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Morgan Sexton: Bull Creek Banjo Player

Film by Anne Lewis
Produced by Anne Lewis with Buck Maggard
Cinematographer: Andrew Garrison
Sound: Anne Lewis Johnson
Editing: Anne Lewis Johnson
Copyright: 1991, Appalshop
28 minutes, Color
Original format: 3/4 inch videotape: U-matic, 1991
Distributor: Appalshop, Inc.
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Eastern Kentucky's Morgan Sexton cut his first banjo out of the bottom of a lard bucket, and some seventy years later won the National Endowment for the Arts' National Heritage Award for his "amazingly pure and unaffected singing and playing style." In this program, the eighty-year-old Sexton shares his life and music. He recounts how a series of family tragedies forced him to go to work while still a boy and tells of his days gathering crops, logging timber, cutting railroad ties, and of his later work in the coal mines.

Morgan and his nephew Lee Sexton talk about learning music from their elders and each other, and the old days when, after a hard day's work, they would "roll up the rug" to play music and dance with the neighbors. Intercut with these stories are Morgan's renditions of his favorite songs, including "Little Birdie," "Wagner's Lad," "Bonnie Blue Eyes," "London City Where I Did Dwell," and "Beautiful Doll."

Morgan Sexton has endured the Depression, cultivated a mountain farm and survived the hazards of a mining career with an impressive dignity and presence. He has also preserved a hauntingly beautiful traditional style of banjo picking and singing from a long gone era. He is truly a national treasure, and this wonderful portrait allows us to enter his life.
--- Loyal Jones, Director, Appalachian Center, Berea College


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