Martin Sexton Mixes Things Up
On the Road with Brothers McCann
A Feature Article by Rich and Laura Lynch

Less than two weeks after enduring a personal tragedy that saw his family home in Saranac Lake, New York burn to the ground two days after Christmas the acclaimed and uplifting singer-songwriter Martin Sexton was back on the road with a stop at the bergenPAC in Englewood, New Jersey on January 10, 2015.

Martin Sexton Mixes Things Up On the Road with Brothers McCann
Martin Sexton takes the stage at the bergenPAC in New Jersey.

In fact, Sexton was on fire and made no mention of the incident from the stage on Saturday during his two-hour plus performance that served to warm the bergenPAC patrons during a particularly cold week in the region. Martin was all business as he mixed things up in a set that featured his classics along with tracks from his new album Mixtape of the Open Road due out on February 10, 2015.

Martin is known for beatbox and scat singing guitar solos in soundscapes that cross blues, country, gospel, R&B, rock and soul and his music is known to travel through a range of satisfying musical territories. Martin has collaborated with an array of artists including Peter Frampton and John Mayer. Sexton's songs have also been featured on TV. His concert at the bergenPAC was focused mainly on strumming and singing.

Opening for Martin Sexton was Brothers McCann from Boston, Massachusetts. The trio presented rustic reinvented folk-rock with three part harmonies backed by acoustic guitars and keyboards. The first song of their set featured fine picking patterns with taps to the bodies of the guitars for subtle beats with keys punctuating their colorful harmonies. The bergenPAC attendees were quickly won over by these personable and polished players.

Martin Sexton Mixes Things Up On the Road with Brothers McCann
Martin and the Brothers McCann sang a number of songs together.

"Thrilled to be opening for Martin Sexton," they declared as they explained that "In The Mood" from their Days of Ease album was a song about skipping work. Slaps to the guitar strings added to the sassiness of the song. "Each Second" was a melodic call to seize the moment. The tune was dedicated to a guy name Steve - a stranger who had returned a wallet. The last song of their engaging show was described as a hopeful sinner's anthem. It was a spirited piece that showcased the McCann Brothers strong vocal blends.

The stark stage set did not change much for headliner Martin Sexton who was enthusiastically greeted by his fans. He strolled out armed with just an acoustic and his voice. Without a band he still effectively carried the show. Martin's singing range ran from gritty to graceful high notes. Sexton was expressive, captivating the attentive audience with his well sung stories.

"There Go I" was soulful as Martin crafted both lead and rhythms on the guitar. A method used often throughout the show. "Happy" flowed on different singing styles that featured some call back and forth lyrics with his followers. In addition to varied vocals, Sexton used an array of strumming techniques to add more textures to his musical journey. His versatile instrumentation and varied vocal stylings was impressive to say the least.

As he was switching guitars, Sexton realized that the strap knob was broken. He mused that he viewed shitty things like that in life as fertilizer. At that point he decided to sit down for a number of tunes. He presented the bluesy "Can't Stop Thinking About You" in a more gravelly tone that suited the mood of the track.

Martin Sexton Mixes Things Up On the Road with Brothers McCann
Martin Sexton's new Mixtape of the Open Road is due in early 2015.

Martin mentioned his new record Mixtape of the Open Road as an introduction to a number of new songs. One featured innovative sound effects melded into the idea of not doing anything right for his wife. Martin invited the Brothers McCann to join him for a number of tunes. They contributed extra emotion to the solemn "My Maria". Sexton described his next song as The Beach Boys meets pioneers. The western flavored "The American" packed a punch with its imagery paired with multi-part harmonies.

Martin tried out another new track that was a piece about precious time spent with his son before going on the road. It was a sentimental song paired with sweet strumming. Sexton bantered a bit recalling when a DJ had responded in anger to the Dixie Chicks for political remarks the group had made during the Bush years. This inspired Martin to write the snappy "Shut Up and Sing". "The Way" closed the set with a unique New Jersey yodel. The encore "Glory Bound" traversed rock and gospel with the Brothers McCann back to fill out the choir. Martin Sexton effectively carried his concert in a simple yet stirring trek of tales told in many voices punctuated by a fiery guitar performance.

The bergenPAC located in the heart of downtown Englewood continues to hosts a broad range of artists such as Martin Sexton. Upcoming shows at the theater include Sha Na Na, Kashmir, Sid the Science Kid, Vince Gill & Lyle Lovett, Spank and Mummenschanz.

Martin Sexton Mixes Things Up On the Road with Brothers McCann

Related Links: For more information on MARTIX SEXTON and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links -- Martin Sexton | Brothers McCann | bergenPAC

(Originally Published on January 12, 2015)




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