Martha Spencer and the Whitetop Mountain Band
Saturday, October 19, 2019
World-renowned Appalachian Mountain Music and Dance
Martha Spencer is a singer-songwriter, mountain musician and dancer from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia...the same cultural crucible that brought the world Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, The Louvin Brothers, Ralph Stanley, Johnny Cash, and so many more icons of American roots music. She grew up in the musical Spencer family and learned to play several instruments (guitar, fiddle, banjo, bass, dulcimer, mandolin) and to flatfoot/clog at a young age. She performs and has recorded with various groups and has been involved with several roots music projects. Released last year, her well-acclaimed solo album has been featured in articles in Rolling Stone Country, Cowboys & Indians Magazine, Americana Highways, PopMatters, and more.
The Whitetop Mountain Band is a family-based group hailing from the highest mountains of southwest Virginia. Founded by the late Albert Hash and Spencer family, the band has roots that lead back to the 1940's. The band was led by Thornton and Emily Spencer for many years until Thornton's passing in late 2016.
Steeped in the mountain music traditions of southwestern Virginia and a mainstay of the Appalachian dance scene, they frequently play local venues such as the Carter Family Fold. But the band has also traveled extensively, performing at venues, festivals and workshops across the US, Australia, the UK, Europe and Canada (National Folk Festival, Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Merlefest, World Music Institute). Their shows reflect a variety of mountain music traditions mixed with old country, original material, and high energy flatfoot dancing. The Whitetop Mountain Band has been included in several books, magazines, and documentaries, and they've also released several albums through the years.
The current lineup includes Emily Spencer on clawhammer banjo and vocals, and her children -- Martha Spencer on guitar, fiddle, vocals, and dance, and Kilby Spencer on fiddle. The band is rounded out by Debbie Bramer on bass, dance and vocals, Ersel Fletcher on guitar and vocals, and Frank Rische on mandolin, guitar and vocals.