Blind Boy Paxton, Hollywood Avondale, 5 February 2020: Concert Review

Jerron ‘Blind Boy’ Paxton, thirty one years old, multi-instrumentalist, whisky connoisseur, and an astonishing performer. Benjamin Morley caught him flying those delta blues at The Hollywood Avondale last night.

Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton‘s latest album, Recorded for Your Entertainment, sounds like it was released in 1926 – Born straight out of the Mississippi Delta Blues movement. As a layman to the blues, I am in total awe of what Paxton is doing. I can’t comprehend the chord progressions, picking patterns, or scales he weaves in and out of, choosing to only obey the theory as it pleases him. As a musician, Jerron is intimidating. As a human being, he is a joy to be around.

To open the evening, Mark Baynes came out and played a few instrumentals on his Yamaha electric piano. He jumped all over his piano in 6 time like rain falls out of the sky – pure Rhoads sound! So seamless and effortless. I closed my eyes and imagine I was in whichever scene he was. If you listened carefully you can hear him singing the notes to himself, completely lost in it. Some of the most passionate and tasty licks I’ve heard at a live show for some time.

He has mad chops but only brought them out sparingly. At one point there were some muppets at the back yacking away and someone aggressively yelled at them ‘Hey, if you’re not here to enjoy the music why don’t you Fuck off’. And they did!

The audience cheers as Jerron walks on, he looks stunned and states ‘Jesus Christ, I ain’t done a damn thing yet.’ He plays a song about ‘lighting his cigarette’, which we later learn is a bit of a euphemism. Then he tells us about the old cotton fields in the American South and the songs the slaves sang as they escaped from them. One of which he played. He had learnt it from his great grandmother, ‘How I Got Over.’ He is honest about his naivety about how she might have gotten over some of the trials she went though.

His musicianship is out the gate. He is cited online to play seven instruments, but I bet he could play almost anything. One song on the banjo was one chord. He played a version of When the Saints Go Marching In on a harmonica and a couple of bones. His harmonica sounds like a freight train. At one point he used it to simulate classic American cars.

I might be mistaken, but I got the impression he was casually deciding which songs to play on the spot. In between he would tell stories about his family and their history, his dedication to whisky and a lot of jokes. He found our biodegradable plastic cups rather hilarious.

This guy is talking and singing on some heavy shit. Plantations, the KKK, mothers having their children taken off them and sold by the dozen. These are the some of the truths he has grown up with. Stories passed down from generation to generation, until they all end up with Jerron ‘Blind Boy’ Paxton. He has chosen to share these stories with anyone that will listen. He is proudly flying the flag of the delta blues, and honestly, I’m here for it.

~Benjamin Morley

Click any image to view a full gallery from Chris Zwaagdyk.

Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton

Mark Baynes