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RIP Lee Sexton

Friday, February 19, 2021 @2:34:40 PM

For years I wondered how to contact my banjo hero, Lee Sexton. I’d ask around but no one had a clue. He was like my Elvis Presley—an icon—so it took forever for it to occur to me: “What if he’s just in the phone book?” Sure enough, 411 connected me right through to his booming voice, “Yello?!” Nervously, I asked if I could meet him for a lesson and he said, “Come on down!” He gave me directions to Line Fork and couldn’t have been more warm and funny. I went to the Campbell’s Branch school a few times over the years and filmed snippets of Mr. Lee’s 2-finger style of banjo. Then I’d go home and play them on repeat to learn. He was just wonderful, and the very last of his kind. And I don’t mean the “picking” kind, but the Happy kind. The unpretentious kind once found easily in phonebooks. He played old time banjo music that still served the souls of a small community; yet it was a musical genre that had become puritanical in the festivals, weaponized in the cities and—to this day—still teeters on the edge of cancellation. Lee Sexton, however, towered above it all...bulletproof to such issues. There was just something about his good-hearted, raw confidence that made everybody relax and smile. So, Rest In Peace, the joyous, welcoming soul of Mr. Lee Sexton. You will be forever irreplaceable.

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Saturday, August 15, 2015 @8:34:58 AM 2 comments

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