J.E. MAINER'S MOUNTAINEERS King Recordings 1946-1961

Saturday, March 26, 2016

More great Mainer music is presented in this post which features the recordings J.E. and his Mountaineers made for the King label during three sessions in 1946 and a later session in 1961. The bulk of the 1946 recordings, first released as 78 rpm singles, were collected on the 1959 LP "Good Ole' Mountain Music" (King 666) while the 1961 outing resulted in "A Variety Album" (King 765). Both the 1946 and 1961 sessions heavily featured J.E.'s son, Glen Mainer on vocals and banjo.
Both albums are included here with bonus tracks from the respective sessions. From the final 1946 session in October of that year, "Walking For The Lord" and "Before Judgement Day" were issued as a single on King 851, and both were later included on Audio Lab country gospel compilations. "If I Could Hear My Mother Pray Again" is the only issued track from the 1946 sessions not included here, apparently it was only released on a very rare Audio Lab LP (AL-1557) >>> THANKS TO THE ATTIC'S FRIEND ROUNDER, THIS TRACK IS NOW INCLUDED AS TRACK 19 OF KING 666 <<<. From the 1961 sessions, "Mainer's Jews Harp" and "Get Away Old Man, Get Away" were issued on 45 as King 45-5522, while "Hard Times In A Cotton Mill" and "I've Take My Fun Where I've Found It" (a bizarre and surreal hillbilly adaptation of the 1922 Rudyard Kipling poem "The Ladies") remained unissued until they were included on a 2011 Mainer compilation.

J.E. Mainer's Mountaineers
"Good Old Mountain Music" King 666


1. What'll I Do With The Baby-O
2. Workin' On A Buildin'
3. John Henry
4. Run Mountain
5. I'm Not Turning Backward
6. The Lonely Train
7. Pale Moonlight
8. Gathering Flowers From The Hillside
9. Shoot The Turkey Buzzard
10. Mother's Only Sleeping
11. Johnson County Blues
12. Big Ball's In Town
13. The Forks Of The Road
14. The Yodelin' Mountaineer
15. I'll Remember You Love In My Prayers
16. Lonely Tombs
17. Walking For The Lord (bonus track)
18. Before Judgement Day (bonus track)
19-If I Could Hear My Mother Pray Again (bonus track)

*download here*

J.E. Mainer And His Mountaineers
"A Variety Album" King 765


1. Mainer's Breakdown
2. Echos
3. Ticklish David
4. Glen's Chimes
5. Johnson's Old Grey Mule
6. Country Breakdown
7. Nobody's Business
8. Old Number Nine
9. Pretty Moon
10. Little Adobe Shack
11. I'll Be True To The One I Love
12. Forty Years Ago
13. Don't Tease Me This Way
14. Tears At The Altar
15. Take Hold Of My Hand
16. I Can Hear My Mother Praying
17. Hard Times In A Cotton Mill (bonus track)
18. I've Take My Fun Where I've Found It (bonus track)
19. Mainer's Jews Harp (bonus track)
20. Get Away Old Man, Get Away (bonus track)

