play it exceedingly well. He is easily the most talented young acoustic bluesman to come along in many, many years.  He is the closest thing to a living “prewar” bluesman I’ve heard since Alvin “Youngblood” Hart’s first record came out in 1996.” – Brett J. Bonner, Editor, Living Blues Magazine

The issue features photographs of Jeron produced in the a way that fits the time period of his chosen music expression. Blind Boy appears like somebody being discovered from the past for a new generation. “The tintype images produced by Bill Steber for this issue are printed in their original form—as reversed images. The optics of all ground-glass lenses render a scene upside-down and backwards. Modern cameras correct for this by the use of mirrors or digital electronics, but cameras in the 19th century, when the wet-plate collodion process was in use, could only render a scene as the lens projected it. Hence all non-negative images from the 19th century are backwards. In keeping with the integrity of the wet-plate collodion process, LB has chosen to publish Steber’s tintypes in their original form.” – Brett J. Bonner, Editor, Living Blues Magazine

Jeron Blind Boy Paxton, Memphis 2010, photo – Brad Hardisty

I first met Jeron at the Folk Alliance in Memphis, Tennessee in late 2010. Jeron had come to the conference with friends, The Carolina Chocolate Drops that included newest member, Hubby Jenkins.

Jeron Blind Boy Paxton, Memphis, 2010, photo – Brad Hardisty

I actually talked shop with Jeron sitting in some chairs on the second level of the Hotel. Jeron’s interest in early 1900’s music and knowledge of particular styles was way beyond my own comprehension and I enjoyed getting his perspective on that time period speaking as if he was visiting 2010 from that time via “Back To The Future”.

When I finally heard Jeron play, it was actually playing some banjo after finding that a grand piano in an enclave was locked up. After hearing Jeron explain and play some rare songs from an era almost 100 years ago, I asked if he had recordings I could get, but, found out that he had not recorded yet.

I asked Jeron if he would be interested in doing some recordings while in Memphis. Jeron had some kind of flu or cold and was not feeling that well, but, said he would see how he felt later.

Dom Flemons playing bones, Jeron, banjo, Hubby Jenkins, Memphis Folk Alliance, 2010, photo – Brad Hardisty

I contacted one of my best friends, Brad Dunn (nephew of Donald “Duck” Dunn, Booker T. & The MG’s as well as son of Bobby Dunn who ran the King Records, home of James Brown, office in Memphis back in the 60’s). Brad was Vice- President of recording studio, Leeway Music and had several recent recordings done at Leeway in recent history. Brad was definitely interested in working some kind of deal if Jeron wanted to record while in Memphis.

Unfortunately, Jeron was not feeling well for the duration of the Folk Alliance Conference and that did not happen.

Dom Flemons, Jeron listening in, Memphis Folk Alliance 2010, photo – Brad Hardisty

What did happen was Jeron Blind Boy Paxton got some serious respect as he was involved with a forum talking about the earliest forms of folk music both American as well as Irish, Welsh and other forms by some of the most respected musicians and professors in each genre.

Jeron at Memphis Folk Alliance 2010, photo – Brad Hardisty

Dom Flemons and Hubby Jenkins of The Carolina Chocolate Drops participated playing “bones” during the forum.

Jeron Blind Boy Paxton, Uncle Dave Macon Days, Murfreesboro, TN 2012, photo – Brad Hardisty

Recently, this last summer, while attending Uncle Dave Macon Days in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, I found Jeron entertaining and jamming with local musicians as he continued to spread some old time music played with unusual depth.

Jeron Blind Boy Paxton, Uncle Dave Macon Days, Murfreesboro, TN – photo – Brad Hardisty

Jeron said he had recorded a 78 record in England, but, that was the extent so far.  Living Blues Magazine’s great spotlight piece will continue to build some momentum till Jeron decides what to do beyond attending folk and blues festivals.

In a way, he is like Jimi Hendrix in the early days jamming and meeting everybody he can along the way before getting out to the world in general.

– Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

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