I was lucky enough to tour the Austin City Limits TV studio before it changed locations. It was so weird to be inside and see how small it really was. I never saw a show there, but I could imagine how great it must’ve been, being in such close quarters to the particular artist who was performing. When I found out that they were building a new location in the W Hotel, I vowed to see a show there. And last night, I saw that goal through. I chose to see Martin Sexton because he’s an artist I just discovered a couple of years ago, completely by accident. I know he’s been around for a long time, but I just hadn’t hit upon him. But the album I came across, Black Sheep, had some incredible songs. The one that stood out the most to me was “Glory Bound”. Wow!! What an amazing record! From that moment on, I was hooked and went back and found more albums by him. I missed an opportunity to see him at ACL a couple of years ago, so the ACL Live show was my second chance and I wasn’t gonna miss him again. Soo glad I didn’t. But I’ll get back to Martin in a minute. Let’s talk about the venue and how incredibly beautiful it is. It’s on the 2nd floor of The W Hotel building. I went straight up to the Mezzanine level, which is where my seats were.
Once I saw how great the view was, I was stoked. My dad had told me that there wasn’t a bad seat in the house and he was absolutely right. No matter where you are, you have a perfect view of the stage. Even if you choose to go with General Admission tickets, there are actually some chairs set up on either side of the stage along with a smattering of tall-boys in the middle of the floor. I had bought Mezzanine tickets because I didn’t want to stand the whole time. But after seeing how the venue is actually laid out, I may just do GA next time, especially if it’s for an artist that I’m really crazy about. There is also a balcony level which was not in use tonight. I scoped out the venue a little more during the intermission and saw that all the great photos they had at the previous location were all up in full glory along the halls of the Mezzanine level. There are also a few bars in the venue, I believe at least two on each level. Aside from how aesthetically incredible this venue is, sonically it is BEYOND!! I mean, while Martin was playing, the sound carried throughout in such a crisp, clear way. Yet, during the quieter moments, both the audience and Martin could catch one another’s dialogue. It was so awesome. Truly!
HOOK: So, when I heard that Chris Trapper was the opening artist, I had little or no expectations. Never heard of the guy. He came out on stage with an acoustic guitar and a second acoustic set up behind him, no band. His first song sounded good, though. By his second song he was asking for audience participation. He wanted us to sing along. He was hilarious, basically making the point that none of us were there to see HIM and that he had no right to ask for us to sing along, but he wanted us to. And ya know what, his great sense of humor wasn’t lost on this group. And people DID sing along. I was laughing because I thought that was so great.
LINE: By the third song, Chris got so bold as to ask for the audience to move closer to the stage. He said, you guys want be closer when Martin comes out anyway, so you might as well come closer now. And guess what?? People did move closer in to his performance. He really had a great rapport with the crowd and people responded to him. He was absolutely winning me over with his charm and his great songs. I kept trying to figure out who he reminded me of. And then it finally clicked. Bob Schneider. For you Austinites that know and love Bob, you’d be missing out if you didn’t check Chris Trapper out. He has the same gift of quirky, funny, and ,sometimes, such sweet lyrics that really touch you and at the same time make you laugh out loud. He’s also a great vocalist and guitarist.
SINKER: Chris was great about leading up to each song by sharing the story of how he came up with it. He’s a wonderful story-teller. The last song he did, “Skin”, is on his latest album. And once I heard the lyrics, that was it. I was sold!! DONE!! He said that he had CD’s for sale at the merch table. So during the intermission, I went down to find that CD. And who should be sitting there? Yeah, Chris Trapper. He was chilling with his glass of wine. I didn’t even notice him at first, but when I realized it was him, I took a couple of minutes to tell him how great his performance was. And I was honest and told him I had never heard of him, but that I really enjoyed his show. He was so nice and gracious and I even got him to sign my CD. When I told him my name, he told me it was a beautiful name and then asked about its origin. It was just a cool moment. Thanks Chris!!
Now, back to Martin Sexton. I was pretty excited to see his performance. Chris Trapper had given him a great lead-in. So I couldn’t wait. I had no idea what an AH-MAY-ZING show I was about to experience. Please allow me to gush. This guy is without categorization. He was born to do what he does. I was so thoroughly blown away that it’s hard for me to even verbalize how much I loved his show. I didn’t want to leave. And I’m thrilled he played for almost two hours. He not only has a superb voice, but the things he can do with an electric guitar blew my mind! I mean, the guy was scatting and he had that guitar sounding like a freakin’ stand up bass. No joke. He was drumming it, making crazy sounds. He yodeled, beat boxed, and just kept me on the edge of my seat. I’m kinda speechless right now. He had me in the palm of his hand almost immediately. His fans just adore him. He told us this was a “No Set-List Tour”. And he wasn’t kidding. The audience was shouting out requests and he would be like, “Coming right up”, and then he’d play it. I mean…so great!! THEN, towards the end of the show, he’s doing one of his songs and he morphed it into “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston. This guy who has nothing whatsoever to do with Whitney Houston was kind enough to pay tribute to her. Again…blown away. He did two incredible covers one by Prince, “Purple Rain” and the other I can’t remember now. He also did do one encore. When he came back on stage he played his one and only song on acoustic guitar and ended the show on a quieter, but beautiful note. Martin seems like a super cool guy. He announced that he had his latest CD on sale for $5 at the merch table, but if you were out of work it was free. He expressed how grateful he was about us shelling out our hard earned money on live music. And it was obvious how sincerely he meant it. I would see him again in a heartbeat. I had the best time and I am so grateful that I got to see this incredible performance.