Morgan Sexton: Banjo Player from Bull Creek (Film)

Morgan Sexton: Banjo Player from Bull Creek

  •  Anne Lewis
  •  1991
  • Color IconColor
  •  28:22
  •  3/4" U-matic video
Film Description
Eastern Kentucky’s Morgan Sexton cut his first banjo out of the bottom of a lard bucket, and some 70 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 80-year old Sexton shares his life and music, 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 working 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 “rollup 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.”

Screenings & Festivals
  • DC LaborFest
  • Folkstreams
  • Appalachian Folk and Heritage Conference
  • University of California, Berkeley

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“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, Appalachian Center, Berea College
“His banjo picking is a delicate and absolutely individual version of the Appalachian two-fingered style, liquid and serene, each melody using its own particular tuning in the old-fashinoned way.” — National Heritage Fellowships
“A subtle, engaging program which provides the viewer with a clear sense of the relationship between Morgan’s musical style, his personality and his family background.” — Center for Appalachian Studies and Services, East Tennessee State University