The young folk musician Jerron Paxton defies easy categorization. He grew up in a west coast metropolis, but his family and community adhered to customs from the rural south. And, like a number of people in Los Angeles with Louisiana roots, he inherited a combination of African-American, American Indian, and Jewish heritage. Paxton plays acoustic music that reflects these origins, with a focus on solo fiddle, guitar, and banjo. He also has a passion for telling his family’s story:
People don’t know who I am, so I usually tell the history of my people and where I come from. Specific history about my great-grandfather and great-grandmother on down to me. I almost feel like an ambassador of the culture. It gives me a tremendous amount of joy to know that the things and the people I grew up with -- I can pass on the lessons they taught me and the culture they’ve given me.
On episode 11 of American Songster Radio, host Dom Flemons speaks with Paxton about the formative experience of growing up in South-Central Los Angeles and the connections between Judaism and roots music as forms of cultural memory. Flemons also shares a recording of Jerron’s February 2017 live set at the Fletcher Opera Theater in Raleigh, North Carolina.