Mark Sexton Band making waves beyond Tahoe after start 10 years ago in Reno
If you go
What: The Mark Sexton Band
When: Friday night, Nov. 20 (after Jackie Greene’s set in the Crown Room)
Where: Crystal Bay Casino Red Room
Learn more: crystalbaycasino.com
CRYSTAL BAY, Nev. — A decade ago, Mark Sexton was a fixture in Reno coffee shops.
Wielding a guitar and a smooth-singing voice, Sexton, like many aspiring musicians, first unspooled his soulful songs to the public in tiny rooms that wafted of espresso and were crammed with caffeinated undergrads.
“I was performing as a singer-songwriter as often as I could in Reno and the Reno area — playing as much I could,” said Sexton, who now lives in Truckee.
Sexton turned so many heads from their books and laptops that, unlike many aspiring musicians, he managed to graduate on to much bigger rooms throughout the greater Tahoe-Truckee-Reno area.
And now, 10 years later, Sexton’s West Coast-steeped soul and funk quartet, the Mark Sexton Band — which includes Alex Korostinski (bass), Dan Weiss (drums) and Ryan Taylor (keyboard) — has been a fixture in venues and festivals all over the western states.
GETTING SERIOUS ABOUT IT
The path to becoming a touring band, however, had its hurdles.
“Before we graduated (college), we were playing a lot of bars and getting kicked out for lying about our age,” recalled Sexton, who attended the University of Nevada, Reno. “The whole time we were in school we daydreamed about being on tour. We counted on summer or any break we had — winter break, spring break — and would send emails to venues and plot a tour as soon as school got out.
“We got really serious about it when we graduated from college and were ready to pull the trigger on doing it full time. We wanted to do it while we’re young and see how far we can go with it.”
If their impressive run thus far is any indication, the Mark Sexton Band has a long and busy road ahead.
Playing upward of 150 shows in a year, the band has highlights that include appearances at Bluesapalooza, Railroad Earth’s Hangtown Halloween Ball and Wanderlust Festival in Squaw Valley.
Perhaps one of the band’s biggest honors, though, came last year when the group opened for Grammy-winner Macy Gray in the Crystal Bay Casino’s famed Crown Room.
CAPTURING A NEW SOUND
Along the way, the Mark Sexton Band has recorded an 11-track album (2010’s “Listen Out”) and a six-track EP (2013’s “Young and Naïve”), and they’re currently working on their second full-length album, due out in 2016.
“We’re really excited about the album,” Sexton said. “The production quality of it and the songs are a big step ahead of where we were before.”
Specifically, Sexton said their new album is a turning point in the evolution of their sound, which he dubbed “fresh nostalgic.”
To capture that sound, the band reverted to old-fashioned forms of recording. Gone were the computers. Gone were isolation booths. Gone was tracking one instrument at a time.
Instead, the Mark Sexton Band set up shop in the same studio room, tracking all their songs live, recording to 2-inch analog tape.
“To tape with less options, we just liked the rawness you get when you record like that,” Sexton said. “I think it had something to do with just growing up with that music; what I consider to be, at its core, the good ol’ music.
“I grew up signing a lot to Stevie Wonder and Frank Sinatra. It feels true to yourself when it (the sound) goes back there.”
‘A REAL GOOD LOCAL FOLLOWING’
The Mark Sexton Band’s new material, and their earlier stuff, can be seen performed Friday night at North Lake Tahoe.
The band will play at the Crystal Bay Casino’s Red Room as the free after party for Jackie Greene, who’s playing a solo acoustic show at 9 p.m. in the Crown Room.
“We’ve played with Jackie Greene a few times before and it’s always a good time,” Sexton said. “I think our crowds go well together, it’s a good crossover. And Crystal Bay Club is just one of our favorite venues to play at; the sound system is great and we always have a good crowd. We’re stoked.”
Added CBC General Manager Bill Wood: “Mark’s been playing here quite awhile. He’s got a real good local following and everybody really appreciates his music.”
Read more about the Mark Sexton Band and marksextonband.com.
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