*download here*


Saturday, March 19, 2016

While rummaging through a box of cassettes I've hung onto through the years, I ran across a tape that brought me a pang of nostalgia. It was a Maxell XL II-S 100 onto which I had taped both sides of 18 of my favourites of the Buff Bluebird 78s I had at that point managed to latch onto. I taped them about fifteen years ago, before computers had entered my life to any real extent, when with the exception of a few CDs that I enjoyed, the majority of my music consumption was an analog affair. At that time I was living between the family farmhouse outside Chatham and an apartment in the west end of Windsor, Ontario, where I was regularly playing the bars, or anywhere that would let me bombard patrons with my repertoire of old time, western swing, country, jazz, blues, or anything else I could figure out by listening to the hoard of old records I had gathered. I would often tape material from old records to either play in my truck, trade with other collectors, or to hand out at my shows to both proselytize the music and make people remember the weirdo who gave them a tape and perhaps come out and see me again!
I made these tapes directly without any processing, although I did learn that running the signal back to mono on 78s (or mono LPs) made the results sound MUCH quieter (a concept that many in the digital age seem to unfortunately have not yet embraced). For 78's I used a BSR changer with a ceramic cart run through an unnamed 50s vintage mono tube preamp, and despite the humbleness of the setup, the results stand up fairly well today. Therefore I have transferred the cassette as is, applying only a slight bit of noise reduction to the tape hiss, but in no way have I declicked or denoised the actual 78 signal. Looking back, I really was living a charmed life, able to spend countless free hours lounging around a country house, listening to 78s long into the night, smoking a pipe with my feet up, and learning the material off them to play to appreciative crowds in some of the last of Southwestern Ontario's old school smoky dives...

The music:

Some of the performers here are well-known, some not, and some of these tracks are widely available on legit reissues while some seem not to have circulated in digital form. A few notes about the artists and the tunes follow, with more detail given for more obscure performers.

Jesse Rodgers: Jesse was Jimmie Rodgers' first cousin and was groomed as his successor in the years following the "Yodeling Brakeman's" death. He sort of sounds like a much "croonery" version of his famous cousin. Biography here.

Fred Kirby: Kirby was a veteran country singer and children's TV host who is best remembered for his 1945 topical song "Atomic Power". "My Heavenly Sweetheart" is fairly typical sentimental fare, while "My Man" is anything but. While it was not entirely strange for singers on old recordings to sing from the perspective of the opposite sex (Sara Carter often did), I can't help but think this song may have been recorded with the intention of eliciting a few snickers around the jukebox. Biography here.

Blue Sky Boys: "The Dying Boy's Prayer" is also known by its first line "Companions Draw Nigh".

Bill Boyd and His Cowboy Ramblers: I use the term "hillbilly" loosely to describe this collection, it includes a range of rural North American styles popular during the depression from old time ballads and fiddle tunes to cowboy songs and western swing.

Jimmie Revard and His Oklahoma Playboys: More great early western swing. Biography here.

McClendon Brothers with Georgia Dell: From "Linthead Stomp: The Creation of Country Music in the Piedmont South" by Patrick Huber (2008):

Ralph Rupert McClendon (1907-76). Native of Alabama (probably born in Randolph County); husband of Adelle Bassett (who performed under the name Georgia Dell); worked as a weaver in a LaGrange, Georgia, textile mill, along with his father and several of his siblings; fiddler and singer for the McClendon Brothers with Georgia Dell, which recorded a total of nineteen selections at RCA-Victor field sessions in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Rock Hill, South Carolina, between 1936 and 1938.

From "Country Music Records : A Discography, 1921-1942" by Tony Russell (2004):


McClendon Brothers With Georgia Dell: Rupert McClendon; prob. Buster McClendon. g; Georgia Dell, v-3.
Charlotte, NC
Sunday, October 11, 1936

02507-1 The Story Of Love Divine -3 BB B-6740
02509-1 Gamblin’ On The Sabbath -3 BB B-6740

Monroe Brothers: Credited on the label as "Charles and Bill" (!).

Rambling Rangers: From "Country Music Records : A Discography, 1921-1942" by Tony Russell (2004):


Curtis Streets, Edward Conway, Norwood Conway, v trio; acc. prob. one of them, g.
Charlotte, NC
Thursday, February 18, 1937

07141-1 Wyoming For Me BB B-6914, MW M-7366
07142-i Memory Lane BB 8-6914, MW M-7366

Delmore Brothers: "No One" is a Delmore original that seems reminiscent of Albert E. Brumley's "Rank Strangers".

