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Author: Subject: My Charlie Sexton 2002 Interview: The Arc Angels, Working With Bob Dylan, Ron Wood, & Many More

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  posted on 9/21/2014 at 02:23 PM
Another of my archive Interviews. Texan singer, songwriter, guitarist Charlie Sexton from October 2002 Charlie is perhaps most renown for 2 creative projects. 1st, he was the co-founder, co-songwriter, singer, and guitarist for the iconic 90's blues rock band The Arc Angels. Charlie has also gained great acclaim for touring and recording for over a decade now with the legendary Bob Dylan.

1st published in shortened form, in the December 2003 issue of "Vintage Guitar Magazine". It was republished in its entirety, August 8, 2011 in "GuitarInternational.com" in THREE Parts.

By Arlene R. Weiss, 2002-2014 Copyright and All Rights Reserved By Arlene R. Weiss




Part 1. Charlie discusses his musical beginnings, influences, his first bands & gigs in Texas, as a prodigy working with Keith Richards, Ron Wood, and Bob Dylan.

http://guitarinternational.com/2011/08/08/charlie-sexton-interview-part-i-h ow-to-session-with-bob-dylan/

Part 2. Charlie discusses his songwriting, and goes in great detail about his many guitars, pedals, effects, amps, and gear, what tuning he plays in, and his technique on guitar.

http://guitarinternational.com/2011/08/08/charlie-sexton-interview-part-ii- how-does-he-get-that-chimey-tone/

Part 3. Charlie tells the story of The Arc Angels, the genesis of the band, how he first came to know and become creatively involved with Doyle Bramhall II and Double Trouble's Chris Layton and Tommy Shannon.

http://guitarinternational.com/2011/08/08/charlie-sexton-interview-part-iii -the-arc-angels-tom-waits-and-double-trouble/







[Edited on 9/23/2014 by ArleneWeiss]

[Edited on 11/3/2014 by ArleneWeiss]

 

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  posted on 9/22/2014 at 08:54 AM
Charlie with The Arc Angels singing and playing on the incendiary "Too Many Ways To Fall" which he co-wrote, November 1992 on Jay Leno/The Tonight Show. What a firestorm! (That's Doyle Bramhall II setting the stage on fire on the red guitar Doyle calls Little Doyle!)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_wanpyrvPs

Here's Charlie singing and playing on David Bowie's 1987 Glass Spider Tour on "White Light White Heat". Charlie's blistering solo comes on...at 1:57

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhHlExZnJn8



[Edited on 9/22/2014 by ArleneWeiss]

 

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  posted on 9/22/2014 at 03:29 PM
One of my favorites Charlie singing & burning up the guitar on "Hold Me" with considerable devilish charm! Blues rock meets pop never sounded so good!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4Kri5YzAvg




[Edited on 9/22/2014 by ArleneWeiss]

 

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  posted on 11/6/2015 at 10:14 AM
Part 1. Charlie discusses his musical beginnings, influences, his first bands & gigs in Texas, as a prodigy working with Keith Richards, Ron Wood, and Bob Dylan.

http://guitarinternational.com/2011/08/08/charlie-sexton-interview-part-i-h ow-to-session-with-bob-dylan/

Charlie Sexton: Part 1: How To Session With Bob Dylan

© Copyright June 27, 2011-2016 By Arlene R. Weiss-All Rights Reserved
© Copyright October 19, 2002 By Arlene R. Weiss-All Rights Reserved

By: Arlene R. Weiss

In October 2002, I was honored to interview Texas singer, songwriter, guitar virtuoso extraordinaire, the incomparable Charlie Sexton. Sexton was, at the time, taking a few hours break from his extensive and very esteemed gig as Bob Dylan’s tour guitarist, which after some three very high profile, prestigious years’ tenure from 1999 to 2002, was coming to an end, due to Charlie’s stellar and in demand forays as a producer. Also getting in the way was writing and crafting his fourth solo album, 2005’s Cruel And Gentle Things.

Charlie discussed with me at length what amounted to a monumental career and autobiographical chronicle of his music, artistry, creative work, and guitars galore, along with a generous account, (peppered with Charlie’s own numerous, personal, affectionate, and humorous anecdotes), of the many glittering artists that he has collaborated with throughout his life, including Stevie Ray Vaughan, Lucinda Williams, Tom Waits, Charlie Musselwhite, The Rolling Stones’ Ron Wood and Keith Richards, W.C. Clark, and of course, Sexton’s legendary super group, The Arc Angels.

Currently, Charlie is now pulling double duty, back since 2009 with Bob Dylan as Dylan’s touring guitarist, while still producing other artists, performing his many, “reunion” shows with The Arc Angels, writing, singing, and of course, playing guitar. Here’s a look back with Charlie Sexton at his luminous and storied career.

******

Arlene R. Weiss: You’ve currently been splitting your time doing double duty, touring with Bob Dylan as his guitarist, and performing and recording your guitar work and producing a number of artists on countless creative projects; including Double Trouble, Edie Brickell, Lucinda Williams, and Doyle Bramhall II. Where does this wellspring flow of continuous and diverse creativity come from?

Charlie Sexton: I’m lucky because I get to work with people that I think are really talented; the writing side, performing, what have you. And the song gives you everything you need to know. A good song should tell you everything. On Lucinda Williams’ Essence, I started out as a guitar player on that project. I’m using Lucinda as an example. I played guitar on a few tracks on her last record, Car Wheels On A Gravel Road. Then she called me about her new record, Essence, and so I began that project as one of the guitar players. The demos were amazing. The songs were great. So we did the basic tracks, then they had some things changed and hit some walls that they couldn’t get past in completing the record. So I came back in to do some more guitar work and they said, “We’re having problems finishing up the record. Maybe you’ll become the producer.” So I went in and in a matter of a couple of days, I became the producer to finish up the project.

Lucinda Williams - Essence
Lucinda Williams - Essence

Arlene: Aren’t you currently working on Edie Brickell’s new album?

Charlie Sexton: She’s amazing. That came about because of a mutual friend of mine and Edie’s, who had expressed to me at one point that Edie had all these amazing songs and was looking for the right home as far as a label. So initially it started out as me saying, “Maybe you should call and talk to this person because they’re one of the good people in the industry.” I had a friend who looked at a label that I thought might be good. So that started.

Then, little by little, our mutual friend that works with her thought, “Maybe you should work with her”. So she’s given me all this material and it’s amazing. It’s like this gold mine of material that she’s been writing over the past five years or so. The album actually hasn’t even begun yet. It’s just about to. She sent some demos down. There’s one song in particular that I’m really fond of. It’s a demo of her playing guitar and singing. So I said, “Let’s do a treatment to it”, and I put a band around it, which is all me on various instruments. I sent it to her and she loved it. So we did some more work in New York on about seven songs. It was one of these lucky things where whatever I was hearing, seemed to support the song and give her something that she was hoping for.

