Archives for category: Uncle Dave Macon Days

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

Uncle Dave Macon

Uncle Dave Macon Days , established in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, celebrated 35 years as one of the premier old time music competitions in the country over July 13-15th at Cannonsburgh Pioneer Village just a few blocks from the original town square where the festival started.

Dancing on the porch – photos – Brad Hardisty

Three Nationals Championships are held during the event including Old Time Banjo, Old Time Clogging and Old Time Buck Dancing. Competitions including old time style from Fiddle to Guitar to Banjo are held over the first two days.

Tearing down the 2nd stage on Sunday

This year, Mike Snider who grew up in Gleason, Tennessee, was the Heritage Award Winner.

 “I am thankful to be chosen for an award that has to do with good ole string band music. I feel like I’m in the business for the same reason as Uncle Dave; for the joy of playing the tunes and sharing a laugh or two with the common everyday folks. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone in July.” –  Mike Snider

Mike was a regular on Hee-Haw after winning a National Competition for Bluegrass Banjo, followed by work at the original Opryland Theme Park before being inducted into The Grand Ole Opry in 1990.

Mike and his band are regulars on the Grand Ole Opry, where host, Eddie Stubbs of WSM 650, has said that his group is “best string band in the nation.”

Famed Banjo player, J. D. Crowe took the Trailblazer Award. J.D.  has been a part of Bluegrass and traditional music when as a young teen in 1956, he joined Jimmie Martin and The Sunny Mountain Boys followed by the formation of The Kentucky Mountain Boys.  J.D.’s most groundbreaking group came in the early 70’s with his band J. D. Crowe and The New South, who were at the time considered a bridge to the future with past traditionalists. The players that came out of that group such as Tony Rice, Jerry Douglas and Ricky Skaggs went on as icons. The 70’s were a time when some of the best players, such as Sam Bush set the tone that would become a permanent growing worldwide movement that is bluegrass today.

Chapel Windows at Cannonsburgh Village

The Macon- Doubler Fellowship that was established by the late Alvin Doubler and his wife Mary Macon Doubler, Granddaughter of Uncle Dave Macon were awarded to Sandra Gilliam of Manchester, Tennessee and Colton Wrisner, who is a ninth grader at Warren County High School.

The Well Gospel Band on Main Stage

Cannonsburgh  Pioneer Village has over 20 structures representing life n the 1800’s in middle Tennessee. There was plenty to do besides listening to music by the main stage, wandering through local artisan booths to finding some food across the creek, which was pretty much State Fair Cuisine.

So slow smoked, it taste like ham!

There were hand dipped corn dogs and smoked Turkey legs amongst the Gyro and Philly Cheese Steak sandwiches.

Paul Marcil

People were encouraged to bring stringed instruments and join a  jam in the area where grub and historic structures were situated. It gave the feel of attending a county fair in the 1800’s.

The Bluegrass Bus

The Bluegrass Bus, with the historic logos of WSM Radio, The Grand Ole Opry, Lester Flatt and Earl Skruggs as well as Martha White Flour, looked the part of Flatt & Skruggs tour bus, while inside there were press photos, autographs and collectibles from the last 70 years of Bluegrass and Country Music History.

Gerron “Blind Boy” Paxton – photo / Brad Hardisty

One of the people hanging out in the park playing some old time Banjo and Fiddle was none other than Gerron “Blind Boy” Paxton, whom I had met at the Folk Alliance in Memphis back in 2010. He was hanging out with Hubby Jenkins and Dom Flemons of The Carolina Chocolate Drops back in Memphis and holding his own.  Gerron is a multi-instrumentalist, who is equally adept at Old Time Banjo, Fiddle as well as Piano when he can find one. Gerron specializes in late 1800’s-earlly 1900’s music.

I asked Gerron if he had put out an album yet. Gerron said that he had released a 78 over in England, although for now he calls Brooklyn, New York home after being raised in Los Angeles, California. A lot of people had been inquiring about recordings and “Blind Boy” spoke about maybe opening up and E-Bay Store when he gets back home.

  The Well Gospel Band took the stage Sunday Afternoon, for some old time gospel playing a bluegrass version of “Count Your Blessings. “ While the weather was a little difficult with some rain on Saturday, Sunday the sun was out and there was no charge to enter the grounds for one last round to catch up with old friends and make some new ones.

– Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN