LeRoy Mumma passes

LeRoy E Mumma passed away peacefully at his home in Denver, Pennsylvania, on July 2, 2019, aged 82. He had been having health issues for several years. 

Mumma (pronounced MOOmaw) was born in Ephrata, Pennsylvania, played with some famous names in bluegrass music, such as Charlie Bailey, the Bailey Brothers; banjo pioneer Johnnie Whisnant – Mumma played fiddle on Whisnant’s Rounder album; Bob Paisley & the Southern Grass, starting in the summer of 1980; and Spirits of Bluegrass. 

In 1980, Mumma, as a member of the Southern Grass, was in the backing band that assisted Rose Maddox during her appearance at the Brandywine Mountain Music Convention at Galax that year. 

While with the Bailey Brothers he performed at the Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C.. 

During Mumma’s tenure with Bob Paisley, in the early 1980s, he toured Europe and Canada, performed at venues up and down the east coast of the U.S.A. as well as recording five albums.  

After his stint with Paisley, Mumma worked with Spirits of Bluegrass, featuring on one of their LPs. 

In 2009 he released a long-overdue solo album, It’s About Time, backed by Danny Paisley and the then members of Southern Grass. 

Mumma’s playing style has been likened to that of Clarence ‘Tater’ Tate – with solid backup, with double-stops often reminiscent of Tate.

He had extensive technical knowledge of string instruments and served as a judge at fiddle contests in Berks County, Pennsylvania. 

Despite his declining health, in recent years Mumma was keen to pass on his knowledge as a mentor at the Mountain Folk Youth Bluegrass Jams, based in Reading, Pennsylvania. 

In its inaugural year, 2006, Mumma was honored by the Greenwood Furnace Folk Gathering as a Pennsylvania Heritage musician. 

As well as being a fiddle player of some repute, Mumma enjoyed hunting and fishing. 

LeRoy Mumma R.I.P.

Arrangements by Gravenor Home for Funerals, Inc. 

A reception will be held on Tuesday, July 9, 2019, from 10:00 am to 11:00 am at the Peace United Church of Christ, 37 E Swartzville Road, Denver, Pennsylvania 17517. 

Following that, there will be a memorial service, also at the Peace United Church of Christ, with interment at Bergstrasse Lutheran Cemetery, Ephrata, Pennsylvania. 

Condolences may be sent to Gravenor Home for Funerals, Inc. 

Danny Paisley remembers … 

“LeRoy Mumma was a wonderful, powerful fiddler. He knew a just a warehouse of fiddle tunes. 

In the earlier years of his music he played in several Pennsylvania bluegrass and country bands. Played with Charlie Bailey of the Bailey Brothers and Johnny Whisnant, early banjo picker, and Spirits of Bluegrass. And most notably Bob Paisley and the Southern Grass where he toured Europe, Great Britain and Canada. With Bob he recorded on several of his earlier recordings.

At the urging of his wife Ruth and myself, LeRoy in his later years recorded a CD with some of his favorite fiddle tunes. 

LeRoy bought and sold fiddles and instruments along with antiques in his later years, often sought out by fellow fiddlers just for that right fiddle or advice. 

What I loved about LeRoy the most was his kind, humble nature. He never wanted anyone to praise him, but boy was he quick to give encouragement to any young fiddler that came across his path.”

Ken Gehret, a fellow member of the Not Your Father’s Bluegrass Band, rates LeRoy Mumma was the favorite “first call” for hoedowns and square dances in the Pennsylvania / Maryland region ……

“Over the many years, Leroy and I have played together in various bluegrass band situations, playing gigs and jam sessions, etc. 

I met him in 1964. We both played in Trump’s (not Donald…lol) Mountaineers. He played fiddle and I played banjo. I was too young to drive, so Leroy would pick me up and take me to the gig with him. (I guess, I cost him plenty of extra gasoline in those days. lol).

There were other fiddlers in the area at that time but, Leroy was an actual, real, bona-fide bluegrass fiddler who also, played fiddle tunes in the “melodic fiddling style” vs the ‘sawing hoedown style.’ I remember learning several tunes from him that even to this day, many other fiddlers do not know or play.

He will be sorely missed in the bluegrass fiddle world and, the big wide world has lost, one very nice, gentle man.

Leroy kept himself together while having very bad health problems by playing the fiddle. The fiddle was certainly his greatest love and joy in life!”

A Discography 

LeRoy Mumma

  • It’s About Time (self-released, in 2009)

Johnnie Whisnant

  • Johnnie Whisnant (Rounder, released in 1974)

Bob Paisley and Southern Grass

  • Bob Paisley & the Southern Grass (Rounder, 1981)
  • An Old Love Affair (Brandywine, 1982) 
  • Pickin’ in Holland (Strictly Country Records, 1982)
  • I Still Love You Yet (Mountain Laurel, 1985) 
  • Live in Holland (Strictly Country Records, 1991) 

Spirits of Bluegrass

  • On Down the Highway (Mountain Laurel, 1985)

A.G. And Kate

  • A.G. And Kate And Friends Vol. 1 (Sheppey Records and Publications, 2014) 

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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.