I wasn’t supposed to be here tonight. But as it turns out, the four hour detour further north was a good idea.
My evening with Martin Sexton at the community theatre in Fargo, North Dakota, was a great time—at a great time. The theatre was very community, seating just a few hundred people, with Martin occupying the small thrust stage within arms reach of everyone in the room. It was a well-mannered room with a pleasant pitch. Martin equated it to giving a song workshop, a nice surprise to him it seemed. I couldn’t help but take the show personally, for more reasons than just the intimacy of the space.
A long drive to Winnipeg awaited him, but he was still generous enough to spend some time with me, talking at length about my trip, sharing a couple stories about past shows, our lives in upstate New York, and about taking risks, hitting the road, and loving what you do.
I recalled a show in 2003, at the Moore Theatre in Seattle, where Martin’s inspired tribute to hometown boy, Jimi Hendrix, left an indelible mark on my friend George and I. There was also a Christmas show in Syracuse about four years ago, where his father and sister joined in on a catalog of yule tunes. Oddly enough, I was visiting my dad in Rochester for a few days at that time, and I told Martin how I dragged him along on the 90 minute drive down the Thruway on that rare winters night. My dad’s only complaint was that he couldn’t understand the words, but I was happy to have his company and to share Martin’s music and family with him, just as I’ve done with many of my friends since. Tonight, aside from the occasional moan from the PA’s low end, Martin’s vocal was crystal clear.
Two months in and my trip may not have the eloquence of Kerouac or Steinbeck’s Travels With Charlie, or the audacity of a Blues Brothers mission from God—so committed to getting the band back together nothing else mattered. I have a lot of uncertainty. Even so, Martin, nor I, think it’s too late for a 43 year old soul to be a better man. Or that taking off on such a trip means that I’m not already.
Ever since Northampton in ’98 when Kristen put “Diner” on a mix tape for me, Martin Sexton’s music has been a constant companion and soundtrack to my hits, my misses, my romances, and my travels with Wes. Anyway, this evening was a real treat for me and I’m very grateful to Georganne, Kevin and Martin, who warmed my heart in a very cold town. Thank you.