Arlene: How do you find the time, energy, and inspirational spark for so many ongoing artistic projects?

Charlie Sexton: There’s a certain level of writing and quality of material out there, so they’re few and far between to a certain extent. I take them as they come. And I really need to love and believe in what it is, as far as both production and guitar work.

Arlene: What are your goals, as well as the creative challenges, and what you think you personally bring to the table both for yourself as an artist and for the individual artists that you work with in your two different creative roles, as both a guitarist and as a producer?

Charlie Sexton: When I’m working with other people, it’s a lot easier. Doing your own thing….obviously there’s going to be a little less objectivity when I’m writing my own songs, working on my own records, because it’s so personal, it’s so close. On the production side for other artists, I basically do anything or nothing depending on what the song is calling for. One of the main things I try to achieve when I’m doing that kind of work, is I just serve the song. If there’s something that I want to get on the record, or I think can be a cool thing to have on the record, but that doesn’t apply to the circumstance, then I don’t even force that aesthetic or that agenda. Because there’s some producers out there that make great records…but if the artist isn’t strong enough, they create their own sound, rather than the artist’s.

Arlene: What and when was the impetus for you actually wanting to become a producer, and what was the first record and artist that you actually produced?

Charlie Sexton: The funny thing about it is I was doing it for so long and I wasn’t thinking about it. I got my first guitar when I was four years old, or even younger. I used to drag it around like a wagon!

Arlene: Security blanket! What kind was it?

Charlie Sexton: Yeah, probably! My first guitar was this little gut string from Tijuana. My parents went down on my first trip to California, actually when I was two I think, and they brought back this little Mariachi guitar for me from Tijuana. I always had guitars, but I was young and my fingers didn’t work.

By the time I was about nine, there’s a few records I had that had been passed down from my mother, and I was trying to teach myself how to play guitar to these records. The records were The Dave Clark Five and The Spencer Davis Group. Before this, I had grown up on Dylan because my father loved Dylan. So Blonde On Blonde was my nursery rhyme record, or Highway 61 Revisited.

The record that I listened to the most in my little collection was Magical Mystery Tour, but it kind of scarred me for life! [Laughing] I was trying to learn guitar to that. And it’s not like The Beatles’ earlier records where you can pick up an acoustic and get the song across, because it’s all orchestra, backwards stuff, etc. It’s not like there’s one guitar part, so this is what the song is, follow and play this. It’s all overdubs, tape edits. But it’s also orchestral. George Martin’s heavily involved in that orchestral side of it. It put that orchestral sensibility in pop music into my head, without really knowing it. Then, when I was twelve or thirteen, I produced my first music. I took these friends of mine that I played with sometimes, into the studio and started doing all this stuff. Experimenting on recording, using different effects on the drums, trial and error.

The Beatles - Magical Mystery Tour
The Beatles - Magical Mystery Tour

Arlene: Did you get involved with arranging and orchestrating, as well as the whole nine yards?

Charlie Sexton: Yeah! Somebody would have me writing these songs. I’d be working on material and how it sounded and say, “How about this part or this groove?,” or “This would sound good with this groove,” doing it, not really thinking about it. Over the years, I was writing and doing demos. All along the way, I was working on other projects, working on my own records, and working behind the curtain, on production. I had meetings with producers like Glen Ballard for some project that potentially was going to happen, and I’d play guitar on these songs. But I’d also write what I wanted to hear for these songs and Glen would go, “God, the vibe you’ve got on these tracks!” It’s the sort of thing where so many artists are looking for “What is my sound?” and you’re thinking just what that sound is and how to achieve it. Then about two or three years ago, and all through this time, I had this realization that when I was nine years old in my room trying to play my guitar, listening to Magical Mystery Tour… I didn’t want to be in The Beatles…

Arlene: You wanted to be George Martin!

Charlie Sexton: Yeah! …I didn’t want to be onstage with The Beatles. I wanted to be crafting the record in the recording studio.

Arlene: The director of the whole thing!

Charlie Sexton: Yes! And that’s when I started producing more.

Arlene: So who was the first major artist that you actually produced that you can remember and the first record?

Charlie Sexton: It’s probably pretty recently.

Arlene: Double Trouble on “Been A Long Time”?

Charlie Sexton: That would probably be the first. I’ve also done a lot of little things here and there.

Arlene: First and foremost, you have garnered acclaim as a guitar virtuoso. But you are also a virtuoso on many instruments, stringed and non stringed, from Dobro to acoustic papoose to mandolin, as well as drums and the piano. How did you become proficient on such a wealth of instruments, but why did you settle on the guitar as your main instrument of choice?

Charlie Sexton: I’m not sure really. My favorite instrument is actually the piano, but I never had a piano growing up. I never took any lessons. Plus the guitar is a lot easier to drag around! [Laughs]

Arlene: I’m just having this mental picture of you trying to drag a Steinway! [Laughs]

Charlie Sexton: Exactly! Which I would if I could! I’m no genius on any of those instruments, including guitar. I play a little violin.

Arlene: Are you self taught? Do you play by ear?

Charlie Sexton: Yes. I’m not a great piano player by any means, but I know aesthetically what I want and what I don’t want. It’s the same thing with guitar. I use it as much as a texture instrument, as a full on instrument. What I mean by that, is I don’t want to hear this massive chord. I play a lot of triads on piano. And playing the drums too…. All that came from frustration when I made my first record. When I went into the recording studio that first time, I didn’t like the way it sounded. I thought, maybe I’m just no good. And at one point I realized, well maybe I’m not as bad as I think. Maybe it’s that the wrong things are being attached with this music. That’s where getting involved with engineering came in.

When I grew up was when I started playing guitar. I love guitar. But I love piano too. I wish I was like this amazing….And piano is an orchestral instrument too. Everything you need is there. You have your sub lows. You’ve got your top. There are things that you can do on piano that you can’t do on guitar, and obviously there are things you can do on guitar, that you can’t do on piano, like bent notes.

Arlene: You were endowed with a learning environment and teachers straight from legend. At only ten years old, you began performing with W.C. Clark. You spent your childhood and youth playing at the various renowned clubs in Austin. And you played with Stevie Ray and Jimmie Vaughan, Albert Collins, and Joe Ely’s band. Can you regale some of your fond memories and experiences growing up learning from such prodigious mentors, and also in a city and environment known internationally to be so nurturing to music talent, and particularly great guitar players?

Charlie Sexton: I was very fortunate, because when I was growing up, or even afterwards, people would say that the best blues record is Led Zeppelin I. And I would just laugh at that, because that was in my musical opinion, by no means the best blues record. [Laughs] My thing was I was the biggest fan of John Paul Jones, being that he was an arranger, so he brought that orchestral element. It always goes back to that orchestral thing for me.

