FAIRBANKS — Martin Sexton has spent much of the past couple of decades on the road seeing America, and a lot of what he sees bothers him.
“I see the partisan world, and I call shenanigans on it,” he said Tuesday while traveling through mid-state New York. “There is no partisan world. There is no right. There is no left. There is no us/them. It’s just us. We’re all brothers and sisters.”
Getting that message of unity out is Sexton’s mission. The singer-songwriter with a versatile voice Rolling Stone describes as “soul-marinated,” has traveled the world, selling out venues from New York to Los Angeles and collaborating with musicians such as John Mayer and Peter Frampton. He will perform at The Blue Loon on Friday, Oct. 5.
Sexton has released several albums, and his songs have been featured on television shows such as “Scrubs,” “Parenthood” and Showtime’s “Brotherhood.”
Sexton is not happy with the status quo, and his songs seek answers to the larger questions he sees around him.
“In the last few years, I’ve gained a sense of my place in the world, and, in gaining that sense of humanism, I’ve lost my sense of left and right,” he said.
On his recent EP, “Fall Like Rain,” Sexton covered Buffalo Springfield’s classic protest song, “For What It’s Worth.” He said the song fits the events of today and it’s one way for him to speak out about what he sees.
“I feel like we’re in the new 60s,” he said. “I feel like we are in a time now where it is our duty to raise our hands, get off our couches and talk to one another, to share our experiences, our lives, our hope.”
He’s outraged that the Patriot Act was renewed, about “hearing on the news that we can assassinate people without a trial. That we can torture someone into confession,” he said. “This is not the America I knew.
“I can’t hang with that and and just sit back and shut up and sing,” he said. “I’m not preaching. I’m just sharing my experience. We are more alike than different. When we are divided we fall.”
While his music tackles serious topics, Sexton approaches them “with a spoonful of sugar.” Music is still fun and he likes to have fun on stage.
If he sometimes comes across as a ’60s-style folk troubador, it’s because that’s the music that influenced him as a teenager in the 1980s. He grew up in Syracuse, N.Y., the 10th of 12 children. While his friends were listening to ’80s bands such as Tears for Fears and A-Ha, Sexton was listening to an older brother’s 20-year-old vinyl records. He returns to those influences when he makes his own albums, which feature a broad range of styles.
“I’m a big fan of a band called The Beatles,” he said. “It was like completely different worlds on the same album. The White Album goes from ‘Blackbird’ — a guy and a guitar — to ‘Helter Skelter.’”
And while Sexton admires the artists of the ’60s and ’70s, the feeling is mutual in many cases. He has met Stephen Stills, who wrote “For What It’s Worth,” a couple of times, but has had numerous conversations with Stills’ CSN bandmates, David Crosby and Graham Nash.
In fact, Sexton’s singing left a strong impression on Crosby, whose ribald compliment to Sexton is unprintable here, but nevertheless impressive.
Sexton’s latest collection, “Fall Like Rain” was released as an EP, mainly so he could get the songs out quickly “for the price of a soy latté,” and get his message heard.
As he sings on the title track, “I wanna feel, I wanna fall like rain, without the shelter so I can see which way the wind is blowin’ today.”
IF YOU GO
What: Martin Sexton
When: 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 5, 21 and over only
Where: The Blue Loon
Tickets: $25 in advance; $30 day of show, available online
Contact staff writer Julie Stricker at 459-7532.