Personalities | J.E. Mainer & His Mountaineers | Early Years of Hillbilly | Country

(Vocal/instrumental group, 1930s)

In 1934 Joseph E. Mainer (1898–1971) and his brother Wade (b. 1907), playing fiddle and banjo respectively, secured a slot on WBT in Charlotte, North Carolina. The group they assembled – adding singer-guitarists Daddy John Love and Zeke Morris – was an immediate hit, not only on radio but also on Bluebird Records with numbers like ‘Maple On The Hill’. They were essentially a country variety act in the tradition of the minstrel- or medicine-show, a character maintained by successive line-ups as they dispensed old-time comic numbers, gospel selections and heart songs in the ‘brother duet’ manner. Wade and Zeke Morris left in 1936 to form their own band, eventually called The Sons Of The Mountaineers. The Mainers’ music was an important precursor of bluegrass, several of J. E.’s numbers turning up in the repertoire of The Stanley Brothers. J. E. continued to record into the 1960s; Wade was still making occasional appearances 30 years later.

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Source: The Definitive Illustrated Encyclopedia of Country Music, consultant editor Bob Allen


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