News from the Jubilee
Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton headlines 13th National Jug Band Jubilee
LOUISVILLE, KY, (June 16, 2017) – The National Jug Band Jubilee is excited to announce that Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton will headline its 2017 festival. The Los Angeles-born vocalist and multi-instrumentalist was recently featured in the “American Epic Sessions,” the last episode of the four-part PBS documentary American Epic which chronicled the development of American roots music. Paxton’s music draws from country blues and early jazz music. According to Will Friedwald of the Wall Street Journal, Paxton is “virtually the only music-maker of his generation – playing guitar, banjo, piano and violin, among other implements – to fully assimilate the blues idiom of the 1920s and ’30s, the blues of Bessie Smith and Lonnie Johnson.”
Paxton’s grandparents moved from Louisiana to California in 1956. These southern roots had a profound impact on him. Listening to his hometown blues radio station, as well as the old Cajun and country blues songs his grandmother used to sing, Paxton became interested in these early sounds. He began playing the fiddle when he was 12, and picked up the banjo two years later. He has since added piano, harmonica, Cajun accordion, ukulele, guitar, and the bones to his musical arsenal. Paxton, who is legally blind, is one of the few African American banjo players touring today.
The 2017 National Jug Band Jubilee takes place at the Brown-Forman Amphitheater on River Road in Waterfront Park on Saturday, September 16. Festivities start at Noon. In addition to hosting some of the greatest jug bands from around the world, the 2017 Jubilee will include an expanded vending area featuring food trucks, local artists, and children’s workshops between bands. This is a FREE and family-friendly event. We are also excited that several jug bands that are in town for the Jubilee will be doing shows in local elementary schools on Friday, Sept 15th. This furthers our mission of education and preserving this unique form of Americana music that got its start here in Louisville.
The National Jug Band Jubilee was created to celebrate the legacy of jug band music in the River City. Louisville is the acknowledged home of jug band music, a pre-war jazz style that features traditional and homemade instruments. In the late 19th century, African American musicians walked the streets of the River City playing tunes on improvised instruments like empty liquor jugs (“the poor man’s tuba”), kazoos and washboards. By the time the sound reached its peak in the 1930s, it had infiltrated towns up and down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, especially Memphis and New Orleans.