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Banjo on the Mountain

Banjo on the Mountain: Wade Mainer's First Hundred Years

Dick Spottswood
With an essay by Stephen Wade
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 128
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  • Book Info
    Banjo on the Mountain
    Book Description:

    Wade Mainer (b. 1907) is believed to be the longest-lived country entertainer ever. His banjo lessons began in childhood and he played informally into his adult years, when he joined his brother, fiddler J. E. Mainer (1898-1971), in Mainer's Mountaineers. Music became their ticket out of the cotton mills in 1934. At the time, country styles were swiftly evolving from community-based performance into mass-market broadcast via radio, records, and the silver screen. Mainer's Mountaineers attracted radio sponsors and touring opportunities, allowing the brothers to become full-time musicians.Eventually Wade Mainer formed his own band, the Sons of the Mountaineers. His success secured a permanent place for the fiddle and banjo sound in country music, sustained that sound's popularity throughout the 1930s, and created the foundation upon which Bill Monroe and his disciples would spread bluegrass music in the 1940s.Banjo on the Mountain features Wade's own words and recollections from a lifetime in music and an exciting career that included a command performance at the White House for President Franklin D. Roosevelt and a key role in The Old Chisholm Trail, a 1944 BBC-sponsored radio play for American troops and embattled English civilians. The volume is rich in photographs and documents, thanks to Wade and Julia Mainer's careful custodianship of letters, professional photos and family snapshots, posters, songbooks, flyers, and other priceless curios.

    eISBN: 978-1-60473-499-7
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. The Wade Mainer Story
    (pp. 3-26)

    Wade Mainer’s long and rewarding life story has been told many times, as it deserves to be. Coming out of a rich musical environment in western North Carolina, he has taken the sounds he grew up with and shaped them according to his own creative instincts, preserving his distinctive brand of mountain music on a series of recordings stretching back seventy-five years, and appearing on music-making occasions to this day, well into the second century of his life.

    Wade kept the sound of America’s greatest indigenous instrument, the five-string banjo, alive during the lean years of the 1930s, when it...

  5. Wade Mainer’s Banjo Playing
    (pp. 27-37)

    “Nobody ever showed me anything on the banjo. I just stuck to what I got and I hung on to it.”¹ At age 102, Wade Mainer speaks with candor about his sprawling musical past. Though he insists that “I don’t have that much banjo learning,” and judges his self-taught skills a product of tenacity more than talent, he has bequeathed to bluegrass an enduring repertory. He names a few of his contributions: “Little Maggie,” “Dream of the Miner’s Child,” “Little Pal,” “Uncloudy Day,” and “Have a Little Talk with Jesus.” In another conversation he brings up still more: “Maple on...

    (pp. 38-100)
  7. Broadcast Chronology
    (pp. 101-102)
  8. Discography
    (pp. 103-128)
  9. Index
    (pp. 129-134)