It’s 11 a.m. on a Friday in early January and the clouds over Lake Tahoe are gray and billowing. Whether they carry rain or snow it is yet to be seen, though everybody in the basin has been waiting with bated breath for the white gold to fall from the skies. Snow will bring powdery turns this weekend and hope to pull out of a meager beginning of the ski season, rain will bring continued dreariness. The powderhounds will have to be patient and see how this plays out.
On the other side of the phone is Alex Korostinsky, bassist for Reno soul band The Sextones. He is just starting his day in the Biggest Little City and will soon go grab coffee with his girlfriend. Later, he’ll join the rest of his bandmates Mark Sexton (guitar), Daniel Weiss (drums) and Ryan Taylor (keyboards) in Tahoe City for an opening slot in front of troubadour guitarist Eric Lindell. It’s the band’s first show of the year, a great warm up for what is sure to be a busy 2017 for the foursome.
The Sextones will be building upon what was a monumental 2016.. In September, the band embarked on its first national tour, which saw it puncture the regional bubble of California, Nevada, Utah and the Pacific Northwest and to play shows in Memphis, Philadelphia, New York City and Washington, D.C. In a move that hopefully signals more high-desert soul being infused into the national populace, Korostinsky and company also signed with North Carolina-based booking company Blue Sun Entertainment, whose clients include banjo rascal Danny Barnes and Reno funk heavyweights Jelly Bread.
Another significant marker was the completion of The Sextones’ debut album. It’s a collection of songs whose origins date back to when the group was known as the Mark Sexton Band (it formally changed the name at the end of 2015). The Sextones elected to self-produce this album after 2013’s EP “Young and Naive” was produced by influential drummer Alan Evans, and the songs were recorded at Prairie Sun Studio in Cotati, California. The mixing and mastering process has taken more than a year to complete. Korostinsky chalked it up to tinkering with their sound and maximizing the potential of the studio and all the sonic shaping it can do. He said it’s been well worth the time and effort to groom the songs to where the musicians want them to be, confident that their patience will pay off. A release date is expected this year.
This year presents The Sextones the exciting and daunting task of finally releasing and touring behind its debut album. No-frills, hard-earned time in the saddle as working musicians has prepared them for this release. The band’s diligent touring through Utah has helped to create a new forward operating base of fans on the Sextones’ Eastern expansion to the Atlantic, including a third year playing the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Sundance has a vibrant music schedule throughout the festival and venues have continued to ask them back, a significant feat in the exclusive music market there. You can credit The Sextones’ ability to knock the crowd out with velvety smooth rhythms and suit-and-tie sharp melodies.
One person who took notice in the past year was world-renowned drummer Nikki Glaspie, who has been the drummer on a number of Beyonce’s world tours. She saw the Sextones when they opened for her other band Dumpstaphunk and liked them so much she initiated a line of communication with Sextones drummer Daniel Weiss. This winter The Sextones are opening for her powerhouse funk band Nth Power, including shows in San Francisco, Santa Cruz and Salt Lake City. The recognition is flattering, Korostinsky said, and he’s excited to play with musicians he respects as much as Glaspie and her band.
The Sextones have been sowing the seeds for a successful career for years and it seems 2017 might be the year that may burst like a dazzling desert bloom in the spring. The release of its album will free up the space for fresh, creative energy to be put toward crafting new songs, an endeavor Korostinsky is very much looking forward to after spending so much crafting new songs.
The Sextones also have fully embraced their recent rebranding from the Mark Sexton Band, a move played out in both a sleeker and sophisticated name and look. Korostinsky has had a hand in the band’s new image as the art director for the group. His crisp, effervescent touch in the band’s concert posters and T-shirts are influenced by both his love of modern artists and retro soul show posters and album covers. It’s an aesthetic that matches the Sextones’ style and sound as a collective, a natural evolution from when they began this journey as musicians in high school.
In describing the band’s creative process, Korostinsky said it’s usually a slow method that is more about the musical journey to create the song than the song itself. It takes a great deal of patience to follow the muse so closely, to embark on an expedition whose route is uncertain and whose completion time is indefinite. 2017 and the unknown are on the horizon, but the Sextones have been traveling this career path for a while now and seem ready for the next leg of the journey. They’ll just have to see how it plays out.