Martin Sexton took the stage with his band, The Ryan Montbleau Band on May 20th 2010, at the Ogden Theatre in Denver, CO. Touring together all summer, Martin and his band will be opening for Dave Matthews for a string of dates as well as playing the Bonnaroo festival this summer. As the casual 6 piece Ryan Montbleau Band warmed up the crowd with a lava lamp on stage, overheard in the crowd was,
“That song Jealous was pretty good.”
“That was a John Lennon song.”
“No way!! I can’t believe I didn’t recognize that!”
Montbleau’s youthful gaze is matched with his lyrics, “as my young body ached for an old man’s vision”. They played the popular tune 75 and Sunny as well as John Lennon’s Jealous Guy, and Songbird, a tune with reggae tones and a flavor of Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds. Montbleau's lyrics were tender and sweet, “you are the song I love to sing.”
Surveying the crowd, there was a lot of love in the room. Couples were holding hands, resting their heads on each others’ shoulders, and starry eyed smiles abounded. Martin Sexton is all about the universal love. This performance illustrated not only his love of music, his love of playing music, but his love and respect for the people that gather to hear his music. Martin Sexton makes people fall in love over and over again.
I had the chance to interview Sexton previous to his tour. I have read that Ray LaMontagne credits his singing voice to singing from his gut. When I asked Martin about this he responded, “I sing from the inspirational channel. Sometimes I sing from the gut, sometimes from the crown chakra, the throat… I try to use my whole body to channel that spirit of music and the energy of the audience.”
When Sexton took the stage at the Ogden he approached the microphone, “Welcome my brothers and sisters!” Ironic, both Montbleau and Sexton throughout the performance added in freestyle lyrics to include Denver. The crowd responded in graciousness as pleased to have the artists in their city, yet here was Martin returning their welcome. I counted the many references both artists made to location. Included were:
“Mile High City taking my breath away!” –Ryan Montbleau
“Angels in Denver Town!” – Martin Sexton
“It’s the Mile High choir of angels!” – Martin Sexton
The Ryan Montbleau Band returned to stage to back up Sexton, but this time they were much more formal. All 6 members had suits and ties on. For a road poet like Sexton, suits and ties seemed another ironic twist. However, when you consider the miles that the audience feels under their feet with the beat of the music, the bumps in the road, and the perpetuation of moving even while not physically in motion, it’s nice to have a professional crew at the helm of the ship. Together with these performers, the audience is going places.
“Is there anybody out there chasing their dreams tonight?” Sexton is encouraging and truly achieves what he set out to do as an inspirational channel. He motions towards members of the band, “he used to be a substitute teacher, and what did you used to do? Ah yes, the man behind the keys was an insurance man.” They dive right into Living the Life, a song about making your life one worth living and following whatever your heart desires, also Sexton’s first release from the new album Sugarcoating.
Sexton is like a maestro bringing not only the tempo and pace of the music high and then low, but the entire cycle of energy between himself and the audience up and then down again. At this point the band stepped off stage and Sexton was stripped down to a solo stride and performed his tune Hallelujah. The connection had the audience if not singing with gusto, simply breathing the word, “Hallelujah.” Continuing on with his tune Glorybound, you can see how another of Sexton’s tracks Love Keeps Us Together ended up on the rare-hard-to-find compilation album Southbound. His gut wrenching personal antidote recounts in the lyrics,
“So I packed it up and I went to the winds
And I lived out of VW bus for a year or two
Ain’t nothing but a pipe dream and my guitar
Livin off of apple fields and old cigars.”
Overheard in the audience was an old time Sexton fan, “yes! Nothing but a pipe dream!” Sexton and his audience had reached that bond that looks as good as total trust gold. The crowd thrusts forward to show him support and he channels himself even deeper to return that support. At this point Sexton announces, “Can you feel that?! The spirit is just filling up in this place! It’s just filling up with peace and love in here!”
And with that, the band returns, the volume is turned up, and the fun dial has been cranked. Sexton tells the audience “We’re gonna get freaky!” The band goes on to tease some old skool Michael Jackson Shake Your Body Down to the Ground, some Led Zeppelin, and again pressed the crazy button on the audience. The volume on the love dial was turned all the way up.
Sexton’s tour will continue to broadcast the love, no doubt. As he closed the show he told us all “I’m feeling blessed.” Clearly he is feeling as the audience is as well. Sing Martin! Continue to share your blessings and take some of Denver’s blessings with you on your way.