So it’s funny, growing up learning from Jimmie, and Stevie, and W.C. And W.C., he’s more about a big band. He always had a horn player, a piano player, and he had a little more of that perspective on what a band should be and what music should be. It wasn’t strictly a guitar driven thing. The irony is that I grew up getting to hear Albert Collins or opening up for him. But yet, I was the age that I was, so instead of listening to what all the kids my age were listening to, like say, AC/DC, I was listening to the blues, rockabilly, country, Elvis, and Little Richard. I didn’t listen to much modern music up until the early 1980’s. For instance, when U2 came around or their first video got played. I saw that and thought, “There’s something going on with these guys. This is really cool!” But everything was attached with the production too. I didn’t even know it at the time. Some of my favorite records of that early era, were all produced by Steve Lillywhite, who did all the early U2 records. He also produced Sparkle In The Rain for Simple Minds.

Simple Minds - Sparkle in the Rain
Simple Minds - Sparkle in the Rain

Arlene: Oh yes! Simple Minds with Jim Kerr! I love that band!

Charlie Sexton: Yeah! They had this drummer….

Arlene: Remember “Alive And Kicking”?

Charlie Sexton: Yes!

Arlene: “Up On The Catwalk”, especially the live version?

Charlie Sexton: That’s the one! Drums are actually my first instrument and I just love drums. I probably love drums as much as I love piano. [Laughing]

Arlene: Simple Minds’ drummer on “Alive And Kicking”? He’s just amazing.

Charlie Sexton: That’s Mel Gaynor!

Arlene: Yes, that’s when they had Robin Clark also doing vocals, and she did the solo on the song that was so wonderful!

Charlie Sexton: Robin used another great guitar player, Carlos Alomar, who played with Bowie for years and years. That’s his wife.

Arlene: I love that song! I adore that band.

Charlie Sexton: I used Robin on a record at one point.

Arlene: You used Robin?!

Charlie Sexton: She came and sang background on one song that I did in New York one time. She’s a great singer.

Arlene: What was the very first band you were in, Charlie?

Charlie Sexton: The first band I actually joined was called The Groovemasters. It was this little blues band that would play little dives, little juke joints. The guy that was the head of the band was this guy named Randy Banks, who was actually a cool little West Texas blues songwriter. Now when I was a kid, no one would show me anything on the guitar. I just had to watch and try to figure it out on my own. But Randy came one night. We were at some studio rehearsal place. It was really late. He comes in. I’m in there playing the guitar. And he goes, [Laughing] “You know what feedback is?” And I go, “No.” And he grabs the guitar really violently from me, he turns the amp on, he hits a note, and he holds the guitar right in front of the amp and it was going waaaahhhh!!! And he goes, “That’s feedback”, gives the guitar back to me and left.

Anyway, Randy had this band. I was twelve years old and I had just left home at that time and moved to Austin. They hired me in the band because…He said “Do you play like B.B. King?” I went “Oh, a little bit.” So I could do B.B.’s songs and could do the solos, so I did it. And Randy said, “Ok, you can come play with us then.” Because he couldn’t get the B.B. thing going.

Arlene: How did you come to the attention of, and then thus begin session work as a guitarist with Ron Wood, Keith Richards, and Bob Dylan?

Charlie Sexton: Like I said, I left home when I was twelve and the reason that I left was because I knew what I was going to do. I knew I was going to make records and be a musician. And life just started for me, playing in the clubs. So I got a couple breaks. Once one person let me go up onstage and play, then another musician would too, and it sort of snowballed. I had my band and was doing a bunch of gigs.

Then by the time I was sixteen, I got signed to MCA. The first thing I did for MCA, after my signing, was Ron Wood was working on the music for a film with Chris Penn called “The Wild Life.” So they sent me to New York to do this track with Woody! Ron Wood! So we go do this track and Woody and I hit it off immediately. I think he was blown away because we knew all the same records, the blues stuff. That’s what it was, all the old blues stuff, because I was pretty well versed in it, but yet there was a massive age difference between us. So I think he was really tickled by it.

While we were cutting the songs for that film, Keith showed up. We weren’t sure whether he’d actually come or not. But he showed up. So we did that track that night, hung out. Woody said he was working on a solo record, so he goes, [Charlie kiddingly improvising a British accent], “Why don’t you stick around and help me work on my record?” I said, “Ok. Well actually I’m getting kicked out of the hotel!” He said, “Why don’t you go stay at the house?”

So I stayed for an extra week with him in New York. Then one night, we go to the studio, and Woody goes, “Hey Bob’s gonna come by later.” And I didn’t know. He didn’t say Bob who. He just said Bob. So I go, “Ok, cool, whatever.” Plus, even back then, I was all business. I was like, “Come on. Let’s get to the track. What are we going to do next? How do you want this song? What’s the beat?” I was real serious. [Laughing] I was never much a kid. I was pretty serious all along. So anyway, we’re working and all of a sudden, this guy….someone’s coming up and I go to see who it is, and it’s Bob [Dylan]! And Woody goes, “Hey Bob, this is the guy I was telling you about, Charlie.” And then Bob looks at me and he goes, “Hey….I’ve heard about you.” He’s kind of looking me over.

Arlene: That must have made you feel really honored that he had heard of you.

Charlie Sexton: Well it kind of confused me. There was already a lot of that going on, because for instance, Nick Lowe would come to Austin and he’d go, “Hey, Charlie. Yeah, I’ve heard about you.” It was sort of like a Tall Tale from Texas you know. It was like, [Charlie narrating in a deep bass southern Texas accent], “Way down South in Austin…There’s this young boy that gets up and plays the blues.” [Laughs]

Arlene: But it’s still a sense of validation from such incredible peers.

Charlie Sexton: Oh, yes. I was very honored to meet Bob. We ended up playing that night and recorded a bunch of who knows what it was, or where it went. The way I remember it, and my intention at the time was, “Ok, it’s great to meet you. Let’s record.”

© Copyright June 27, 2011 By Arlene R. Weiss-All Rights Reserved
© Copyright October 19, 2002 By Arlene R. Weiss-All Rights Reserved

 

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  posted on 11/6/2015 at 10:19 AM
Part 2. Charlie discusses his songwriting, and goes in great detail about his many guitars, pedals, effects, amps, and gear, what tuning he plays in, and his technique on guitar.

http://guitarinternational.com/2011/08/08/charlie-sexton-interview-part-ii- how-does-he-get-that-chimey-tone/

Charlie Sexton Part 2: How Does He Get That Chimey Tone

By Arlene R. Weiss

© Copyright June 27, 2011-2016 By Arlene R. Weiss-All Rights Reserved
© Copyright October 19, 2002 By Arlene R. Weiss-All Rights Reserved

Charlie Sexton is an extraordinary gifted artist, whose lifetime musical odyssey has profoundly touched, as well as likewise been charted, by the extraordinary circumstances, fate, and people of music legend, legend of which the revered Sexton has often arguably been a part of himself.

