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The Music of Wade Mainer

Wade Mainer on the banjo

Just about every bluegrass musician has been directly or indirectly influenced by Wade Mainer. Mainer, a master of the banjo, taught himself to play his instrument of choice as a child and developed an innovative two-finger picking style. That style, combined with Mainer’s strong vocals earned him popularity as a performer and recording artist in the 1930s and 1940s. He is credited with bridging the gap between old-time music and bluegrass music and artists like Doc Watson and Bill Monroe have cited Mainer as a major influence. Mainer died earlier this week. He was 104 years old. In April, on Mainer’s birthday, host Frank Stasio honored the musician’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.

This program originally aired on April 21, 2011. For a link to the audio, click here.

Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.
Content Director Lindsay Foster Thomas is a multiplatform journalist and audio storyteller with a background in public radio that began right here at WUNC.