Jontavious Willis and Jerron ‘Blind Boy’ Paxton sing the blues in concert at SECCA

Jontavious Willis and Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton team up for a song at the end of the Crossroads@SECCA concert.

Jontavious Willis and Jerron ‘Blind Boy’ Paxton sing the blues in concert at SECCA
November 21
06:39 2019

By Judie Holcomb-Pack

It can be quite intimidating to perform solo to an almost sold-out venue, but Jontavious Willis and Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton had no trouble keeping the audience entertained during their individual sets at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art’s 22nd Crossroads@SECCA series on Nov. 14. Although both musicians are still in their 20s, they are old pros – and old souls – when it comes to playing the blues.

Willis, 23, graduated this past May with a degree in sociology from Columbus State University in Georgia. He is from Greenwood, S.C., with a population of, he states, “about 850 and over half are my relatives.” He attributed his love of the blues to his grandfather and said they sang gospel music together at Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church when he was growing up.

Before each song, Willis noted when it was written and who had performed it in the past. Most of the blues that he sang were from the 1930s or ‘40s. He is an accomplished guitarist who can make his guitar tell the story through the way it is played. He amazed the audience when he sang a song and played the harmonica at the same time, with the instrument inside his mouth. He talked about “field songs” that people working in cotton and tobacco fields sang as a way of communicating to each other without the overseers understanding the meaning. He explained that some blues songs had been played by performers as diverse as Muddy Waters and Joni Hendrix, each putting their own spin to the music. His rendition of “Catfish Blues” was an audience favorite and “She Might Be Your Woman, But I’m Her Man” had everyone laughing as he sang each verse. It is obvious that Willis is more than a musician; he is a natural storyteller.

Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton couldn’t have grown up more different from Willis, as he is from Los Angeles, Calif. His parents are from Louisiana and trips to the South introduced him to the blues genre. He was just as powerful a performer as Willis and didn’t hold back when it came to telling stories, much to the delight of the audience. When talking about the negativity in today’s social climate, he declared, “If we can stick together, we can hold this s–t back.” His humor continued when he described one song as “going on longer than Ken Burns’ Civil War” and sang what he called a “drinking song” that described how low a man can feel in “An Ugly Woman Told Me No.”

Both musicians performed songs that represented the blues style called the Piedmont Blues, a particular style of music popularized by African Americans in the 1920s to 1940s in the Southeastern U.S. 

Tammy Caudill, a board member who attended the concert, said, “The mission of Piedmont Blues Preservation Society is to keep the blues alive. It is talented young musicians like Jontavious and Blind Boy who are achieving that through not only their contemporary additions to the music genre, but through their entertaining storytelling about the history of the blues culture.” 

The talented duo ended the concert by playing one song together. They received a standing ovation as they exited the stage and made their way to the lobby where they greeted fans, sold CDs and signed posters. They are currently touring under the banner “Two Future Legends of the Blues.”

Willis has two albums out: “Spectacular Class” and “Blue Metamorphosis.” For more information, visit For more information on Paxton, visit View videos of both performers in concert on YouTube.

About Author

WS Chronicle

WS Chronicle

Related Articles


Featured Sponsor

Receive Chronicle Updates

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.



More Sponsors