A child prodigy guitar player versed in a multitude of instruments, from Dobro to mandolin, to piano to drums, Sexton got his first guitar, a gut string Mariachi acoustic, at a mere two years old, and was already playing as a full fledged pro by an astonishing nine years old. At only twelve, the self taught San Antonio native struck out on his own, moving to Austin, gigging the renowned clubs on the local town circuit, instantly coming to be known as seemingly mythic, the blues guitar boy wonder, and thus began building a regarded reputation that led to performing with Stevie Ray and Jimmie Vaughan, W.C. Clark, Joe Ely, and much of Austin’s music elite. All who were awestruck mentors of the youthful player’s inspired, scorching, six-string blues chops wizardry.

At sixteen, upon MCA Records signing Sexton to his first record deal, and acclaimed word of the guitar prodigy’s prowess quickly spreading to influential and esteemed international music circles, he found himself thrust into even greater creative heights, doing session work with Ron Wood, Keith Richards, and Bob Dylan, who themselves were admiring fans of this, as Charlie kiddingly and affectionately muses, “The young Tall Tale from Texas!”

Sexton moved forward artistically, spreading his musical wings, branching out into lead vocals and songwriting with the release of two solo albums, 1985’s Pictures For Pleasure and 1989’s Charlie Sexton. Then in 1992, Sexton joined forces with lifelong friends and colleagues, Double Trouble’s Tommy Shannon and Chris Layton, and Doyle Bramhall II, to form the now legendary Austin super group, The Arc Angels.

******

Arlene: Now that you’ve finally come into your own as a solo artist, with the release of your three solo albums, in which you have much more creative control, how has that informed you creatively as a guitar player, moving from session work, to being a major music artist in your own right?

Charlie Sexton: It’s always easier for me to work on other people’s projects as far as guitars are considered or in regards to what I do on the guitar. For whatever reason it is, it’s just that step back. Probably because the better the person is singing and playing what the root of the song is to them, it’s easier for me to….all I have to do is hopefully make the right choices around what the song is, to support what the lyrics are doing or the tone of the voice and the instruments. The problem is when it’s my own music, I have to supply that foundation, so then it’s harder for me to look around the circumference of whatever the root of the song is.

Arlene: Is that when you became involved with songwriting and lead vocals, when you started doing solo work?

Charlie Sexton: I was already doing that because my brother Will and I played music when we were kids. I remember writing our first song when I was about nine. We would write little rock and roll….

Arlene: Both music and lyrics?

Charlie Sexton: Yes! They were little blues songs.

Arlene: Songwriting has become very significant to you recently though. Why has that become so important to you in your creative development?

Charlie Sexton: It’s a tricky thing for me because there’s craft and commerce. They’re their own worst enemy. For a long time for me, I would think, “I’ve got to get songs written. I’ve got to do a record.” I had a little success here and there with certain songs, but what I found is that, I could almost not be bothered to sing anything if it didn’t have something deep in it for me. Otherwise, I didn’t believe in it. I couldn’t put my soul into the words. But that becomes a very difficult thing too, because it’s a place you have to go to, that’s not always the most comfortable place to go to, subject wise. It’s also a well you can’t just tap every day like punching a clock, because it does reflect moments of clarity about subjects.

Charlie Sexton - Under The Wishing Tree
Charlie Sexton - Under The Wishing Tree

Arlene: Your solo album Under The Wishing Tree is a beautiful stellar portrait reflecting very introspective songwriting, informed vocals, and very eclectic music influences. Do you think you’ll be recording more albums as a solo artist in the future?

Charlie Sexton: Yeah! After that record, I began a project with my brother Will. We looked for years trying to get the right recording contract. I was working out a budget with my brother and the record was ill fated from the beginning. That was on A&M, and just prior to finishing the record, we got absorbed and digested in that whole Universal Music takeover and merger.

Arlene: How does hearing and playing music from two perspectives, that of a guitarist and of a producer, both inform and texture your songwriting?

Charlie Sexton: It’s a tricky thing because a lot of times, I have such an ear for production, that I’ll get caught up in producing the song before the song has actually arrived. So that’s one thing that I always have to be very aware of. Sometimes it works out. Sometimes I’ll hear something in my head, so I’ll start playing drums. A lot of times I’ll actually write a song on drums, because I start playing a groove. What it is, I’m composing the song in my head, but while I’m doing the arrangement in my head, I’ll put the drum part down and that’s like the map for me, to do the drum part. But I’ll go over to the piano and start playing the basic root of the arrangement, or a progression, and then move on. Sometimes I’ll come up with these tracks and there’s such a vibe to the music, that that will lead me to the subject matter that needs to be talked about.

Arlene: Do you compose on guitar?

Charlie Sexton: Oh yes, that too!

Arlene: How do you put together and develop the chords, riffs, and melodies for guitar?

Charlie Sexton: It depends on where it starts. If it starts on guitar, then that will be the root of it. Sometimes it starts on piano so then I have to find whatever compliments what I’m doing or add something to it. It’s always different. Recently, I’ve been being very stripped down about the process. Maybe writing it strictly on piano…or writing it on guitar only, and I’ll put a track together.

Arlene: What are your main studio guitars, both acoustic and electric?

Charlie Sexton: If something sounds good to me, I don’t care what it is, or where it’s made. If it plays well, and I like the way it sounds, I’ll use it. I have a 1943 Gibson LG-2 that I use as an Octave, high-strung and it sounds great. One of my favorite acoustic guitars that I have is this 1890 Washburn parlor guitar that’s just amazing. Then I have kind of a Frankenstein Strat, that has a 64’ neck and a 70’ body that was in a trailer fire so it’s toast because it’s all charred. I’ve got a really cool old 50’s Gretsch, that’s sort of a jazz box thing.

Arlene: What about Dobros and mandolins?

Charlie Sexton: I had a great old Duolian that I found at a pawn shop. But I had some lean years here and there, so there are certain things that I had to get rid of.

Arlene: Don’t you have a collection of old Voxes, Fender, and Gibson amps?

Charlie: I have several old Fender tweed amps. I’ve got a Tremolux and a Super amp. I really love old Gibson amps. A GA-6 like the kind Ry Cooder used to use in his rig. Voxes, I love Voxes! It started off as an aesthetic thing because I think they’re one of the most beautiful amps ever made. I have some little combo AC30’s and a V15 which I think is from the 70’s. I’ve only ever seen one. That’s the one I have! Then I use AC50’s, and they’re my favorite. I think they’re from the 60’s.

Arleme: What guitars and gear are you using in your live rig and performances?

Charlie Sexton: Right now, I’m using a reissue Gretsch which is about ten years old. Also, a J-200 for acoustic. I have an Advanced Jumbo Gibson that’s fabulous. An ES175 Gibson fat guitar, that’s a big old fat jazzy box thing. Of course I have some Stratocasters and Telecasters. I’ve really gotten into hollow-bodies more and more, and I play these Epiphones. They’re cheap guitars, but they’re great. I have an Epiphone Casino that I put an old bigsby on that made it sound completely different. I have an Epiphone Riviera. They’re inexpensive guitars, but I love the sound of them.

