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Obit: Wade Mainer (1907-2011)

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Cool Beans 13 Sep 11 - 12:18 PM
Desert Dancer 13 Sep 11 - 12:35 PM
Desert Dancer 13 Sep 11 - 12:36 PM
Amergin 13 Sep 11 - 12:40 PM
Desert Dancer 13 Sep 11 - 12:40 PM
Newport Boy 13 Sep 11 - 12:59 PM
The Sandman 13 Sep 11 - 01:34 PM
The Sandman 13 Sep 11 - 01:39 PM
frogprince 13 Sep 11 - 02:05 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 13 Sep 11 - 02:16 PM
Bev and Jerry 13 Sep 11 - 06:11 PM
Bill D 13 Sep 11 - 07:35 PM
Charley Noble 13 Sep 11 - 08:00 PM
Desert Dancer 13 Sep 11 - 08:42 PM
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katlaughing 13 Sep 11 - 11:31 PM
Desert Dancer 14 Sep 11 - 10:48 PM
Janie 14 Sep 11 - 11:43 PM
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Subject: Obit: Wade Mainer
From: Cool Beans
Date: 13 Sep 11 - 12:18 PM

Reliable source reports the death of banjo pioneer Wade Mainer at age 104.


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Subject: Obit: Wade Mainer, 103 (1907-1911)
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 13 Sep 11 - 12:35 PM

The Southern Folklife Collection reports via Facebook that (real) country music legend Wade Mainer has passed away at 103.

They offered this YouTube link as an example: David Holt: Julia and Wade Mainer songs & banjo tricks.

There are also a series of videos of David Holt interviewing Wade about his life and innovative two finger banjo style: David Holt Interview: Pt 1 Wade Mainer on Banjo, for a start.

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Obit: Wade Mainer
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 13 Sep 11 - 12:36 PM

(Sorry, cross posted - will contact Joe.)
    Cool Beans may have gotten the scoop, Becky, but your post had some great information. Those David Holt videos are terrific. The threads were combined.
    -Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Obit: Wade Mainer, 103 (1907-1911)
From: Amergin
Date: 13 Sep 11 - 12:40 PM

From 1907 to 1911?


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Subject: RE: Obit: Wade Mainer, 103 (1907-1911)
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 13 Sep 11 - 12:40 PM

Sorry, should be 104.

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Obit: Wade Mainer, 103 (1907-1911)
From: Newport Boy
Date: 13 Sep 11 - 12:59 PM

I think it's the century, not the year, Becky.

Phil


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Subject: RE: Obit: Wade Mainer
From: The Sandman
Date: 13 Sep 11 - 01:34 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kkexeI2N6YA


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Subject: RE: Obit: Wade Mainer
From: The Sandman
Date: 13 Sep 11 - 01:39 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ItmMVkEzs4E&feature=related


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Subject: RE: Obit: Wade Mainer
From: frogprince
Date: 13 Sep 11 - 02:05 PM

Mainer had been living somewhere around Flint, MI., a few miles from us. The Flint paper would report on his birthday parties; he was, at least very recently, good for picking a few numbers on at least those occasions. If I recall correctly, his wife was also still alive not long ago.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Wade Mainer, 103 (1907-1911)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 13 Sep 11 - 02:16 PM

Elfs, please correct to 2011.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Wade Mainer
From: Bev and Jerry
Date: 13 Sep 11 - 06:11 PM

About 25 or 30 years ago we had the high honor of performing in a concert which included Wade and Julia Mainer. It was at The San Diego Folk Festival on the big stage in a night devoted to country music which included, among others, Patsy Montana and Ray and Ina Patterson. Wade did some of his trick banjo playing which you can see at the end of the second link that Desert Dancer posted above and it brought the house down.

It was one of our first experiences in front of a big audience of more than a thousand. Jerry was singing a verse solo and he forgot the words but he deftly made some up that fit the rhythm and we managed to carry it off. When we got off stage, Wade Mainer approached us and said that we had done a verse to that song that he had never heard before. Jerry replied that we did a verse that we had never heard before, either.

At the time, we thought Wade was really old and were amazed that he was still performing. Now we are about the same age as he was then and it doesn't seem so old!

Bev and Jerry


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Subject: RE: Obit: Wade Mainer
From: Bill D
Date: 13 Sep 11 - 07:35 PM

I saw Wade & Julia at the Smithsonian Festival maybe 10? years ago.... they were in fine form...I have a couple of LPs of them... They sure packed a lot into life!


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Subject: RE: Obit: Wade Mainer (1907-2011)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 13 Sep 11 - 08:00 PM

Lord, and I was thinking that Wade Mainer must have died twenty years ago.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Obit: Wade Mainer (1907-2011)
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 13 Sep 11 - 08:42 PM

Oh, man. I was suffering a bout of temporary numerical insanity or something this morning.

