With warm tunes of whiskey, women and politics, American performer Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton transported Christchurch audiences back to a time when blues was king.
The New York-based, multi-instrument blues artist returned to New Zealand last week for three shows across the country, promoting his latest album Recorded Music for Your Entertainment.
Packed to the rafters, the one-man-band heated up a rainy evening at Blue Smoke in Christchurch last week with his blues and jazz, and that infectious smile.
A lone performer on stage and armed with his guitar, banjo, violin and harmonica, Paxton captivated his Christchurch crowds with his 1920s-style songs.
Paxton, 28, said the blues – like that of his inspirations Fats Waller and Blind Lemon Jefferson – were as relevant now as ever.
“People don’t get the best of the blues… It’s my duty to do my absolute best, and with honesty,” Paxton said.
A master of comedic timing and a natural storyteller, Paxton shared tales of his family and his love of whiskey and women with the crowd, which he made feel more like friends than fans.
He said he loved the “receptive” Kiwi audiences, including the relatively reserved Christchurch audiences when you could hear a pin drop while he sung.
“They want to hear the music and the stories… Some people want to listen real hard.”
However after each song finished, the Christchurch crowd lost all their composure, showing their humbling appreciation for Paxton’s songs.
The audience was in the palm of his large hands, clapping and cheering during his knee-slapping tune and finishing song, When an Ugly Woman Tells You No, which depicts the plight of a young man whose offer of a night of fun to an “ugly woman” is rejected.
One audience member, a seasoned music fan, recalled Paxton’s performance in Lyttelton last year, saying he was in his top three acts he had ever seen.
The fan approached Paxton while he was signing CDs. Paxton remembered him from the Lyttelton show, and the mountain of a man picked up the fan and gave him a loving hug.
On stage, he recalled this performance in Lyttelton last year, where he was “sick as a dog”.
“It was terrible, but the folks still liked it, I don’t know why, but they still dug it.”
After leaving New Zealand, Paxton was en route to Sydney for various shows and for the Byron Bay Bluesfest.