Who needs sleep? Mark Sexton Band rises to the occasion during recording session

The Mark Sexton Band's "Young and Naive" is released April 9. Photo by Chris Walstad.

The Mark Sexton Band’s “Young and Naive” is released April 9. Photo by Chris Walstad.

He’s only 24, but Mark Sexton is already a road trip veteran who is able to perform well despite the amount of rest he has had.

This proved to be an invaluable asset when he had an unexpected “once in a lifetime experience” to record an album.

Sexton and band mates Dan Weiss and Alex Korostinsky had about two and one-half hours of sleep the night before going into a studio to record an EP, “Young & Naïve,” which will be released Tuesday, April 9. The trio’s restless night was spent in the seats of a jeep parked somewhere near Santa Barbara.

“We showed up looking haggard and unshowered,” said Sexton, a Reno resident who has toured for six years. “We looked awful.”

Korostinsky had called a high school friend of his mother’s, hoping to find a place to spend the night. Instead, the old friend, Emmy Award winning sound man Larold Rebhun, offered the Mark Sexton Band a free day in his studio.

“We didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into,” Sexton said. “When we walked into that studio it was like, ‘Oh my God, we better switch ourselves on right now. We need to make a serious recording that we are going to release because this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. We better do everything we can right now to do it justice.’ Maybe being halfway out of it helped us relax a little bit and not rush.”

The band rose to the occasion. “Young & Naïve” has six solid tracks, each with a different sound but clearly falling into the genre of smooth soul music.

“I like to do my own harmonies,” Sexton said. “A lot of my favorite and biggest influences do stacks of their own vocals. It was just a sound I wanted to have for the genre that we were doing. But who knows, the next album might have a totally different approach. This one coming out, we wanted that D’Angelo-esque vocal layering.”

Cognizant they had recorded something special, the band members hired producer Alan Evans to do the mixing. Sexton is a good friend of On the Spot Trio guitarist Danny Mayer, who recently joined the Alan Evans Trio. Evans is best known as the drummer for Soulive, but he also is a highly respected music producer. Evans was impressed with the material.

“It sounded great even before I got my hands on it,” Evans said. “That’s what happens when you have great players recording great songs. They could have recorded it in a phone booth and it still would have been dope.”

“We definitely pushed our soundscape,” Sexton said. “We had never done any synth packages or strings. We figured it was time to man up and do what the big boys do.

“The biggest battle with this album is we recorded it all in the same place during the same session on the same drum kit and the same equipment. Alan was really great at making each song sound different.”

The Mark Sexton Band is back on the road, playing 22 shows, including a CD release concert April 20 in John Ascuaga’s Nugget in Sparks. Sexton said he is thrilled to play in the same venue as, when it was called the Circus Room, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald. And he joked the 4-20 date was good because “the stoners can remember it.”

Mark Sexton Band

‘Young & Naive’ CD release concert

When: 8 p.m. Saturday, April 20

Where: John Ascuaga’s Nugget, Sparks

Tickets: $16.50

Call: 800-648-1177

About Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.

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