This is the second show in this year's Future Juke festival I've attended and this one is all kinds of wonderful and at times just jaw dropping. In many ways it is just a great night out for anyone that loves the blues, even if watching Jerron Blind Boy Paxton perform live...well, I think my dad would have loved him even more than I did.
I arrived about 5 minutes after Nia Wyn came on so could hear this incredibly powerful voice while I was grabbing a beer at the bar and it wasn't till I walked in to find a seat that I had to do a double take as the astonishing voice doesn't go with or I wouldn't expect it to go with the young woman on stage who is dressed in an early 70's Skinhead fashion but with hair that's a cross between Crystal Gayle and Loretta Lynn back in the day.
She was singing about needing the lord to help her in this incredible voice that was quite high and a bit like early Dolly Parton. Then she spoke in-between songs and, damn, her voice dropped an octave or two as her speaking voice seemed a lot deeper but with a Welsh twang via North London as she told us the next song was her new single. It's also been produced by Paul Weller who provides the song's backing vocals on the records and then she sang the quite brilliant Turnstiles: a song full of strong emotions and a damn good story.
The next song Did They Ever Try has a strong blues element and her guitar playing is pretty great but she is in places obviously only playing the parts she would with a band so it's sparse but very effective. Leave My Bed is as good a kiss off of a song as you'll hear anywhere as she kicks out some bloke who's outstayed his welcome. It's highly emotional and she's unafraid to really pour her soul into it.
She then announces she's going to sing a Nina Simone song and does a glorious version of Only Love Will See Us Through, which towards the end morphs into a Platters song. At the end she tells us how much she love The Platters which is not something many young acts say on stage these days!
She closed with Do I Love Enough: another great new blues soul song that sounds like it might be a stomper with a full band but stripped back like this it just makes me sit and listen to every emotion filled word she sings.
A great young talent that really needs to be seen and heard live for the full incredible power of her voice to bewitch you. If she doesn't make it in the next couple of years there really is no justice as the world really needs another great Welsh Blues Woman.
After the break, Jerron Blind Boy Paxton comes on. He apparently went blind at the age of 16 and has only some peripheral vision left, not that it matters one jot when it comes to his performance and talent. The fact that he really doesn't dig much music made after 1934 makes him rather old timey and in many respects he's exactly the sort of Blues man my dad always made me listen to as a kid.
Jerron broke with normal rules by immediately asking if anyone had any requests before he'd even played a note. He then played the song he heard most requests for - Candyman that I believe was the old Mississippi John Hurt song that he played seated on a totally acoustic guitar tpicked up by the old school valve microphone he also sang into. Damn what a voice and player and while he's picking at the guitar he's also throwing out asides and witty comments in a way that I don't think I've heard done so well since I saw Slim Gaillard back in the 1980's and Jerron has a lot in common with Slim.
He then did a great version of the old Nancy Whiskey/Weavers hit Freight Train: a song that still sounds great and he more than does justice to it. In-between songs Jerron tells us stories of his life and of the life of the songs he's singing and let's face it, Alabama Bound has been sung by so many people over the years that he can quote all sorts of people before he picks his way through a stellar version that takes it back to the plantation and sharecropper roots of the song.
Jerron then switched to playing a 1848 banjo and made some jokes about how much the instrument hums in the heat. Wow, that boy can pick a banjo and make the resonator box work to his advantage. I wish my writing was clear enough to say what the first song performed with the banjo was.
It was followed by his toasting us with his cup of tea that might be whiskey and then reeling off a very cool toast to the demon alcohol as he picked up his violin for Rye Whisky. That got a good portion of the audience stomping along with it, only Jerron stopped the song to point out that they were firstly clapping and stomping all over a waltz and that is was the wrong song to clap along to! Damn I've never seen anyone do that but it was done wonderfully and the waltz sounded great without the clapping anyway.
He then switched to Harmonica to go all Lightnin' Hopkins on us with a very cool version of Santa Fe Blues that included him telling us about his time working on the rails and his surprise to find that women are wearing dungarees for fashion and he doesn't fit into the ones in the shops here!!
We then got the second Nina Simone song of the night. No, she didn't write it but she did do a great version of You've Been Gone Too Long and the one Jerron picks out on his guitar is spot on and very dextrous in places. He sounds like Big Bill Broonzy does on the recordings from his UK tour in the 1950's as a real blues scholar.
The Consumers Rag sounds real cool and has a feel somewhere between Slim Gaillard and Big Bill Broonzy. He then switches back to that 1848 Banjo and gives a long intro into a magical version of Lorena: a song that dates back to the American Civil war (at least) and yet still sounds good today.
Jerron then ambles over to the grand piano and transforms into a modern day Roosevelt Sykes with, as ever, hints of Slim Gaillard for some good old Mississippi blues piano. Damn, he can't half play those ivories as he demonstrates on a solo before he plays The Very thought Of You that is thankfully more Nat King Cole than it is Al Bowlly.
He then scats his way through I Ain't Got Nobody that has as much Mills Brothers in it as it does Marion Harris and thankfully no Dave Lee Roth. It's a great way to end a pretty stunning set.
Of course the Bush Hall goes nuts for a well-deserved encore that starts off with a great Zydeco harmonica song that gets everyone really going, before he finishes with what I think from my garbled notes was a bit of a blues medley. Whatever, he was damn near perfect all night long and an absolute must see performer for anyone who wants to see a real blues scholar play who will make sure you go home totally entertained and enriched.