His biography of seminal banjo picker and bandleader Wade Mainer is due out from the University Press of Mississippi in the next few weeks. Banjo on the Mountain – Wade Mainer’s First Hundred Years tells the story of the man who made a career in country music playing the banjo 10 years before the first Bill Monroe record hit the airwaves.
Born in North Carolina in 1907, Mainer performed professionally from 1934 until 1953, originally in his brother, fiddler J.E. Mainer’s band (Mainer’s Mountaineers), and later with his own group, The Sons Of The Mountaineers. His hey day was during the popularity of “hillbilly music” in the 1930s and ’40s, but he left music to work for General Motors in the 1950s. Since that time, he has recorded only a few albums of Gospel music and toured sporadically with his wife, Julia. He has played very little since he retired in 1993.
Mainer’s life is told through his personal reflections, and the wealth of documents, memorabilia and photos he has preserved from his long career in music. Spottswood spent time with Wade and Julia in Michigan, where they open their collection of treasured keepsakes for the book.
Banjo on The Mountain will be available in both paper and ebook editions in early August.