Lee and Opal Sexton are subsistence farmers living at the head of a hollow, at the end of Dead End Road in Eastern Kentucky. Opal carefully preserves all that their garden produces. Lee, a retired coal miner and legendary banjo player, continues to perform at square dances and teach his distinctive style of playing to a new generation. They hail from a vanishing traditional culture. Lee is a vibrant, living link to the deep past of American music. The raw power of his banjo was featured on the landmark 1960 release Mountain Music of Kentucky (Smithsonian/Folkways); of that group of musicians he is the only one left.
The film follows the couple’s daily rhythms over the course of a year: their times together, their struggles, and the looming reality of ever-advancing age and frailty. 215 Dead End Road aims to bring Mr. Sexton to his proper place in the discourse of Appalachian music and, in so doing, to offer an honest portrait of the contemporary life and culture of the region, to highlight its significance to American musical heritage.