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Second cousin to the father of the blues

WANT TO GO?

Jerron "Blind Boy" Paxton

WHERE: Culture Center Theater

WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday

TICKETS: Adults $20, seniors $15, students $10

INFO: 304-415-3668 or www.footmad.org Jerron "Blind Boy" Paxton doesn't like to talk about how he lost his sight. It happened when he was a teenager.

In a slow drawl, the young blues and folk singer said, "It was a health situation. It's my personal health."

He won't discuss it.

"My vision is not a part of my music," he said.

Paxton, who performs in a FOOTMAD concert at the Culture Center Saturday, has been described by some blues websites as a "joyous entertainer, humorous with a dazzling wit, a terrific storyteller, exuding an affable excitement."

This is not how the 25-year-old from South Central Los Angeles describes himself.

"I don't know if I'm too good a storyteller," he said. "Everybody tells stories. Folks tell stories. I'm a folk musician, and I play folk music."

Paxton got his start young. While he was raised in California, his family came from deep Louisiana, and the music he grew up listening to was old blues and country.

"Everybody in South Central listened to that," he said. "I just played what was around me."

Paxton said the first CD he remembers having was a bootleg recording of Uncle Dave Macon and Son House. He didn't remember hearing much popular music.

Around age 12, he picked up the fiddle. A few years later, he got a banjo and then a guitar. He said the fiddle gave him trouble. He struggled to play it for two years before he said he got to be any good at it.

 "I took a few bluegrass lessons on the banjo," Paxton said. "But I don't do that so much any more."

He taught himself to play guitar by listening to records.

"The guitar was pretty easy," he said. "I understood as soon as I picked it up."

Paxton regards his instruments as tools, but nothing especially magical. There isn't really a special story about how he acquired his first guitar or his first fiddle.

Amused, Paxton said, "No, I don't have no fairy stories about how I sold my soul to Mr. Legba for 15 cents, and he tuned my guitar."

According to legend, his father's cousin, Robert Johnson, did just that. He made a deal with the devil, and the blues was born. But Paxton thinks such a thing is silly.

"The real lives of musicians are boring," he said. "We bought those instruments from the music store."

Still, without a lot of fuss, Paxton acknowledges that music is his life, and that's all he really wants to do.

As far as his plans for the rest of the year, he said, "I'll travel some, various places - some local, some abroad. That's about it. I'll keep on playing my music, just as I have before people called to ask me about my eyesight." 

Reach Bill Lynch at lynch@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.


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