Charlie Sexton Sextet | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Charlie Sexton Sextet

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Since he began recording a decade ago at the age of 16, guitar prodigy Charlie Sexton has had all the trappings of stardom: major-label support, the friendship of heavy hitters like Bob Dylan and Keith Richards, and performance experience with David Bowie and Don Henley. The one thing Sexton's resume lacked was a standout record. His recently released third LP, Under the Wishing Tree, solves that problem. As you might expect from a resident of Austin's singer-songwriter ghetto, the album's packed with rootsy picking and crooning, much of it piquantly embellished with violin, mandolin, accordion, and Sexton's knotty guitar playing. "Sunday Clothes," "Dark," and the title track blend simple, uncluttered arrangements, soaring melodies, and sharp musicianship with solid songwriting that lies somewhere between rock, folk, and country. Along with Cajun, Celtic, and Tex-Mex seasonings, some less likely influences garnish this expansive collection of songs. "Neighborhood" features acid-etched guitar lines that recall an era when Texas was overrun with psychedelic cowpokes like the Thirteenth Floor Elevators, Bubble Puppy, and the Moving Sidewalks. And the first half of the lengthy "Plain Bad Luck and Innocent Mistakes" is a skeletal, low-key noir excursion with all of the bleak potency of Tom Waits's recent work. At the ripe old age of 26, Sexton appears ready to fulfill his long-touted promise. The sextet, which is actually a quartet (I don't get it either), has expanded to a quintet for this tour with the addition of multiinstrumentalist Susan Voelz. Sunday, 7 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 549-0203.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo/Mary Ellen Mark.

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