Wade and Julia came to Tucson some 20 years ago. That would be in in the last century...

What wonderful folks.

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Obit: Wade Mainer (1907-2011)
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 13 Sep 11 - 08:51 PM

Paul Brown has done a story that will be on NPR's Morning Edition tomorrow. Check on the web link for audio tomorrow, and for pics and video today.

Country Music Pioneer Wade Mainer Dies At 104

There might be no bluegrass music as we know it without Wade Mainer, who died Monday at his home in Flint, Mich., Sept. 12 at age 104.

Here's what this amiable North Carolina native did in the 1930s that set the stage for Bill Monroe, Earl Scruggs and their hot new brand of mountain music:

    He brought the banjo to the front of the band as a lead instrument instead of using it only as a backup rhythm instrument.
    He played his banjo with finger picks, for a sharp, tough sound that Scruggs developed further and popularized after WWII.
    He sang with his bandmates in tight, beautifully arranged harmonies similar to what bluegrass bands would use in the 1940s and 1950s.
    He included lots of gospel music in his performances.

Music scholar and collector Dick Spottswood says, without these innovations, he thinks Bill Monroe wouldn't have had much to build on to create bluegrass. Musician David Holt tells me Mainer also influenced a later generation of professionals — including Holt himself — who started performing in the '60s and '70s. Holt knew Mainer well. He says Mainer was a positive, generous person who also demonstrated how to be a super entertainer, flipping his banjo onto his back, playing it behind his neck, but always playing it skillfully.

I interviewed Wade and his wife Julia in 1990 at a banjo players' gathering in Tennessee. They were two of the most charming, centered, kind people I've ever encountered. Wade recalled "chuckling along the highway" in 1934, in a T-Model Ford, to the first-ever radio job for the band he and his brother J.E. had started. It was called Mainer's Mountaineers. Julia is a magnificent singer who recalled her own days on the radio in Winston-Salem, N.C. when she was a teenager. Before Wade died, she and I spoke briefly on the phone. Did she concentrate on her own coming misfortune? Not a bit. She chatted about music, and about Wade. She expressed thanks to me and the other journalists and musicians who'd called for being interested. In other words, as she had done before, she inspired. Wade would no doubt have liked that.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Wade Mainer (1907-2011)
From: katlaughing
Date: 13 Sep 11 - 11:31 PM

Thanks for all of the links. I've once again learned a lot on Mudcat. I esp. liked another video I found of him and Julia doing Ring On My Finger, a really touching song.

Also enjoyed hearing Wade's version of Worried Man's Blues.

What a wonderful person to have contributed so much and obviously enjoying it all along the way and for so long.

kat


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Subject: RE: Obit: Wade Mainer (1907-2011)
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 14 Sep 11 - 10:48 PM

refresh


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Subject: RE: Obit: Wade Mainer (1907-2011)
From: Janie
Date: 14 Sep 11 - 11:43 PM

Listened to the NPR piece this morning on the way to work, and just yesterday (day before?) listened to the NPR tribute to Bill Monroe-a somewhat delayed tribute on the 100th anniversary of his birth.

The members of this community who have much interest in Appalachian old-time string bands (and even old-time bluegrass) is fairly limited, but those of us who are interested know how important these folks were in keeping Appalachian and southern traditional music alive long enough for the "folk revival" to discover them. Many folkies have also been very slow to appreciate what an American melting pot this music represents. Arising mainly in the southland, drawing from African and Anglo traditions for the most part, this music is as American in origin as jazz or the blues.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Wade Mainer (1907-2011)
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 15 Sep 11 - 10:43 AM

The New York Times has an obituary today:

Wade Mainer, a Pioneer of Bluegrass Banjo, Dies at 104
By WILLIAM GRIMES
September 15, 2011

Wade Mainer, a singer and banjo player whose clean, emphatic style and devotion to old-time mountain songs made him a pivotal figure in the transition to bluegrass music, died on Monday at his home in Flint, Mich. Mr. Mainer, who once performed at the White House for President Franklin D. Roosevelt, was 104.

His death was confirmed by his son Randall.

Mr. Mainer began recording in the early 1930s with J. E. Mainer and the Mountaineers, led by his older brother, a fiddle player. He introduced a distinctive two-finger style, with the thumb moving downward and the forefinger moving upward, that contrasted with the traditional downward-moving clawhammer stroke. This style gave a modern flavor to traditional tunes and inspired younger players like Don Reno and Earl Scruggs.

In the late 1930s Mr. Mainer formed his own group, the Sons of the Mountaineers, which recorded dozens of songs on RCA Victor's Bluebird label.

