The Black and Jewish “Blind Boy” of Blues


Ten years ago a Jewish reggae musician named Matisyahu took the world by storm. His music was catchy and heartfelt, and it helped that his look was a novelty: a white Hasidic man in a genre of music mostly associated with black people. Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton is next in line to Matisyahu’s throne. He’s a visually impaired blues musician who plays banjo, fiddle, guitar, piano and a handful of other instruments, all in the style of 1920s and 1930s blues. And he’s a black Jew.

Named “the most sensational newcomer in the blues in many years,” Paxton’s received rave reviews from The New York TimesThe Wall Street Journal, and The Irish Times. In interviews, his accent and diction are as old-timey and Southern as his music, despite growing up in Los Angeles in the 1990s. Paxton also wears a yarmulke, doesn’t travel on Shabbat, and includes a song in his set about kosher cooking on the Delta.

If Matisyahu provided new ways for Jews to connect with traditionally black music, Paxton is taking that idea to a whole other level, with virtuoso talent to boot.

Watch Blind Boy Paxton play:

Recommended from JTA