Martin Sexton has enviable freedom in his career and his own record label

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:: Martin Sexton ::
:: Mile High Music Festival ::
:: July 20 :: (time slot tba) ::

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By Timothy Dwenger

In many ways, Martin Sexton is a new breed of soul singer. His music is an amalgam of folk, pop and gospel that blends effortlessly to create a feel-good sound that immediately transports the listener to another world. While Sexton’s introspective lyrics and intricate song structure have won him the recognition of critics and fans alike, it is his delivery that truly sets him apart from other artists. Sexton sings from his heart and bares his soul onstage. He is an inspiring performer whose energy and passion are channeled through his voice.

Sexton’s laid-back style and unrushed pace are hallmarks of his lifestyle. He and his family make their home in the quaint Massachusetts town of Northampton and spend their summers on a lake in the Adirondack Park of upstate New York. “I think the Adirondack Park is the most beautiful place on earth,” he said in a recent interview with The Marquee. “I would live up there year round if I could.”

With his last three albums released on his own Kitchen Table Records, Sexton is not just another cog in the wheel of a mega record label and has the enviable freedom to pick and choose his touring schedule. “My summer touring has always been light,” he said. “I just like to be up there in the woods and I don’t like to be on long tours during the summer.”

This summer he was fortunate enough to be able to book one of his gigs at a venue right on the lake where he summers. “I’m gonna ride my boat to it,” he said excitedly. “I’m doing a show at the town hall and it’s actually right by the public docks so I can just pull up in my boat and do the gig.”

The family’s vacation home also seems to be a source of inspiration to the musical part of his soul. A bulk of his most recent album, Seeds, was recorded and mixed at the cabin. “We recorded a lot of it up there on the lake,” he said. “We did the basic tracks, drums, B3 and all that big stuff in the studio and then all the overdubs, like vocals, guitars and percussion, we did up there. It was so wonderful, if we got a little burnt-out trying to get the right sound we’d throw a line in the water or jump in the lake or barbeque some ribs or something.” The result of these sessions was a collection of very organic feeling songs that flow effortlessly through the album. They are songs that were recorded in one very well thought-out arrangement and over time have taken on a life of their own and evolved into something much more dynamic.

“Since its release, the songs on Seeds have grown like vines,” Sexton said. “It’s like when you plant a nice lilac tree in the yard. At first it’s just there and it’s nice and neat and the way it’s supposed to be, and then it kinda fills out and grows and gets these beautiful little blossoms on it.
That’s what happens to my songs as I play them. They start to take on little lives of their own and they become like a set of monkey bars for me to play on every night in a different way so as not to get bored with them.”

While talking about his plans for relaxing this summer with his family, Sexton revealed that he recently started to work on another project. “We were just up there last week and started mixing a live record. We are aiming for an October release and I’m just now trying to get the best takes from last year’s tour and put them on one record. One disc will be solo and one will be with the band.”

Given his connection to nature, it is hardly a wonder that Sexton is also a passionate environmentalist. Over the last several years he has been progressively trying to reduce his carbon footprint as he tours the country in a bio-diesel fueled bus. “It’s very doable to be environmentally conscious on the road and it’s not painful at all. Plus, it feels good,” he said. “It’s not a big chore to make sure that the promoters are providing recycling bins backstage and that they are providing organic vittles and all that stuff. The only difficult thing is finding bio-diesel fuel, but it works and somehow we always find out where it is and fill up when we need to. Overall, the pay-off is immense.”

Unfortunately, given his passion for spending his summer with his family at the cabin, Sexton is forced to fly to many of his summer gigs. He usually only agrees to one-off or weekend runs that are necessary to bring in some income and remain relevant and in touch with the scene. Sometimes there are offers that he can’t pass up and his appearance at the Mile High Music Festival is a perfect example. “We were just working out the logistics for that weekend the other day. Unfortunately, it’s going to be a lot of flying and that’s my least favorite part of my job. I am playing a festival in Wyoming on Friday and one in Vancouver on Saturday and then I’ll make it into Denver by the skin of my teeth for the show there,” he said. “In lots of ways it would be nice if I was out on tour with the band, the crew and the bus cause then we could just roll in, but as it is they’re all solo gigs and I’ve got to do the flying thing.”

:: Martin Sexton ::
:: Mile High Music Festival ::
:: July 20 :: (time slot tba) ::

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