On the Road Again

In 2009, musician Will Sexton suffered a small stroke just before the release of his album Move the Balance. According to his recent press release, Sexton was unable, at that time, to recall the music he had performed or written. But he had a clear goal to continue his music, and great support from the music community in Austin, Texas. Sexton has also made a full recovery and is now out on the road promoting the album.

During the past year he has performed from Fitzgerald’s in Chicago, to Antone’s Nightclub in Austin. His past writing credits include working with Stephen Stills from Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young to Joe Ely and Waylon Jennings. During the recent holidays, Sexton was interviewed by Jupiter Index about his love of music and what the future holds for him.

What would you say have been your top ten memories in music?
Will Sexton:
1.  Palindrome Studios with David Baerwald.  We spent several years making music with various artists at the highest level of integrity that I've ever been a part of as well as a damn good time.

2.  The rehearsals with Roky Erikson.  Just the two of us sizing up the coming shows.  Very bizarro and carnivalesque. 

3. Christmas holiday in Santa Fe with the Allen Family (Terry and Jo Harvey).  The experience of playing in a casual nature with such intense artistry.  For example, sitting in the living room swapping songs and in comes this voice and you're thinking, sh*t, that's David Byrne... To see that kind of genius stripped down without the big production value of his concerts just shining in his pure talent.

4. I played with Ron Wood a couple of times.  One occasion was an impromptu jam at Manor Downs, and on that particular night Ronnie Lane and Ian McLagan were in the room and the force of those three is truly amazing. 

5. Camping with Townes, summer of 1986. Little Arkansas Campground in Wimberley, TX.  I had a tour starting in a week, and Townes was teaching me a song called Ain't Leaving Your Love in a spirited night.  He recommended that I sing this song of his, and I've been singing it ever since.

6. My brother and I played a tribute to the past in Dallas, TX, where Sam Moore, The Shirelles, and Chuck Berry were performing.  My brother and I had met Chuck Berry in the late 70s as kids and he wasn't very nice.  But on this gig, at the end of the night, Charlie ended up playing with Chuck Berry, and Chuck was so complimentary of his playing, it was a very proud moment. 

7. Billy Bremner, one of my favorite guitar players of all time, was in Austin for a while.  He played a couple tours with Kelly Willis and Rosie Flores.  I was in L.A., and Rosie came into town and invited me to the show.  Billy invited me to sit in, but there was only one amp.  He told me to just plug into his other imput on his Fender, so I did, and we supported the small amp's capacity.  I also met one of the loveliest men I've ever encountered. 

8. Austin City Limits W.C. Clark Birthday Concert, with Jimmie Vaughan, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Lou Ann Barton.  As a youngster, I was so excited to be on such a prestigious program and to be playing with my friends who had taught and influenced me.  They all happened to be major rock stars at this point, and that moment really represents the family of Austin musicians that I was raised by. 

9. Playing the David Letterman Show last year with Sahara Smith.  After my stroke, I immediately started touring with Sahara, and I was still very foggy and couldn't always trust what I was thinking and feeling. But standing on that stage had me wondering, "How did I get here from there?", in my post-stroke haziness. 

10. Writing with Waylon, right before he passed away. Having the opportunity to sit and hear the stories of Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison, and Sonny Curtis.  I had written a lot with Lubbock artists who were a generation older than me, and then to have this other channel of information, from one more generation removed, colored and expressed by his life and story. 

Who would you choose for your top ten list of up-and-coming artists? 
 1. Tarl Knight - Green Bay, WI
2. Anthony Walker - New Jersey
3. John Fullbright - Okema, OK
4. Sahara Smith - Wimberley, TX
5. Ruby Jane - Mississippi/ Austin, TX
6. Finley Rose - Austin, TX
7. Grace London - Austin, TX
8. Peterson Brothers - Austin, TX
9. Meagan Carney - Austin, TX
10. Nick Gimby - Austin, TX

If stuck on a desert island, which ten CDs/L.P.s would you most want with you?

1. Randy Newman - Sail Away (that way I get Randy Newman, Ry Cooder, and Jim Keltner all in one)

2. Townes Van Zandt - Flying Shoes (one of his many perfect records)

3. Amalia Rodrigues - Hemisphere Collection

4. The Kinks - Lola versus Powerman and the Money-Go-Round (to give a little corruption and greed in the stillness of island life)

5. James Brown - Live at the Apollo

6. Roy Orbison - Greatest Hits 

7. Lou Reed - Berlin (it's like a movie)

8. Marianne Faithfull - A Child's Adventure

9. Rickie Lee Jones - Traffic From Paradise  (Rickie Lee Jones and Marianne Faithfull are my mainstay lullabies.)

10. Sam Cooke - Night Beat

What would be your top ten music concerts you’ve most enjoyed?
1. Randy Newman at Austin City Limits
2. Keith Richards - the first gig of the expensive Winos in New York
3. Rockpile - Armadillo World Headquarters
4. James Brown - Antone's 
5. Tom Waits - 1987 in Minneapolis
6. Bob Dylan - 1988 Radio City
7. Ray Davies - La Zona Rosa
8. Albert Collins - Soap Creek Saloon 1978
9. Tom Petty with the Replacements - 1989 
10. My benefit.  The most heartfelt outpouring of support I've ever received from my music community.  I wasn't fully recovered yet, so the whole thing was a surreal experience, played out in front of me like a perfect dream. 

Would you like to add to anything else you have said?
I'm very excited to start working on a new record for a project we're calling Willton Faye.  Myself, Charlie Faye, Jay Bellerose and Jennifer Condos will be recording songs with our friend Dave Way.  I'm also looking forward to touring with my recent release Move The Balance in the upcoming year. 

by G.M. Burns