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Banjo on the Mountain

Wade Mainer's First Hundred Years

Dick Spottswood, Stephen Wade

Publication Year: 2010

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.

Published by: University Press of Mississippi


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p. v

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pp. vii-x

Carl Sauceman (1922–2005) remembered hearing the Mainers’ music as he grew up in rural East Tennessee. When I was small I was drawn to country music too, along with daily serial dramas, crackly transmissions from World War II European battle fronts, oracular pronouncements from evening news disseminators Gabriel Heatter and Lowell Thomas, little boy adventure shows like The Lone Ranger, Jack Armstrong...

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The Wade Mainer Story

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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...

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Wade Mainer’s Banjo Playing

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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...

Photos, Letters, and Memories

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pp. 38-99

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Broadcast Chronology

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pp. 101-102

Early country music groups and southern radio stations mutually profited from their interdependence. The stations, their sponsors, and listeners enjoyed inexpensive live entertainment, while musicians profited from the high profile they received in return, allowing them to attract sponsors, sell records and souvenir songbooks, and draw audiences to personal appearances. The downside of this arrangement was that they could perform only for limited...


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pp. 103-128


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pp. 129-134

E-ISBN-13: 9781604734997
E-ISBN-10: 160473499X
Print-ISBN-13: 9781604734980
Print-ISBN-10: 1604734981

Page Count: 128
Publication Year: 2010

OCLC Number: 651602039
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Banjo on the Mountain