Arlene: Since you play such a vast array of guitars, what qualities do you look for in selecting a guitar to achieve and develop your vast palette of colors of tone, and which guitars in your collection, do you use for those certain tones?

Charlie Sexton: Different guitars don’t necessarily dictate, but they can lead you to play differently. My sound is a lot darker than most guitar players. Most guitar players like a mid-rangy, punchy thing. I don’t really like that. If the track calls for it, I’ll choose Les Paul Juniors which are great for that. If I want a twangy, biting thing, the Tele is the thing. If I want a little more versatility in the sound color, the Stratocaster is the king for me.

Arlene: Don’t you have a preference for open tunings?

Charlie Sexton: On the Wishing Tree album I used a lot of open tunings. A lot of that comes from….You can have the same progression, but if you use a modal tuning, like DADGAD, the same old chords ring a completely different way. At certain points I’ve done shows with that record, with all the open tunings that I use. Then maybe I’d do an acoustic thing so I’d only bring a couple guitars and not have as many of the open tunings. But I found that some of the uniqueness of the songs was lost when it wasn’t done with that particular tuning.

Also, when I worked with Bob (Dylan) on his record, I tuned down a lot. When we would transpose, we’d do one take, one key, then another take, another key. So you have to transpose sometimes to get it to sit right for the song. I have to tune way down, like down to C. And the characteristics of the guitar completely changes, sometimes into a really mysterious and cool way. Guitars have these wolf tones and that’s whenever you hit these certain notes. The way I understand it to be, is certain resonant qualities or frequencies, you’ll hit one note and the thing will just sing! When you tune down out of the pitch, your wolf tones go to different places.

Been a Long Time - Double Trouble
Been a Long Time - Double Trouble

Arlene: Do you pluck, pick, or strum?

Charlie Sexton: I do everything. I use a pick. I’ve got long nails, so I can do straight finger picking. Sometimes I’ll use a thumb pick or pick with three fingers. Whatever it takes.

Arlene: “Cry Sky,” which is my favorite song on Double Trouble’s album, Been A Long Time, and several cuts on Lucinda Williams’ Essence greatly showcase your beautiful implementation of chime harmonics. Your technique is wonderful. What guitars, playing methods, and techniques did you use, and do you typically use to achieve that, and particularly on those songs?

Charlie Sexton: Part of that chime thing….I do that on acoustic sometimes. I do it on solid body electrics. I do it a lot on hollow-bodies. My whole life, I’ve been trying to make the guitar sound like anything but a guitar.

Arlene: That’s a good thing though, to give it a different tonal sound and do something new and beautiful.

Charlie Sexton: A lot of times, I’m trying to get a vibe thing across and I’ll use delays too, so I can play a chord and then the delay will catch the chord. Then I can swell back, do a chime, and fade it in. I did a lot of it on Essence. I overdubbed maybe four guitars on that.

Arlene: You played Mando guitar, twelve string guitar, different acoustic guitars, electric guitars, bass guitar, all on that one album.

Charlie Sexton: We did the basic tracking and most of those other things are little snippets that I spliced into the tracks. But the other thing I like doing too, when we did Essence… I was running loops that I would make as the song was going on and play chords over the loops. But it’s all coming out of one amp and it’s all live. It creates sort of an orchestral thing, where I’ve got a foundation of something that’s droning or going around and I’m playing things around it. I’ll play a chord and the delay will catch that. Then there will be some chimes and I’ll blend that back in with the chord.

Arlene: What’s your playing technique for those chimes? Are you finger picking or using a pick?

Charlie Sexton: I do it with a pick.

Essence - Lucinda Williams
Essence - Lucinda Williams

Arlene: How do you create certain chords with the chimes?

Charlie Sexton: I’ll flap them on the frets that are corresponding, twelve frets up, on the Octave. If I flap it, I’ll volume pedal back so you don’t actually hear the attack, and I’ll swell it in real quick. Then what that does, sometimes you only get a certain amount of the notes out of the chord that will come through. Then other times, I’ll do more of a pick, chime thing.

Arlene: When did you become involved with playing twelve string guitar, and is it any more of a challenge for you than playing a standard six string in terms of positioning your fingers, your technique, and so forth?

Charlie Sexton: The biggest challenge of the twelve string guitar is getting it in tune! [Laughing] That’s an old inside joke with guitar players because twelve string guitars are very finicky! You’ve got extra tension on the strings, plus the extra six strings, the small strings play way high and low strings that are regular. But harmonics are such an important thing to me, and it’s not just harmonics within the guitar, it’s harmonics within how two instruments relate to each other.

The same thing when you make tape loops. You create other harmonics from what your loop is, and the chord you’re playing against it. I use an Experience Pedal that I found years ago that I love, that basically is a fuzz box and an octave pedal, and this thing called Swell, which makes it sound like a guitar’s back width. The octaver creates all kinds of harmonics. If you play single notes, you’re basically getting a fuzz tone, a fundamental you’ll get a harmonic an octave above. It’s like the old Hendrix thing. If you play chords against that, sometimes it will just freak! You can tune your guitar like a strobe tuner does with distortion, if it’s out of tune. If you want to tune your guitar, you can hit octaves to see if it’s in tune. If it’s out of tune, it will start strobing, like womp, womp, womp, womp…if it’s flat. Then if you go above it, it will get faster again. The whole idea that I’m making are harmonics working each other. The sound waves start wavering because the notes are a little bit off. Then once you get the waves exactly on, you won’t hear any of that wavering.

Arlene: What gauge strings do you usually use for both acoustic and electric?

Charlie Sexton: I use T&T, GHS which is a heavy low end and a light top, because the bigger strings I use, the more tone I get. But I’m not as strong as I use to be because I had a bad motorcycle accident about, fifteen years ago or more, so my wrist was damaged fairly badly. I can’t wear my guitar the way I used to. I used to wear my guitar a lot lower. I use .010 on the high E string, .015 and .018 on the G, and then it gets bigger, like a .050 or a .052. They’re thick and thin. The high E, B, and D strings are a normal gauge. The A and the low end E strings are bigger.

Arlene: What effects are you currently using in your rig?

Charlie Sexton: I’m playing through the Vox AC50 amp. I was originally using an AC30 for my second amp, but I’ve been using this Valvetronix by Vox that looks like an AC30. It’s their new model, but it’s a completely different theory behind it. It’s got this natural sound that I like. This Valvetronix has a digital front end, but it has a tube power section. I can’t believe that it is what it is. Most of the other companies’ amps that I’ve played through, they’re like a modeling top thing and I usually laugh in about one minute of playing, thinking, “Ok.” This Valvetronix I plugged in, in a shop one day, and I played through it for some thirty minutes. I couldn’t believe the sound. So those are the amps. On the pedal board, I have a Rotosphere Leslie Clock which is the only one of those things that does it for me. On the rest of the pedal board, I have Electro-Harmonix Hot Tubes, which is a distortion box. It’s amazing. It’s got that Billy Gibbons quality!

