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"Banjo on the Mountain: Wade Mainers First 100 Years by Dick Spottswood MAINER BOOK


(Univ. of Mississippi Press, 2010, 134 pages, softbound). Noted musicologist, reviewer and radio host Dick Spottswood has done a nice job in putting together this tribute to an important rural musician from North Carolina who amazingly was still performing at the age of 100! From a musical family that included his brother J.E., Wade made dozens of recordings over the years for Bluebird, King, Old Homestead and others, from the mid 1930s to the present. His 2-finger style of banjo playing, his repertoire, and his band sound became a transitional link between the old-time music of the 1920s and the sounds of early Bluegrass in the late 1940s and early 50s. Spottswood covers his long career nicely, and the book is very well illustrated with a huge number of photos and mementos. There is also an essay on Wade's banjo style written by Stephen Wade, and an extensive discography. The latter appears to be accurate as far as the Bluebird and King label recordings go, although the fine 2-CD King re-issue (GT-0957, I'M NOT TURNING BACKWARD, $ 15.00) is not noted. (Nor are the two recent 4-CD anthologies on the British JSP label). However there is a serious weakness in the presentation of the more than dozen records that appeared on John Morris' Old Homestead label a page or two of description and explanation here would have been most welcome, because it is hard to tell which albums were new material and which were re-issues, as well as what was the reason that some records appeared on the label's 70000 series, others on the 90000 series. Why are song titles presented for OH-90168 but not for the other Old Homestead discs? And the book does seem a bit pricey at a list price of $ 30.00. Apart from these minor shortcomings this is an informative and welcome book that fans of Mainer's Mountaineers will enjoy.