Jordan Brothers: From "Country Music Records : A Discography, 1921-1942" by Tony Russell (2004):


Thomas Jordan, md/v; ChalmersJordan, g/v; Hershel Jordan, g/v
Charlotte, NC
Monday, August 2, 1937

011837-1 Georgia Mountain Home BB B-7123
011838-1 Goin’ Back Home BB B-7235
011839-1 When We Put On An Old Pair Of Shoes BB B-7235
011841-1 An Answer To Birmingham Jail BB B-7123, MW M-7655

To my ears, the Jordan Brothers sound highly influenced by the Callahan Brothers.

Arthur Smith Trio: The Arthur Smith Trio was of course Fiddlin' Arthur Smith accompanied by Alton and Rabon Delmore. A pairing of fiddle tunes and a pair of sides with vocals are included here.

J.E. Mainer's Mountaineers: Two spiritual sides, one a departed mother adaptation of "Lamplighting Time In The Valley". Although not credited on the label, the vocal on "Lamp Lighting Time In Heaven" is by Leonard Stokes, while "I'm Living The Right Life Now" (later popularized by Molly O'Day) is a vocal duet by Leonard Stokes and George Morris.

Bob Hartsell: From "Country Music Records : A Discography, 1921-1942" by Tony Russell (2004):


Bob Hartsell v/y acc. unknown md-1; unknown g.
Charlotte, NC

Monday, February 15, 1937
07005-1 I’m A Handsome Man -1 BB B-7439, MW M-7169
07006-1 Rambling Freight Train Yodel BB B-7439, MW M-7169

Bob Hartsell also recorded as a member of The Three Tobacco Tags on two 1938 sessions.

The Rambling Duet: In addition to the many recordings by the Dixon Brothers, Howard Dixon cut several sides with Frank Gerald, a fellow East Rockingham, N.C. mill worker.

The last four selections were releases on Bluebird's Canadian line, recorded in Montreal.

Smiling Dick: Little seems to know about "Smiling Dick, The Saskatchewan Roamer". The present disc is the first of his four 78s released on Bluebird, all in 1936. In "Cogitations II" by Victor P. Epp (2005) a chapter written by the author's father, Peter W. Epp (1887-1983) recounts his early life in rural Saskatchewan and contains following passage:

"In the spring of 1913 the Funks bought a farm in the Gouldtown district, where the Bengt Rosetts later lived. That is where Dick Funk or Smiling Dick the Saskatchewan Roamer grew up. As a young man he sang, yodeled and played his guitar over a radio station in Saskatoon, and later in Calgary. This was during the hungry thirties."

The text also recounts that the elder Epp married into the Funk family.

Tex Cochrane: Nova Scotian Tex Cochrane made sides issued on Bluebird in late 1930s at the time when the label's output was dominated by Wilf Carter and Hank "The Yodeling Ranger" Snow. Biography here.


