WMMT’s June Appal Spotlight: Lee Sexton

Lee Sexton in his garden in Linefork, Kentucky. Photo credit Parker Hobson.

Art of the Rural will feature several installments of WMMT’s June Appal Spotlight throughout the Year of the Rural Arts 2014. We are proud to welcome WMMT’s Parker Hobson as our guest editor for this series. Parker Hobson grew up in Louisville, Kentucky and holds a degree in Music from Davidson College.  He is also a songwriter and producer who self-recorded and self-released an album, “flat-footed ghost,” in 2009 that some people thought was all right and other people probably didn’t.  The lead singer from Concrete Blonde called an Italian restaurant in New Orleans where he once worked to say she liked it, though, which was “pretty cool.”  He has toured nationwide in support of said music, won an award for music writing at Davidson, can generally fit through narrow spaces, is trying to pick up the fiddle, and won the Gene Kelly Award in Little League for Dancing in the Batter’s Box.  He’s also super excited and incredibly honored to be at both WMMT and Appalshop.

By Parker Hobson

This year marks the 40th anniversary of June Appal Records, a record label started by the non-profit Appalshop media center in 1974 to document, preserve, and promote the traditional music of Central Appalachia.  Over the course of 86 releases (and counting!), June Appal has released a wide range of traditional and contemporary mountain music, featuring musicians young and old; world-famous artists alongside others scarcely known outside of their own communities; and full-length LPs from seven National Heritage Award winners, some of whom released their first albums on the imprint.

This summer, in a new radio series, WMMT’s June Appal Spotlight, WMMT is looking back at the life and work of several June Appal recording artists.  In our first installment, we focus on Lee Sexton, a traditional Appalachian banjo player born and raised in the community of Linefork in Letcher County, Ky.  Now 86, Lee has gained a reputation as a world-renowned master of mountain banjo playing while remaining a regular fixture and a revered figure in the local music community.

Listen to the newly released radio segement featuring Lee Sexton here: WMMT’s June Appal Spotlight: Lee Sexton

whoamuleThe 35-track reissue of Whoa Mule supplements the original LP with new concert and studio recordings spanning nearly 50 years of Lee’s musical development.

You can find Lee’s June Appal release Whoa Mule here.  Lee will also perform at this year’s Seedtime on the Cumberland festival of traditional mountain music and art, June 6-7 on the Appalshop grounds in Whitesburg, Ky.  Lee’s peformance, as well as the majority of the festival, is free.  Click here for a full schedule.

Art of the Rural is partnering with Appalshop to provide live social media coverage of the Seedtime festival. Seedtime on the Cumberland is our June feature for the Year of the Rural Arts Calendar of Events. Stay dialed in throughout the week for more information about Seedtime, Appalshop, and the central coalfields of Kentucky.