Whitetop Mountaineers
Gig Seeker Pro

Whitetop Mountaineers

Mouth of Wilson, Virginia, United States

Mouth of Wilson, Virginia, United States
Band Country Bluegrass

Calendar

This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos

Music

Press


"Festival Opener Martha Spencer is the Real McCoy"

Saturday, February 02, 2008
Old-time festival opener Martha Spencer is the real McCoy
With the revival of young bands playing old-time music, many on display at this week's San Francisco Bluegrass & Old-Time Festival, we are accustomed to seeing young urban sophisticated musicians imitating the sound and style of Appalachian mountain music.

Last night at one of the SFBOT kickoff concerts, we saw the real McCoy, Martha Spencer, a 22-year-old Blue Ridge Mountain sweetheart who fiddled, warbled and clogged her way into the hearts of a willing audience at McGrath's Pub in Alameda CA.

Spencer is a third-generation musician from the "crooked road" region of southwest Virginia, where she has long performed with her parents' family band, The Whitetop Mountain Band. Last year, she toured the country as part of The Crooked Road Tour. At SFBOT, she appeared as half of a duet with partner Jackson Cunningham. [Photo courtesy of Whitetop Mountain Band]

Spencer and Cunningham performed at at McGrath's Pub, one of the festival's 17 venues, while The David Grisman Bluegrass Experience kicked off the week's proceedings at The Independent in San Francisco. A full lineup of concerts, workshops, films and more continues every day through next Saturday, February 9. Festival Preview will be covering selected events.

Watching Spencer, fresh-faced and fetching in short print dress and cowboy boots, I was reminded of the girl singing "Shady Grove." Some come here to fiddle and dance, some come here to tarry. Spencer did all that and more. If she wasn't on her way to becoming an old-time music sensation, it is easy to imagine her among the girls at the square dance who also came to marry.

Much of the music was pure square dance—reels, hornpipes, and all manner of fiddle tunes, including a cajun number. Spencer alternated among fiddle, banjo and guitar and traded off solo vocals and harmonies with Cunningham, who shined on mandolin, guitar and banjo, and was outstanding as Spencer's instrumental and vocal partner.

The repertoire also called on country duets, including a George Jones song; gospel, with Bill Monroe's "Crossroads" as a concert highlight; a murder ballad; and several heartfelt Spencer originals, "Echoes of the Blue Ridge" and "Home is Where My Mama Sings."

Spencer's voice had as many variations, from sweet and pure to big and throaty. On a raucous bluesy number, "Ruby, Are You Mad at Your Man," she leans back and holds a long note before breaking into a small yodel to end the chorus. Between songs, with her still developing confidence and richly accented speech, it was somethimes difficult to decipher her comments.

Several times during the evening, she put on enthusiastic displays of country dancing—not the graceful two-stepping one might expect, but loud, almost comedic clomping in her great big boots, sometimes while keeping her fiddle bow in full swing.

McGrath's, a comfortable room well known to the Bay Area bluegrass community for its regular Monday night jams, will be back in the SFBOT mix Wednesday, February 6, with Ida Viper and The Barefoot Nellies.

Posted by Dan Ruby at 3:22 PM
- Dan Ruby


"Musicians Make Good Ambassadors"

I just thought i'd drop you a line to say that we had the pleasure of meeting two of your musical ambassadors- namely Martha Spencer and Jackson Cunningham who, i think, come from Whitetop.
They played at the Cornish Bluegrass Festival at Newquay in Cornwall.
We loved their music and songs, and they were lovely people, too. We bought some CDs from them and had a chat and had a fine time.
I understand that they are on a little tour of the United Kingdom, heading up through Wales and over to Ireland, playing festivals on the way. it must be hard on their pocket, what with the exchange rate etc.
You have some special people in your area and they brought a little of your culture to us in dear old England and we loved it. I'm glad they're keeping some of the old traditions alive.

Roger Holland
Plymouth, Devon, England
October 2, 2007 - The Galax Gazette


"Comments"

I had the pleasure of seeing Martha and Jackson perform at the Illawarra Folk Festival and to chat with them afterward. They and their music made a lot of Aussie friends.

Denis McKay

February 7, 2008
Bruce Grant (San Francisco Peninsula)

Comments: Hey, Martha & Jackson! I'd never heard of you until last Friday night when you were at McGrath's Pub in Alameda as part of the San Francisco Bluegrass & Old-Time Festival, but I was thoroughly impressed and REALLY enjoyed your music. I was the doorman that night as an SFBOT volunteer. Everyone I spoke with was impressed by you two. I look forward to your next visit to the Bay Area.

January 28, 2008
Terry Flatley
Comments: G'day Folks, I saw/heard Martha and Jackson in Tamworth (Australia) last week and loved the music! Come back!

November 4, 2007
jeff trask
Comments: howdy! i just saw your band in butte mt. you folks were one of the high spots of the evening. a real good time. i especially liked martha's flat footin. she's cute and can really get it done. (no offense jackson)haha. im a blue grass musician and im planning a trip back east within the next year. id like to come see you all again and maybe pick a tune. i can scratch out an old time tune or four on the fiddle and would love to learn from you folks. thanks. i enjoyed it. jeff trask

September 29, 2007
Diarmuid Moran
Comments: Saw Martha and Jackson at the Open House Festival in Belfast Northern Ireland supporting Mozaik and really loved your music. Will you be over in these parts again?