 1. Be Nobody's Darling But Mine (A)
 2. (In A Little Shanty) Hummin' To My Honey (B)
    Jesse Rodgers, Singing With Guitar (B-6066) 1935
 3. My Man (A)
 4. My Heavenly Sweetheart (B)
    Fred Kirby, Singing and Yodeling With Guitar (B-6597) 1936
 5. The Dying Boy's Prayer (A)
 6. I'm Just Here To Get My Baby Out Of Jail (B)
    Blue Sky Boys (Bill And Earl Bolick), Singing With Mandolin And Guitar (B-6621) 1936
 7. An Old Water Mill By A Waterfall - Fox Trot (A)
 8. Show Me The Way To Go Home - Fox Trot (B)
    Bill Boyd and His Cowboy Ramblers, With Singing (B-6715) 1936
 9. Ride 'Em Cowboy - Fox Trot (A)
10. Triflin' Gal - Fox Trot (B)
    Jimmie Revard and His Oklahoma Playboys, Singing By Eddie Whiteby (B-6739) 1936
11. The Story Of Love Divine (A)
12. Gamblin' On The Sabbath (B)
    McClendon Brothers with Georgia Dell, Singing With Guitar (B-6740) 1936
13. I Am Thinking Tonight Of The Old Folks (A)
14. Roll In My Sweet Baby's Arms (B)
    Monroe Brothers (Charles and Bill), Singing With Guitar And Mandolin (B-6773) 1936
15. Wyoming For Me (A)
16. Memory Lane (B)
    Rambling Rangers (Curtis Streets, Edward and Norwood Conway), Singing With Guitar (B-6914) 1937
17. Take Away This Lonesome Day (A)
18. No One (B)
    Delmore Brothers (Alton And Rabon), Singing With Guitars (B-6998) 1937
19. An Answer To Birmingham Jail (A)
20. Georgia Mountain Home (B)
    Jordan Brothers (Thomas, Chalmers and Hershel), Singing With Mandolin And Guitars (B-7123) 1937
21. Beautiful Mabel Clare (A)
22. Beautiful Memories (B)
    Arthur Smith Trio, Singing With Violin And Guitars (B-7203) 1937
23. Goin' Back Home (A)
24. When We Put On An Old Pair Of Shoes (B)
    Jordan Brothers (Thomas, Chalmers and Hershel), Singing With Mandolin And Guitars (B-7235) 1937
25. Lamp Lighting Time In Heaven (A)
26. I'm Living The Right Life Now (B)
    J.E. Mainer's Mountaineers, Singing With Mandolin And Guitar (B-7412) 1938
27. I'm A Handsome Man (A)
28. Rambling Freight Train Yodel (B)
    Bob Hartsell, Singing With Yodelling And Guitar (B-7439) rec. 1937, rel. 1938
29. Indian Creek (A)
30. Smith's Breakdown (B)
    Arthur Smith Trio, Violin And Guitars (B-7511) rec. 1937, rel. 1938
31. Prisoner's Plea (A)
32. There's A Place In My Home For Mother (B)
    The Rambling Duet (Frank Gerald and Howard Dixon), Singing With Guitars (B-7574) 1938
33. I Long For The Old Home Again (A)
34. The Girl Who Played Injun With Me (B)
    Smiling Dick ("The Saskatchewan Roamer"), Singing And Yodeling With Guitar (B-4609) 1936
35. Goin' Home In The Twilight (A)
36. I Miss You Dear Old Dad (B)
    Tex Cochrane "The Yodeling Trail Rider", Singing With Guitar (B-4638) 1938

*download here*

WADE MAINER Live For Collectors

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Another post today in celebration of of the legendary Mainer family, this time centered on the career of brother Wade and his Sons of the Mountaineers. Twelve years back, I had the pleasure of attending Mr. Mainer's 97th birthday celebration/concert in Fenton, Michigan. Wade had lived in the area (namely, in Flint) since the early 50's. He would go on to live unto the ripe old age of 104, and I have to say, when I saw him perform he was still robust, and sang with the voice that was so recognizable from his many recordings in the 78 era of classic southern string band music.
This post is drawn from two cassettes I purchased at that concert, both late offerings of the now apparently defunct Old Homestead label. The first of these is titled "Live For Collectors" and is a true gem, consisting of live recordings from the late 60's and early 70's of Wade and his original band mates from the classic era, including his brother J.E., Zeke and Wiley Morris, and Steve Ledford. It is truly amazing to hear these legends re-create their depression-era string band classics, and it's hard for me to believe these recordings haven't been circulated more. The final track is an "interview" with Wade, or at least a somewhat loose conversation, conducted by Old Homestead's John Morris at Virgil Shouse's (another veteran Old Homestead alumni) studio. Although perhaps a novel idea, this recording gives so much of an idea of the late Mainer's great character, a character of which everyone in attendance at the birthday celebration I attended had no doubt, that I believe it to be the perfect souvenir of the occasion.
I have also included in this post a cassette only release, "Carolina Mule", also recorded at Shouse Studio in October of 1992 when Wade was in his 85th year. I believe this to have been his last regular album release, and it finds him and his late wife Julia in fine form, much the way I remember them in Fenton. I hope all followers of the Attic will appreciate these rare recordings by true legends of American old time music!

