PORT TOWNSEND, WA – Jerron Paxton has been named artistic director of Centrum’s Acoustic Blues Festival and Workshop. succeeding Daryl Davis.
“Centrum is a place very close to my heart,” Paxton said. “I am so grateful and excited to be able to serve and grow closer to the unique community at Centrum in this new capacity.”
Now in its 23rd year, Blues Fest takes place July 26-Aug. 2, 2015 at Fort Worden.
Davis had been artistic director since 2012.
“Daryl Davis remains an invaluable partner with Centrum,” said Centrum executive director Robert Birman. “We are honored by his expert contributions and leadership and are pleased that he will be continuing his affiliation with us during this transition.”
In response to the change, Centrum’s Acoustic Blues program manager Mary Hilts added, “Jerron [Paxton] is a young man with an old soul. He embodies the essence of traditional folk and blues with a wit and charm that bridges generations. He has a unique ability to collaborate with a diverse array of professional musicians while attracting youth to the genre. We’re delighted that he will help lead the growth of the Acoustic Blues Festival.”
Paxton has considerable shoes to fill, said Hilts.
“Daryl has always been in tune with the needs and desires of our participants. He listened and found ways to provide new opportunities for musicians to connect with the Blues genre and its history,” Hilts said. “He is deeply respected by the Blues community and Centrum has benefitted greatly from his leadership.”
Davis said he plans to retire from performing full-time and focus on new ventures, including opening two music-publishing companies and releasing the sequel to his first book (“Klan-Destine Relationships: A Black Man’s Odyssey in the Ku Klux Klan,” published in 1998 by New Horizon Press) on race relations and the Ku Klux Klan.
In 2015, Davis resumes his teaching role at Centrum, instructing pianists.
“I look forward to supporting this wonderful program and its development to best of my abilities and to the leadership and direction of my successor Jerron Paxton,” he said.
Paxton was first introduced to Centrum and the Acoustic Blues Festival at the age of 19. He served on the faculty from 2008-2010 and again in 2013, and is skilled on a variety of instruments (fiddle, banjo, piano, harmonica, Cajun accordion, ukulele, guitar and bones) and several genres.
“The Blues is the most beautiful music in America and it has the power to draw in all people, young and old,” he said. “I want those who come to Centrum to hear that music played by the best and to play with the best so that they can build that admiration and take that love and that music home with them.”
Paxton and Hilts will be completing next year’s faculty hires together this month. Enrollment for Centrum’s 2015 Acoustic Blues Workshop is now open. Musicians of all ages are welcome to register online at centrum.org.