I’ve been through a million distortion pedals and I don’t like any of them. The Hot Tubes is great with distortion. But there was nothing else that I could find that had sort of a little, edgy thing. So through a friend of mine, we designed a thing that he named the Sexdrive Pedal! [Laughs] It’s basically a line driver. Whatever the characteristics of your amps, it just makes it sound better.

Arlene: Are you thinking of marketing it?

Charlie Sexton: Right now, it’s just a boutique thing. It started off with this friend of mine that works on my amplifiers.

Arlene: You could take it up to Fender or something.

Charlie Sexton: Yeah! Well so far, everyone that hears it, buys it and loves it. There’s probably been fifty made so far. It started when I wanted a certain kind of sound and so my friend started working on it. He’d go, “What about this?” and I’d say, “Nope, that’s not right.” It took about a year to get it down.

Arlene: Well they say, necessity is the mother of invention. You don’t hear what you like that’s out there, so you create your own that sounds like what you’re hearing in your head.

Charlie Sexton: It really colors your sound. It makes your sound do more of what you want. I love it.

Arlene: Is it digital or analog?

Charlie Sexton: It’s analog,and there’s such a soul to the sound of analog.

© Copyright June 27, 2011 By Arlene R. Weiss-All Rights Reserved
© Copyright October 19, 2002 By Arlene R. Weiss-All Rights Reserved

[Edited on 11/6/2015 by ArleneWeiss]

 

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  posted on 11/6/2015 at 10:23 AM
Part 3. Charlie tells the story of The Arc Angels, the genesis of the band, how he first came to know and become creatively involved with Doyle Bramhall II and Double Trouble's Chris Layton and Tommy Shannon.

http://guitarinternational.com/2011/08/08/charlie-sexton-interview-part-iii -the-arc-angels-tom-waits-and-double-trouble/

Charlie Sexton: Part 3: The Arc Angels, Tom Waits, and Double Trouble

By Arlene R. Weiss

© Copyright June 27, 2011-2016 By Arlene R. Weiss-All Rights Reserved
© Copyright October 19, 2002 By Arlene R. Weiss-All Rights Reserved


The Arc Angels, their sole 1992 self-titled international release on Geffen Records, and the epic, incendiary musical maelstrom that they divined in their short lived body of work, ignited fireworks of accolades from both the public and the music industry, further propelling Sexton’s career and renown into the stratosphere to this very day. But personal problems and creative differences among the band’s members forced The Arc Angels’ dissolution in 1994, just as they were only beginning to fulfill their promise.

And so Sexton, again artistically stretching, always and ever open to new and unique creative projects and opportunities, formed his own band, The Charlie Sexton Sextet, and released 1995’s critically lauded Under The Wishing Tree. The album showcased Sexton’s introspective songwriting, singing, and eloquent playing, which reflected a now mature, contemplative artist eager to express his vast range and love of diverse and eclectic music styles including Celtic, folk, rock, and blues, but more importantly, his yearning to express his ongoing vision, insight, and evolution as an artist.

Thus, recently, the six string virtuoso realized his true calling as a producer, working hands-on in the recording studio (as well as performing his detailed, lush, sublime guitar textures) on Lucinda Williams’ 2001 release, Essence, and on Double Trouble’s all star guest laden album, 2001’s Been A Long Time. From 1999 on, the ever-evolving Texas guitar slinger has been garnering both critical and public esteem and acclaim for his soaring, stinging, blistering guitar playing as a member of Bob Dylan’s touring band. And if that’s not feather enough in Sexton’s cap, he’s also producing and playing guitar on fellow Texan singer, songwriter Edie Brickell’s new album, work in progress, (Volcano, which was completed and released October 2003), and he also headlined for a special “one time” reunion performance of The Arc Angels as the grand finale closing act at the first annual, International “Austin City Limits” Music Festival in September 2002, to much buzz and fanfare.

With the tour bus waiting, (as Sexton was finishing up touring with Dylan at the time), and twenty four hours in the day not enough for this wonderfully prolific talent, a delightfully charming and whimsical, yet reflective and resolute Sexton, expounded in mammoth detail and depth to what amounted to an autobiographical portrait and collection of all things guitar….from gear to his celestial playing technique, to fond and amazing anecdotes of the guitar shaped events, artists, and heart, of the life….and music, of Charlie Sexton.

******

Arlene: Who are your main guitar and musical influences?

Charlie Sexton: I like Robert Fripp as much as I like Albert Collins. I like Carlos Alomar as much as I like Leadbelly.

Arlene: But that’s good because you have a multi-range of artists that you admire.

Charlie Sexton: Yes. I can’t put Paganini over…It’s that my interests are so deep. Scotty Moore was probably the biggest influence early on in my life, when he played with Elvis on the Sun session stuff. I just love Scotty Moore. I like Paul Burlison who was in The Johnny Burnette Trio. Then there’s Bill Dillon who has played with everybody from Edie Brickell to Paul Simon. He’s really cool.

Arlene: In terms of singer, songwriters, you’ve cited Tom Waits as one of your main influences.

Edie Brickell - Volcano
Edie Brickell - Volcano

Charlie Sexton: Tom’s a great guitar player!

Arlene: Yes! And I heard that you finally, recently, got to perform with him. How did the two of you finally meet up, how did the performance come about, and especially, what was the emotional experience, and the impact of that for you? How did that inform you professionally as an artist?

Charlie Sexton: There was this fundraiser up in Hillsboro, in northern California. A couple of friends of mine were playing the show. So one of my friends asked, “Why don’t you come perform with me?” I said, “Ok.” That was my friend Tonio K., who was on the bill. There was Alejandro Escovedo, from Austin, who was also playing. T-Bone Burnett, who is a friend, and his wife, Sam Phillips were also performing, and I love Sam Phillips and T-Bone Burnett. Charlie Musselwhite was there as well. Then Tom was the headliner.

So we went there, and because I wanted to help, I offered and said to Tom, “Do you need any help tomorrow? If I can do anything, just let me know.” It was my birthday. This was about four or five years ago. We did our soundcheck, everybody else did their soundcheck, and then Tom did his soundcheck. He was performing solo. They locked the doors to the theater, and I spent the afternoon with Tom doing a soundcheck. We were hanging out. Tom was playing and doing his show, and he goes, “Hey, why don’t you come out at the end and do some songs with me?” So it was Tom and the Charlies, me and Musselwhite, backing up!

One of the songs that we did was “Jesus Gonna Be Here,” which is on Bone Machine. It’s amazing, because it’s Tom playing upright bass and singing, and on the entire song, the only thing Tom plays, is one note, live. (Charlie exuberantly sings words, and vocalized guitar sounds to “Jesus Gonna Be Here”) “Jesus Gonna Be Here, Yeah! Yeah!, Waahhhh!” That’s it! It was great! By the end of the show, Charlie played a harp, I played guitar, and Tom did vocals!

