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Martin Sexton, May 18, Knitting Factory

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In grammar school he belted out Stevie Wonder tunes on the playground at lunch time and kids gathered around to listen. At age 15, he picked up his first guitar and taught himself to play songs off an older sibling's vinyl copy of Frampton Comes Alive. And now, at age 43, Martin Sexton is still following his dreams of being a performer.

His very personal, insightful lyrics strike a chord with people and his limber vocals often causes goose bumps. His inimitable blend of soul, blues, R&B, gospel and country and was shaped while busking in the streets on Harvard Square in Boston in the early 1990s. Sexton's ninth album, Sugarcoating (2010), takes us through what he calls, "an awakening."

"I think in general the machinery of the world doesn't want people being inspired or questioning too much. A lot of my songs, they're questions or they're showing examples of a guy who didn't get the corporate gig and do what he's told," Sexton says. "I've had a bit of an awakening, realizing that I don't believe in red and blue, or left and right anymore. I used to think 'I'm democrat and I'm liberal' and these people who are right-wingers, they're nuts, you know?"

"But I realize that a false paradigm has been projected upon us to keep us, as Americans, divided. Because everybody knows if you want to control someone or have an advantage over a citizenry the first rule is to divide so you can conquer."

His sentiments are explored in Sugarcoating's title track, a cowboy-themed tune that takes an unsettling look at post-9/11 reality and the sweet veneer that permeates the nightly news while our nation is engaged in a war that is discretely making some of our rulers into very wealthy men.

"I think this might be the new '60s, this time we're in now," Sexton says. "I think it might be the time to get out and start saying we've had enough."

Joining Sexton is the Ryan Montbleu Band, which will perform double duty as opening act and back-up band. Die-hard Sexton fans can also look forward to several solo songs from the man whose powerful vocals and multi-dimensional guitar playing have delighted them for nearly two decades.