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J. E. Mainer (July 20, 1898 - June 12, 1971) was an American old time fiddler
who followed in the wake of Gid Tanner and his Skillet Lickers.
Joseph Emmett Mainer grew up on a farm in the mountains near Weaverville,
North Carolina and learned to play the banjo and fiddle from an early age. Since
Wade, his brother, also was interested in learning to play the banjo, he left that
to Wade and concentrated on the fiddle. Soon, Mainer began performing at local
country barn dances. He found work at a textile mill in Knoxville, Tennessee but
moved to Concord, North Carolina in 1922 for another work in a mill.
Mainer's fame as a fiddler rose and sponsored by the Crazy Water Crystals in
1933, he and his newly formed band consisting of J. E. on fiddle, Wade Mainer
on banjo, and Zeke Morris on guitar, made their radio debut on WBT in
Charlotte, North Carolina calling themselves "J.E.Mainer and his Crazy
Mountaineers." The band appeared on several radio stations in the following
years until 1935, when they received a recording contract on. In August the
same year, the Mountaineers, with the addition of "Daddy" John Love, recorded
for Bluebird Records. Wade Mainer and Zeke Morris temporarily left the band in
the early 1936 to form a duo. In the meantime Ollie Bunn, Howard Bumgardner
and Clarence Todd replaced Wade, Zeke and "Daddy" John Love on the next
recording session. In the summer of 1936, Wade and Zeke returned to record
with "the mountaineers". The next year, in 1937, Wade Mainer formed the "Sons
of the Mountaineers". Shortly, a new change of personnel occurred when
Leonard "Lester" Stokes and George Morris became members of "the
mountaineers" calling themselves "Handsome and Sambo". They added Snuffy
Jenkins on banjo on the following recording session. In late 1938, Stokes and
Morris were once more replaced by Clyde Moody and Jay Hugh Hall. The band
continued to perform on radio stations in both North and South Carolina.
The Mountaineers disbanded at the outbreak of World War II, but Mainer
continued to record in the late 1940s, together with his sons, Glenn and Curly,
for King Records. In the 1970s, after his death, literally hundreds of post-war
recordings were released on Rural Rhythm Records.