Arlene: Tell me how you, Doyle Bramhall II, and Double Trouble got invited to reunite as the Arc Angels and actually perform as the headlining, grand finale, closing act at the very first, 2002 “Austin City Limits” Music Festival? What are your reflections of that performance, knowing that you and the band…..your very reunion and performance, was a historic context, in and of itself; but it was also being done and performed at an equally historic milestone event?

Charlie Sexton: Since the band split up, there have been some offers here and there to do some shows. About four years ago, we did a handful of shows, about four or five shows, in Texas, because a few offers would come in and we thought, “Oh, this would be fun.” But by the time the band had originally split up, no one was getting along very well for a multitude of reasons. Since then, we became friends. I started writing with Doyle on his projects, and for his records. I’ve also been working with Chris and Tommy on their record, and what have you.

Then we got the call to do the festival. It’s one of the offers that comes through every now and then. I was completely shocked that they wanted us to close everything. I was honored to be on the bill, because it was a great roster of people that were performing. They asked us to do the reunion performance and it was just one of those things where it worked out for everybody schedule wise, so we just did it.

Arlene: The name for The Arc Angels; is normally spelled, Archangel, and you and the band had spelled it as two separate words, Arc and Angels. Isn’t that an intentional reference to The ARC, The Austin Rehearsal Complex?

Bone Machine - Tom Waits
Bone Machine - Tom Waits

Charlie Sexton: Totally, because that’s where it all….

Arlene: I had a feeling because you’ve recorded so much of your work there through the years.

Charlie Sexton: Yeah! Well what happened was, I had a studio there. The people that owned and ran that, one of the owners, (Wayne Nagle), was my road manager for years. The other owner, (Don Harvey), was my drummer for awhile, on my first record. So they had met through me. The first day it opened, I had my studio there. I had a little studio there. So I was there almost every day, and I was at that place for nine years. And in the hallways, when I’d go to work, I’d see……

Arlene: That’s a nice tip of the hat. I think it’s a nice way to pay homage to your roots and to a place that you spent so much of your time creating music at.

Charlie Sexton: After Stevie did Family Style with Jimmie, they were going to go out and do a tour without Double Trouble. It was going to be Stevie, along with Jimmie and some guys from the record. So I’d run into Chris Layton in the hallways, who’s an old friend, and he goes, “Hey, listen. We’re not really doing much. We should do some gigs. Tommy, and I, and you, and Doyle. I said, “Ok. Let’s do it.” We actually booked a gig on a Monday night in Austin in some little club, just for fun. Down, a few weeks away, before we could do the gig, Stevie was killed and obviously, we didn’t do the show, because Chris and Tommy were completely distraught. We all were.

Then at some point, they needed to get out and play and start the process of trying to heal. So we did one show, and it just went over. It was a lot of fun. It went over great. It was well attended, and so we booked another gig. Then, by the time we did our second gig, there were some record companies calling and it all started from there. It just sort of happened. We were a band before we knew we were a band. [Laughing] The band name is definitely a reference, because it all began in the hallways of The ARC. It’s also a play on words, on The Archangels, in the Biblical sense.

Arlene: Last year, you reunited with Double Trouble and Doyle to produce, write, sing, and play some of your most eloquent guitar work, on Double Trouble’s record, Been A Long Time, which you followed up with two all star gala reunion performances, which included Double Trouble and Doyle, as well as special guests, Jonny Lang, Eric Johnson, Jimmie Vaughan, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and most of Austin’s music elite. But at both of the performances, which were held the same day, and I followed this as it happened, for an “Austin City Limits” taping and at The Austin Music Hall, you were the Musical Director. How did you get involved as the Musical Director for the two performances, and what were the challenges, demands, and satisfaction, of pulling together so many talented guitarists and artists in a major, large scale, cohesive stage production, that came off seamless and full of exuberant, creative synergy?

Charlie Sexton: I started off just to do one track on the Double Trouble record. That was “Cry Sky.” That was the first thing that I did with them. They had already done it once and they weren’t happy with how it had turned out. So, I came in and redid some things on production and so forth. Then after we did that one song, they went, “You’re kind of good at this, and helpful, so do some more!” So whenever I was in town, or available, we would do another session, whether it was with Dr. John, or Jonny Lang, or whoever. Since I had done all that work on that record and oversaw a lot of the recording, Chris called me and said, “Will you M.D. this thing, because with that amount of people, it helps to have one person spearhead the whole thing.” Plus, I don’t get in people’s way when they’re working on things. So when Dr. John couldn’t make the two performances, I said, “Let’s get Jonny to sing the track he did.” And “How do we do it? Are we going to do a different version than Dr. John did on the record? Let’s work out the song this way.”

Arlene: You said that you like being in charge of things from the producing angle. That it’s like directing for you. Doesn’t stage management fall into the same feeling for you, creatively?

Charlie Sexton: Producing a record is like being a Director on a film. When I’m in that kind of job, I do my best to be very open minded and sort of invisible.

Arlene: As talented as everybody is, and they are, it still takes a great Director to bring out that talent at its best and brightest. You really know how to tap the potential of people. And that’s a talent in and of itself.

Charlie Sexton: Yeah! Like when we did the taping of Jonny doing the song, “Baby, There’s No One Like You,” he had never sung the song because Dr. John had done it on the record.

Arlene: Jonny brought the house down, too!

Charlie Sexton: He did, but the thing that you didn’t see, [Laughing] was we had three false starts because Jonny forgot……He would get to a certain part and he’d forget the next line, and go “Oh no.” He’d get nervous, and I’m standing next to him going, “Oh that’s fine. Good.” By the third time, he’s like “Oh no!” He’s really nervous. I’m going, “Come on Jonny, three’s the charm!” [Laughs] And then he totally killed them with his performance!

Arlene: They need to have an “Austin City Limits” outtakes, like when you watch comedy shows and they have the little bloopers at the beginning and the end!

Charlie Sexton: Jonny is one of the sweetest guys I’ve ever known. He is just the greatest guy.

Arlene: Oh, I adore him! I thought his version, and don’t get me wrong, I love the Dr. John version on the record….I thought Jonny’s live version was better. He had that whole audience cheering!

Charlie Sexton: He is it!

Arlene: But you, when you opened that show on the guitar, that set the whole thing in motion. Just the shot of you and the sound! It was so gorgeous. It was so eloquent when you were playing that acoustic Gibson, starting “Cry Sky” at the beginning of the show. That just set the whole thing…..I knew everything was going to be great after that.

Charlie Sexton: That’s another outtake that you didn’t see. That was the first thing we shot. And the guy that was working with me, there was a miscommunication about where the capo went, and I was so overwhelmed with everything that was going on, that I started playing the song. The capo was in the wrong place! It was in the wrong key! [Laughing] I wasn’t thinking about it, because I was like, “Ok. This is what’s going to happen next. I have to make sure these guys come in on the song.” And no one is starting, and the reason, Double Trouble goes, “Charlie! You’re in the wrong key!” I went, “Oh Man!” [Laughs] So I made my mistake early on in that performance!