"Wade brought the music forward," said Dick Spottswood, the author of "Banjo on the Mountain: Wade Mainer's First Hundred Years" (2010). "In the 1920s, the banjo stayed in the background, providing counterpoint and rhythm. He made it prominent, and laid the groundwork for bluegrass in the 1940s."

Wade Eckhart Mainer, whose middle name was spelled several ways, was born on April 21, 1907, near Weaverville, N.C. As a boy he picked up the banjos that performers would lay down during their breaks at dances and taught himself to play.

Initially he used the clawhammer technique, but he soon devised a two-finger style using finger picks. "I just picked the string and something hit my ear when I did it like that, and I said, 'That sounds a little better,' " he recalled in an interview with the musician and storyteller David Holt.

After joining his brother at a cotton mill in Concord, the two began performing for fellow workers and at local events like corn shuckings. In 1932 they began playing on the radio station WSOC in Gastonia, N.C.; after moving up to WBT in Charlotte two years later, they formed J. E. Mainer and the Mountaineers.

The group toured extensively and came to the attention of Bluebird. Wade Mainer recorded more than a dozen songs for that label with the group, including the hit "Maple on the Hill."

In 1936 he left the Mountaineers and began recording for Bluebird with Zeke Morris, another former Mountaineer. In 1937 he formed his own group, the Smilin' Rangers, which evolved into the Sons of the Mountaineers. In all, he recorded more than 150 songs for Bluebird with various groups, including the 1939 hit "Sparkling Blue Eyes."

Around that time he was invited to perform at the Grand Ole Opry, but was prevented by his contract. In 1941 the folklorist John A. Lomax included Mr. Mainer's recordings of "John Henry," "Down in the Willow Garden," "On a Cold Winter's Night (The Wreck of Number Nine)" and "Riding on That Train 45" on the RCA album "Smoky Mountain Ballads," an important recording that introduced Northern audiences to music by Mr. Mainer, Uncle Dave Macon, the Monroe Brothers, the Dixon Brothers and the Carter Family.

That year Mr. Lomax's son, Alan, and Archibald MacLeish, the librarian of Congress, arranged for the Sons of the Mountaineers to perform at the White House with Josh White and Burl Ives as part of a postdinner event titled "An Evening of American Song for American Soldiers."

Refreshments were part of the program, unfortunately for Mr. Mainer. He was standing near a swinging door in the East Room when Eleanor Roosevelt entered abruptly, causing him to spill a dish of ice cream over her dress.

"So I run my hand down in my pocket and pulled out a big old red bandana handkerchief," Mr. Mainer told Mr. Spottswood. "I was going to wipe the ice cream off of her. She said, 'No, you just forget about that.' She disappeared for a few minutes and directly she came back, she had on a different dress and everything. The concert went on and it was a very lovely evening we had down there with them at the White House."

In 1937 Mr. Mainer married Julia Mae Brown, a singer and guitarist who performed as Hillbilly Lillie. She survives him. In addition to his son Randall, of Grand Blanc, Mich., he is also survived by his sons Frank, of Mocksville, N.C., and Kelly, of Flint; a daughter, Polly Hofmeister of Rochester Hills, Mich.; two grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. J. E. Mainer died in 1971.

In 1953 Mr. Mainer went to work at a General Motors plant in Flint and, rededicating himself to his Christian faith, put aside the banjo. At the urging of the singer Molly O'Day, who had undergone a similar conversion, he returned to the banjo in the early 1960s and, recasting himself as a gospel singer, recorded several religious albums.

He finally made his debut at the Grand Ole Opry in July 2002, at the age of 95, performing "Maple on the Hill" and "Take Me in the Lifeboat."

(final emphasis mine -- DD)


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Subject: RE: Obit: Wade Mainer (1907-2011)
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 15 Sep 11 - 06:49 PM

Here's the page for WUNC's program they did on Wade's birthday in April: The Music of Wade Mainer. "Host Frank Stasio celebrates Mainer's life and legacy with Dick Spottswood, author of "Banjo on the Mountain: Wade Mainer's First Hundred Years" (University of Mississippi Press/2010); Sarah Bryan, editor of the Old Time Herald and program manager at the North Carolina Folklife Institute; and David Holt, a musician, historian and long-time friend of Mainer." (Thanks for the tip from the American Folklife Center on Facebook.)

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Obit: Wade Mainer (1907-2011)
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 16 Sep 11 - 01:28 PM

SFC Spotlight: Wade Mainer (Southern Folklife Collection, University of North Carolina)

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Obit: Wade Mainer (1907-2011)
From: open mike
Date: 16 Sep 11 - 04:09 PM

Here is a link I posted earlier in this thread:
http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=140270


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