I like music, but I don’t go crazy over it. I grew up in a musical family, and after begging my mother to release me from piano and violin lessons because that’s not what cool middle school kids did, I taught myself guitar because ALL the cool kids played guitar. I began liking the music that was easy to play within my wheelhouse of the G, C, and A chords and burnt CD’s with sharpie’d titles of Jack Johnson, John Mayer and the occasional Bob Marley began filling my car. I would go to concerts, but it was usually only because a group of people (hopefully cool people) were going, and I was a social sheep. It wasn’t until college that I stumbled upon the artist that would change all that.
His name is Martin Sexton. Most people quickly shoot back a confused “Who?” whenever I start talking about what musicians I like, mainly because they’ve never heard of him, and probably also because his last name has the word “sex” in it. I remember hearing his music for the first time like it was yesterday. It was on an episode of Scrubs, who’s music is sought out by Zach Braff, the main character, when the song came on during a montage part of the episode. It was such a good song, I took to Youtube, scrolling through hundreds of viewer comments looking for a name. Finally I found it, and spent the rest of the night listening and re-listening to every song Martin Sexton had ever performed.
In my opinion, there are three types of musical acts. There are those with amazing vocals, and either skate by on mediocre instrumental talents or let their band pick up all the slack. See Adele, Duffy, and Ray LaMontagne. There are those who play the opposite angle, and have ridiculous talents on their specific instrument, but don’t have the strongest vocals. See John Mayer, Brad Paisley, Jimi Hindrix.
Then there are those rare musical unicorns made of gold that only eat four leaf clovers. Those musicians that have powerful, wide-ranged vocals coupled with a mixture of natural talent and learned skills on one or multiple instruments. Even more scarce are if these musicians can independently write their own lyrics and accompanying music. So rare are these people, that those who have this combination of skills and talents usually become well known. See The Beatles, John Legend, and Stevie Wonder.
Martin Sexton is no exception. His vocal range should be measured in light years, not octaves, and he can make one guitar sound like an entire band. I saw him, just last night, in Savannah. I had almost forgotten the reason I loved him so much until the first note came out of his mouth. He’s so sharply in tuned live that rarely does he produce an album that's mixed in a studio, and in my personal opinion, he sounds better live than on any of his records.
I realized last night, my fourth time to see him, and third time to travel over 100 miles to do so, that I had become "that fan." I had become the 16 yr old girl that swoons over NSYNC or the face painted KISS fan. Granted, I didn’t have glitter covered posters confessing my undying love or hairspray teased 80’s hair, but I did know every word to every song.
I knew every song even before he started playing it, simply from the story he would tell to set it up. I was the fan that was so in love with the musician, everyone else at the concert instantly became my lifelong friend, simply from the fact that they were there. Nodding my head, clapping, and pretty much white boy dancing to the beat, because each song was better than the last.
When he finished his set, we all, of course, cheered and cheered for an encore, which we received. After the show, I waited by the side door for him to come out as most people left. I, along with probably 10 other die hard fans, cornered him outside for autographs and pictures. I felt like a little kid meeting santa for the first time. I rehearsed a few lines in my head but after someone in front of me took a picture with him all I could blurt out was “Me next!” I might have squeezed his shoulder a little too hard because in one of the pictures, he looks a little concerned.
I thought all this relevant, as this week is Music Week on Charleston Grit, and couldn’t contain the excitement from my experience any longer. I feel the need to spread the good word of Martin Sexton to all peoples, so that they too, may enjoy a musical unicorn made of gold. If you’ve never heard of Martin Sexton, let this song be your first taste.
(Images via heyreverb, thedistrictsf)