Been a Long Time - Double Trouble
Been a Long Time - Double Trouble

Arlene: What was The Austin Music Hall performance like that night? How did that go?

Charlie Sexton: It was crazy, because that whole day, we had already done three days of rehearsals with all the bands. I had come straight off tour, but the taping started 8:00 in the morning, we were at the studio all day, went to sound check, and had an hour between that and the show. But it was great. It was a great way to do it all, to do the taping, and then finish it off with a live show. It was a great way to go about it.

Arlene: How did you actually get involved with working on Been A Long Time, and in so many different creative roles on that particular record? You produced it, you co-wrote some of the songs, you sang, and of course you played guitar?

Charlie Sexton: When people say, “Well what do you do?” I say, “Whatever it takes.” That’s the way I look at it. If it’s play, then I play. If it’s step out and not play, then I do that too.

Arlene: How did you get the call from Double Trouble to do all that work on their record? How did that come about?

Charlie Sexton: Well, even on The Arc Angels’ record, on a lot of the songs, I’d done a lot of preliminary production, arranging, hammering out the way things should sound, and the vibe. So Tommy and Chris knew that was my bag. They also heard me do other work along the way. So it started with one song, “Cry Sky”, and then Tommy just freaked and went, “You’ve really made this come to life!” So little by little, I would do more and more.

Arlene: “Turn Towards The Mirror”, the duet between you and Doyle….magic!

Charlie Sexton: They came in and Chris said “I have this song.” We got in the studio, and he did have a song, but it wasn’t quite finished yet. We had to track that day. So we sat down, figured out the pinholes, and smoothed it out.

Arlene: How did you first meet and begin working with Double Trouble; with Tommy and Chris?

Charlie Sexton: The first time I met Chris was when the original bass player for Double Trouble was Jackie Newhouse, and I used to go see Stevie play all the time. Stevie would let me go up and play. Then I remember the first time I met Tommy, Stevie was playing somewhere in Austin and I came. I had never seen Tommy. He had just joined the band. So I showed up, and it’s about quarter to two in the morning, Stevie sees me, he goes, “Hey, come get up here and play!” I said “Ok.” So Stevie gives me his guitar and he goes to get a drink or something. I remember the look on Tommy’s face, like, “Why is Stevie doing this, letting this kid get up here and play?!” And I go, “Ok, Elmore James! [Emulates guitar sound] waaahhh!!” And Tommy was just looking at me like, “I don’t believe this!”

Arlene: How old were you then?

Charlie Sexton: Probably about eleven or twelve!

Arlene: Little, green wet behind the ears kid! [Laughing] You’ve also performed on a lot of Doyle’s solo records. How did you first meet and begin working with Doyle?

Charlie Sexton: The first time I saw Doyle, was when he was playing in The Thunderbirds and Jimmie showed me a videotape of Doyle performing, and I went, “Oh, cool!” But actually, I take it back. I met Doyle when I was on the road. I was about thirteen or fourteen, we played some little dive in Fort Worth, and his mother I think, brought him out to the show.

Arlene: Though you’ve also distinguished yourself as an esteemed artist and as a solo artist in your own right, continuously finding, shaping, and evolving your own distinct musical voice, it seems that you very often welcome creative opportunities to join forces with any, and all, of your past Arc Angels colleagues. Can you elaborate on this, and also, it seems like there has always been this powerful chemistry and camaraderie amongst the four of you, whenever you work together.

Charlie Sexton: It’s one of those natural things. We never intended to do it. Us getting together in the first place, just sort of happened. Originally, I did a lot of that because I felt a certain personal debt that I had to repay to Chris and to Tommy, because they were instrumental in my development, early on, and particularly, because of the way everything went down in life, with Stevie passing on and all. I felt that it was the least I could do. If I could help them recover musically from such a great tragedy, then it was definitely my duty to do so.

Arlene: But fate sometimes, is a good thing because when you all come together, there’s real chemistry.

Charlie Sexton: Yes! Also, Doyle and I, we’re about the same age. I never perform and play with anyone my own age, and Doyle’s one of the few. And we’re diverse, yet more and more, we share more musical things in common.

Arlene: Any possibility that The Arc Angels will ever get together for a new record and a major tour someday?

Charlie Sexton: Well, never say never!

Arlene: Though you’re renowned for your blues, rock roots and guitar playing, your work with artists such as Double Trouble, Tom Waits, Edie Brickell, and Lucinda Williams, are examples of your multi-faceted, and multi-styled musical roots and guitar playing. What musical direction do you think you will be pursuing next in terms of your guitar playing, your producing, and your many talents as a singer, songwriter?

Charlie Sexton: I think the best directions happen naturally, so I just do what I’m hearing in my head, or what I’m feeling in my heart. It’s not something that I like to put a tag on, because it will get tagged by someone eventually anyway.

Arlene: Right. You want to expand your horizons in terms of everything, producing, singing, working with any artist, guitar playing. It doesn’t matter what music genre it is.

Charlie Sexton: Yeah! It could be whatever I help someone get across in their music, if I can play a small part in that, then that’s what can be done and what I want to do.

© Copyright June 27, 2011 By Arlene R. Weiss-All Rights Reserved
© Copyright October 19, 2002 By Arlene R. Weiss-All Rights Reserved

 

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  posted on 11/7/2015 at 10:30 AM
But what's Charlie doing now? An Arc Angels reunion would be pretty cool. They put out some good music together.
 

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  posted on 11/7/2015 at 10:55 AM
quote:
But what's Charlie doing now? An Arc Angels reunion would be pretty cool. They put out some good music together.


The Arc Angels launched a comeback of sorts about 4-5 years ago and put out a live album and toured a little but it didn't do very well and wasn't conceived or executed properly. No merchandise at shows, only played small seater clubs, the live CD (which sucked and had awful sound and production on some cheesy little label), wasn't even done or available when the shows/tour happened. It fizzled quickly.

Charlie's forays into production didn't work out so he's been back touring with Bob Dylan for quite some time now (see his Facebook site. https://www.facebook.com/CharlieSextonMusic/

Doyle is touring with Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeshi, and Doyle also tours with the annual Experience Hendrix Tour. Chris Layton gigs on The Experience Hendrix Tour as well every year. Tommy Shannon is mostly retired due to health reasons and sat out the Arc Angels "comeback" as well.

 

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Arlene Weiss-Journalist

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Peach Master



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  posted on 11/7/2015 at 03:49 PM
Thanks for the reply Arlene. I saw DBII here in Buffalo about a year ago in a small club. I think it was not long after the Experience Hendrix tour ended. Really good show and it was a treat to see such a good guitar player in a small venue. He's very underrated in my book.
 
 


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