Wade Mainer - Live For Collectors - With The Original Mainer's Mountaineers


1. Gonna Lay Down My Old Guitar
2. Buckin' Mule
3. Little Birdie
4. On Top Of Old Smokey
5. Train 45
6. Concord Rag
7. Cacklin' Hen
8. A Beautiful Life
9. Going Down The Road Feeling Bad
10. Lonely Tombs
11. Going Down Town
12. Buckin' Mule
13. Rose Conlee
14. The Train That Took My Girl From Town
15. Poor Drunkard's Dream
16. Gone, Gone, Gone
17. Tricklin' Waters
18. Big Eyed Rabbit
19. Live interview with Wade Mainer

*download here*

Wade Mainer - Carolina Mule


1. There'll Come A Time
2. Ring On Your Hand
3. When The Train Comes Along
4. When It's Lamplighting Time
5. Baby Jo
6. Run Mountain (Sugar In The Hill)
7. Gonna Lay Down My Old Banjo
8. Carolina Mule
9. On Old Jordans Side
10. The Cat Came Back
11. Sally Ann
12. Quit Kickin My Dog Around

*download here*

J.E. MAINER And His MOUNTAINEERS 70th Happy Birthday Album

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Brothers J.E. and Wade Mainer, in all their incarnations both together and apart, have always been among my very favourite performers of the old time music of the American south. This homey production on the Blue Jay label was produced in celebration of J.E. Mainer's 70th birthday on July 20, 1968. Present is A.P. and Sarah's daughter, Janette Carter, making this quite the summit of old time royalty! Because each side is a continuous program, both are presented here as a single mp3 file. Below are notes from the original LP:

J. E. Mainer was born in a one-room log cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains. He has played on 199 radio stations, and appeared in person all over the South, and is one of the best-known exponents of true mountain music. His fame has spread all over the world wherever grass-roots music is enjoyed. Not only have simple folk enjoyed his music, but he has hob-nobbed with celebrities and public figures such as the late President Franklin D. Roosevelt. He has made hundreds of records, many of which are now collector’s items. His main interest these days is the making of fiddles in his shop, which he sells for $25 to $150. J. E. Mainer was the first to sign a recording contract with BLUE JAY RECORDS, and we are truly happy to have one of the greatest artists of all time with us. Janette Carter, who is now recording with BLUE JAY RECORDS, is also on this album as guest artist. She is the youngest daughter of A. P. and SARAH of the original CARTER FAMILY. She was featured on many of the CARTER FAMILY releases. She plays the autoharp and sings all the CARTER FAMILY songs that have also become collector’s items. BLUE JAY RECORDS considers it an honor to number J. E. MAINER and JANETTE CARTER among our fine artists. We hope this and our other fine recordings bring you hours of listening pleasure. The J. E. Mainer birthday celebration is an annual event with everyone invited to come and bring a picnic lunch. For more information, write to BLUE JAY RECORDS.
E. P. Williams, Owner


1. J.E. Mainer And His Mountaineers-70th Happy Birthday Album-Side 1
Theme, Leather Britches, Storms Are On The Ocean, Diamonds In The Rough, Pig In The Pen
2. J.E. Mainer And His Mountaineers-70th Happy Birthday Album-Side 2
Pig In The Pen, Chinese Breakdown, May I Sleep In Your Barn (Tonight Mister), Wildwood Flower, Ground Hog, Soldiers Joy, Down Yonder, Happy Birthday

*download here*


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

GREAT NEWS! The Attic's good friend Mr. Meadowlark has returned and his fantastic blog is once again online. A little bird (aka, a meadowlark...) told me there will be a few posts a week, and we can expect some great music as always. To visit Mr. Meadowlark's Music and Memories click on either the image in this post or the link below: