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J.E. MAINER amp; THE MOUNTAINEERS THE GOSPEL WAY
North Carolina produced many legendary country music artists. Some of the most notable were the Blue Sky Boys, Charlie Poole, the Morris Brothers, Snuffy Jenkins, and the Mainer Brothers, J.E. an Wade. All these individuals and groups helped provide a foundation for country and bluegrass music as we know it today. The Mainers were historically significant mostly because Wade played a style of banjo which sounded very much like the hard-driving, three finger style which was to come later in bluegrass. As a result of their band s sound, some have said J.E. Mainer s Mountaineers was actually one of the first bands to play bluegrass, though Wade admits that bluegrass was uptown, faster and higher pitched.
Joseph Emmett and Wade Mainer formed their first band together about 1934 and called it Mainer Mountaineers String Band. Influenced by the string band sound of Gid Tanner and the Skillet Lickers and others, their music was meant for dancing. Wade s banjo style, at first, was frailing but he soon figured out that his new, innovative two-finger style was better for picking out the melody. Pioneer bluegrass banjoist Ralph Stanley later learned this style from Wade and used it until he began using the three-finger style which better fit into his bluegrass band. Wade knew that Bill Monroe was going over big in Nashville on the Grand Ole Opry (after 1939) but they had no intention of sounding like Monroe. They only wanted to play, enjoy their music, and make a decent living from it. With Crazy Water Crystals (a cathartic medicine) as their sponsor, they did fairly well for a band which had its beginnings in the Great Depression.
J.E. and Wade split up in 1936. J.E. kept J.E. Mainer s Mountaineers and Wade soon formed his Sons of the Mountaineers. J.E. continued performing through the years. J.E. work for Rural Rhythm on each of the twenty recordings he made for the label usually included the same personnel. They included himself (vocals, fiddle), Morris Herbert (vocals, banjo), Bill Deaton (guitar), Danny Milhon (Dobro), Earl Cheek (Bass), Jerry Cheek (washboard) and Peggy Peterson (Dobro).
This Recording issued in 1972, the year after J.E. s death on June 12, 1971, is a compilation of tunes recorded through the many years during which Mr. Mainer recorded for Rural Rhythm. Many of the tunes on this recording are exactly like J.E. played and sang them back in the 1930 s. Others include the smooth singing of Morris Herbert and his modern bluegrass banjo which contribute a distinctively different feel to J.E. s music. J.E. wasn t afraid to change his music with the times. He and his music remained in demand through the years due to a keen sense of knowing that no matter what his age and how long ago was his heyday, his music and still the real thing and therefore in constant demand. As listeners, we can be grateful to all the folks who had the foresight to record this music originally, and those who released it on the more modern forma: the compact disc.
Barry R. Willis (1998)