J.E. Mainer, born in Buncombe County in 1898 and went on to lead “J.E. Mainer’s Mountaineers,” one of the leading Appalachian string bands during the 1930s. Growing up in the western part of the state, J.E. Mainer worked in the cotton mills and played the fiddle; during the early 1920s he settled in Concord NC and formed a band. In 1932 he was on WBT in Charlotte.
By the mid-1930s “J.E. Mainer’s Mountaineers” was comprised of Mainer on fiddle, his brother Wade on banjo, and Zeke Morris and John Love on guitars. During the 1930s the band split and Mainer hired Snuffy Jenkins, George Morris and Leonard Stokes.
J.E. Mainer worked for a number of radio stations during his career and recorded for Bluebird, a division of RCA until 1939. After World War II, Mainer’s group recorded for King Records in Cincinnati. During the urban folk revival of the late 1960s and early 1970s there was a renewed interest in Mainer and his music, which led to him performing at numerous festivals and recording for the labels King, Arhoolie, Blue Jay and Rural Rhythm.
J.E. Mainer was still actively performing at the time of his death on June 12, 1971.