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 turns 104 years old today. Host Frank Stasio celebrates Mainer’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.