The Whitetop Mountain Band is a family-based band from the highest mountains of Virginia. Whitetop, Virginia is an area rich in the old time music tradition; this band has deep roots in mountain music. The members have done much to preserve the Whitetop region’s style of old time fiddling and banjo picking and are legendary musicians and teachers of the style. At the same time, Whitetop Mountain Band shows are very versatile and entertaining containing everything from fiddle/banjo instrumentals to powerful solos and harmony vocals on blues, classic country, honky tonk, traditional bluegrass numbers, old timey ballads, originals, and mountain gospel songs. Shows also include high energy flat foot dancing. The band is well known for their high energy and charisma on stage.
The Whitetop Mountain Band is one of the most popular dance bands of the Appalachian Mountains. They have a great following at square dances all over Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky at venues like the Carter Family Fold. The band has also performed at all sorts of venues throughout the United States from festivals to concerts, competitions, and colleges. The Smithsonian Folklife Festival, National Folklife Festival, World Music Institute in NYC, Carter Family Festival, World Fair, and Merlefest are a few of the many festivals the band has performed at. They were featured on several Crooked Road Tours of the West and East Coast of the USA. The band members have toured overseas in the UK, Ireland, and Australia. WTMB has also taught and been master musicians/dancers for workshops and classes in fiddle, banjo, guitar, vocals, and dance all over the US. Some of these include Swannanoa Gathering in Asheville, NC, Cowan Creek Music School in KY, Mountain Music School in Big Stone Gap, and Mt. Rogers Combined School.
The band currently has recordings on Mountain Roads Recordings, Arhoolie Record Label and Virginia Foundation of the Humanities. The band members have also been recorded by JuneAppal, Heritage and been on fiddle compilations for Rounder Records. The Whitetop Mountain Band has been featured in many books, magazines, and tv/radio shows about Appalachian music such as The Guide to the Crooked Road, A Hotbed of Musicians, Strings of Life, In Good Keeping, Country Music Television, Travel Channel, PBS, Old Time Herald, and many tv news and radio programs. They also won the ACMA Old Time Entertainers of the Year award in 2014.
UK TOUR LINE-UP 2018 “Whitetop Mountain Girls”
Emily Spencer- banjo, vocals
Martha Spencer- fiddle, vocals, dance
Kelley Breiding- guitar, vocals
Debbie Bramer- bass, vocals, dance
The Whitetop Mountain Band has been led by Thornton and Emily Spencer since the 70s.
For the 2018 UK Tour, the band will consist of an all-gal line-up of Emily Spencer on banjo and vocals, her daughter, Martha Spencer, on fiddle, vocals and dance, Debbie Bramer on bass and dance, and Kelley Breiding on guitar and vocals.
Emily Spencer is known for her hard driving clawhammer style that she learned from many old timers in the Grayson County area and her strong singing on old ballads, country and blues numbers. Emily runs the Albert Hash Memorial Stringband program in Grayson County that passes on old time music to the youth as well. Martha Spencer, her daughter, is a multi-instrumentalist (fiddle, guitar, banjo, bass), singer and flatfoot dancer. She has toured abroad with several groups and taken part in many Master flatfoot dancing workshops and performances. Debbie Bramer, originally from Michigan, moved to Fancy Gap, Virginia in the early 90s. Debbie plays bass, sings and dances in the band. Debbie has been a member of several clogging teams and been active in many dance workshops and competitions. Kelley Breiding, North Carolina native, is also a multi-instrumentalist and powerhouse vocalist. She is the leader of a classic country and western swing band, Kelley and the Cowboys, and also performs in a group with Martha and her brother, Kilby, called Spencer Branch. She will be joining the Whitetop Mountain Band on guitar and vocals for this tour.