'Blind Boy' Paxton bringing old-time blues to campus

Blind Boy Paxton playing banjo
Blind Boy Paxton

Fresh from playing the Lead Belly Fest at Carnegie Hall last week, Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton will bring a mix of acoustic blues, bluegrass, pop songs, spoken word and more to Pitt-Bradford Feb. 18.


            Paxton will play a free Noon Tunes concert at noon in the Studio Theater in Blaisdell Hall. The concert is open to the public.


            A largely self-taught musician, he is one of 20 “musical descendants” profiled in an upcoming four-part PBS production, “American Epic,” along with the Alabama Shakes, Beck and Merle Haggard.


            Born in South Central Los Angeles to a family of down-home Louisianans, Paxton spent his childhood listening to and enjoying music with his family who listened to everything from Hank Williams to jazz and blues and '70s pop and soul to classical music on PBS.


            Paxton plays piano, fiddle, banjo and guitar and studied for a time at both Marist College and the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City, but he is known as much for his voice as his playing.


            “I never thought I'd hear anybody sing like this. There's something primordial about the way he sings,” composer, pianist and ragtime expert Terry Waldo told The Village Voice last year.


            His talents are opening up a world of travel for the young musician, who will play in Kansas City, Mo., the same night as his noontime Bradford performance, and travel on to Saskatoon, Canada, and tour Australia by the end of March.


            His recent tours have included two weeks in the United Kingdom last fall, the St. Louis Folk and Roots Festival and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.


            To learn more about Paxton or hear samples of his music, visit www.blindboypaxton.com.


            For disability needs related to the concert, contact the Pitt-Bradford Office of Disability Resources and Services at (814)362-7609 or clh71@pitt.edu.