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Stage Flight
by Jessica Carner
Mar 06, 2011 | 3242 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune/John Byrne - Reno High School junior Nick Sexton performed with guitarist Craig Chaquico at John Ascuaga’s Nugget in a concert to benefit the Washoe County School District’s arts programs. Chaquico played for 20 years with the band Jefferson Starship before embarking on a solo career.
Tribune/John Byrne - Reno High School junior Nick Sexton performed with guitarist Craig Chaquico at John Ascuaga’s Nugget in a concert to benefit the Washoe County School District’s arts programs. Chaquico played for 20 years with the band Jefferson Starship before embarking on a solo career.
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Tribune/John Byrne - Craig Chaquico, left, takes a break from practicing with Reno High School junior Nick Sexton before a concert Friday at John Ascuaga’s Nugget.
Tribune/John Byrne - Craig Chaquico, left, takes a break from practicing with Reno High School junior Nick Sexton before a concert Friday at John Ascuaga’s Nugget.
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SPARKS — A Reno High School student played with guitar legend Craig Chaquico Friday night during a concert at John Ascuaga’s Nugget.

This is the second year the Nugget has teamed up with the Washoe County School District for a concert to raise money for the school district’s fine arts department, and 17-year-old Nick Sexton was selected to take part in the show.

Dave Branson, music and arts director for WCSD, said that last year and this year he worked with Stephen Ascuaga and Rob Brooks at the Nugget to find an artist willing to spend a little time with local music students.

“We try to find an artist that is kid-friendly,” Branson said. “Then we have asked, if there is a talented student, if the student can play with them.”

A group of Washoe County students attended a sound check session Friday afternoon before the opening of the show to ask Chaquico questions and watch Sexton practice with the band.

Kevin Carlson and Taylor Clark of Truckee Meadows Community College High School said they have a passion for music and are huge fans of Chaquico.

“We are stoked to be here,” Clark said.

Chaquico began playing guitar professionally when he was a teenager, and said he was happy to welcome Sexton to the stage.

“It’s kind of fun for us having a local high school student stand in with us since I was about his age when I started,” Chaquico said.

Chaquico said he started out with Jefferson Starship, spending 20 years with the band.

“I was the only one who stayed through all the changes in the band,” he said.

“With 20 Gold records combined between Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship and Starship, Craig was instrumental in making that combination one of the most successful bands in history,” his website states.

After leaving Jefferson Starship, Chaquico embarked on a successful music career on his own. But if you aren’t sure who Chaquico is, don’t feel badly. His website states, as Craig likes to say,  “... probably the most famous guitarist that nobody has ever heard of and that they probably couldn’t pronounce the name even if they had,  but everybody still hears on the radio after being at the top of the charts for five consecutive decades now, ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, ’00s, ’10s. Nobody is more surprised than I am about that or more grateful.”

When asked prior to Friday’s show if he was nervous about performing with Chaquico, Sexton said he felt pretty comfortable.

“I’m not really nervous,” Sexton said. “I’ve performed a lot.”

Sexton, a junior at Reno High, is part of the University of Nevada, Reno All-Star Jazz Combo and Washoe County Honor Jazz Band. He’s been playing guitar since the age of 9 and began taking lessons in eighth grade.

A passion for music and love of the guitar was passed down to Sexton from his older brother Mark, of the local Mark Sexton Band, he said.

The younger Sexton said he plans to attend UNR for a couple of years after he graduates from high school, and then hopes to be accepted to Berklee College of Music in Boston or Cornish College of Arts in Seattle.

“Then I will see how far I can go,” Sexton said. “It’s all about passion for music. I’ll see where I can take it.”

As Sexton took center stage and played a freestyle jazz solo on his guitar during Friday’s sound check, Chaquico stepped back, smiled and nodded his head in approval. When asked what he was teaching Sexton, Chaquico laughed.

“What am I showing him?” Chaquico said of Sexton. “He’s teaching me.”

All proceeds from Friday night’s show went to promote music and the arts at WCSD.
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