Arts & Culture

Banjo Pickin' Time at Niles Gallery


LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 28, 2010) − The UK John Jacob Niles Center for American Music invites the public to enjoy a rollicking concert of traditional Appalachian music, as musicians Lee Sexton and John Haywood perform as part of the concert series "Appalachia in the Bluegrass." The concert, which is free and open to the public, is scheduled for noon Friday, Oct. 1, in the Niles Gallery, located in the Lucille C. Little Fine Arts Library and Learning Center

When Lee "Boy" Sexton, a Letcher County, Ky., native, was eight years old, he bought his first banjo, a homemade wooden fretless model with a groundhog skin head that cost him one whole dollar. With help from his father and uncles, he quickly mastered the banjo, as well as the fiddle.

Growing up, Sexton worked all week in the mines, but come the weekend, he focused on his passion for music. He performed at house parties, bean stringings and corn shuckings, and later earned a reputation as one of the most respected and revered folk musicians in Eastern Kentucky. Sexton's renowned talent landed him a brief role in the1980 film "The Coal Miner's Daughter," where he appears performing at a square dance. In 1999, Sexton was presented with the Kentucky Governor's Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts.

To see a performance by Lee Sexton, watch him play "Shady Grove," "Little Maggie" and "Wildwood Flower" on YouTube at

Accompanying Sexton for the concert is John Haywood, an award-winning old time banjo player. Haywood was born in a holler in Eastern Kentucky, and as a child, he saw life differently than those who grew up in more economically developed areas. This diversity inspires his paintings and his music, which he uses to pay tribute to the lifestyles that make Kentucky and Appalachia some of the most unique, celebrated places in the world. His art tells stories of hell-raising hillbillies, hardened mine workers, mountain musicians and more.

Haywood is a member of the musical groups Rich and the Po' Folk and the Travelin' Snakes, but he also performs solo. He currently lives in Knott County with his wife and daughters.

To listen to music performed by Haywood, visit his MySpace page online at

The "Appalachia in the Bluegrass" concert series celebrates the old time roots of American Folk music by featuring a diverse range of traditional musical expression. The concert series illustrates the many faces of the Bluegrass' indigenous American Folk music, from the authentic old time sound of mountain banjo player Lee Boy Sexton to the blues-infused style of Sparky and Rhonda Rucker. The Niles Center is a collaborative research and performance center of the UK College of Fine Arts, UK School of Music and UK Libraries.

This year the series is made possible with support from the Office of the Provost, the Niles Center and the Appalachian Studies Program.

 For more information on the Lee Sexton and John Haywood concert or the "Appalachia in the Bluegrass" concert series, contact Ron Pen, director of the Niles Center by e-mail to or visit online at