June 4, 2007
Rory Johnson
Comments: Ya'll were so good out in Williamsburg this weekend. Your playing was just so heartfelt and fun to listen to. I think we got fortunate when it started lightening and they turned the electricity off. I really enjoyed hearing your impromptu session without amplification. I must say that was a truly memorable performace. Martha Spencer you are a ray of sunshine. I've been listening to the album you and Jackson Cunningham recorded, "Home is Where My Mamma Sings." I'd have to nominate it for Bluegrass album of the year. Ya'll are definetly something special.
- Fans


"Musicians Make Good Ambassadors"

I just thought i'd drop you a line to say that we had the pleasure of meeting two of your musical ambassadors- namely Martha Spencer and Jackson Cunningham who, i think, come from Whitetop.
They played at the Cornish Bluegrass Festival at Newquay in Cornwall.
We loved their music and songs, and they were lovely people, too. We bought some CDs from them and had a chat and had a fine time.
I understand that they are on a little tour of the United Kingdom, heading up through Wales and over to Ireland, playing festivals on the way. it must be hard on their pocket, what with the exchange rate etc.
You have some special people in your area and they brought a little of your culture to us in dear old England and we loved it. I'm glad they're keeping some of the old traditions alive.

Roger Holland
Plymouth, Devon, England
October 2, 2007 - The Galax Gazette


"Family Fiddling Keeps Mountain Music Alive"


At the ripe old age of 22, Martha Spencer is alrea...
At the ripe old age of 22, Martha Spencer is already thinking about passing down her love of old-time mountain music to the next generation.

"I think it's very important to keep things like that alive," said Spencer, who grew up in the high country of Grayson County in Southwest Virginia.

Spencer learned to play old-time fiddle as an apprentice to her father, Thornton Spencer, as part of the Virginia Folklife Program's apprenticeship program.

She and her dad will be among those talking and performing in the Traditional Craft Demonstration Area at the National Folk Festival Oct. 12-14 along the downtown riverfront in Richmond. She also will conduct an Appalachian dance workshop.

Music has never exactly been a foreign concept for Spencer, who grew up surrounded by people who make music and by people who make the instruments that make the music.

Her uncle was the late Albert Hash, a legendary fiddle-maker and fiddler who taught her dad how to play.

Her mother, Emily, is the music director at Mount Rogers School, a tiny public school tucked at the base of a mountain; the enrollment is less than 100 for kindergarten through 12th grade combined. The school has no marching band but a collection of string musicians who make up what is undoubtedly the only high school mountain music band in the state.

Two of Emily Spencer's students at Mount Rogers were Martha and her brother, Kilby, an accomplished guitarist. Besides fiddle, Martha plays guitar, banjo and bass, as well as a little dulcimer and mandolin. She also sings.

She graduated from Mount Rogers in 2002. During an interview that year, she and the other members of the senior class -- all six of them -- expressed a deep love for their rural community, which is at once embracing and insulating.

The seniors had various career aspirations, but all said their main goal was to live right where they were.

Spencer went off to Emory & Henry College and graduated last spring with a degree in public policy with an emphasis on public education and cultural preservation. Now she's back home weighing career options -- teaching or counseling or attending law school -- and playing music.

"After the fall, I'll have to get me a job," she said with a laugh during a phone interview last week. "Until then, I'm just going to play music."

Spencer plays in The Whitetop Mountain Band, which includes her father and mother. She recently recorded a CD, "Home Is Where My Mamma Sings," with Jackson Cunningham, another member of the band.

She's her same sweetly affable self whether she's performing in front of thousands at a festival or a couple of dozen at the campground amphitheater at Grayson Highlands State Park, which is just up the road from her home.

She and Cunningham are currently traveling in the United Kingdom, playing a festival and other shows.

After Spencer performs at the National Folk Festival, it's off to the West Coast with other musicians from Southwest Virginia to play a series of shows to promote the "Crooked Road," the state's musical heritage trail. She'll cap off her world tour in January with a trip to Australia, where she and Cunningham have been invited to perform at a folk festival.

Spencer enjoys traveling, but she likes coming home even better.

"I've got pretty deep ties to the region," she said. "I care a lot about where I'm from, and the music kind of keeps me tied to the region as well."
Contact Bill Lohmann at (804) 649-6639 or wlohmann@timesdispatch.com.


- Richmond Times Dispatch


"House Concert Series Review"

The Whitetop Mountaineers are one of my favorite groups. I've known them for a quite a few years, and have been privileged to watch them develop as artists. They come from a background as rich as the red Appalachian clay, and whether you're a fan of bluegrass music or not, they offer an intimate look at music that represents a culture and region that is rarely exposed to people unfamiliar with its heritage. Everyone who attended their performance left with eyes opened wider and a two-step just itching to break free. Many of my regular attendees have told me that it was their favorite of the entire House Show Series.
-- M. Branin, House Concert host



- Melissa Branin, concert host


"Family Fiddling Keeps Mountain Music Alive"


At the ripe old age of 22, Martha Spencer is alrea...
At the ripe old age of 22, Martha Spencer is already thinking about passing down her love of old-time mountain music to the next generation.

"I think it's very important to keep things like that alive," said Spencer, who grew up in the high country of Grayson County in Southwest Virginia.

Spencer learned to play old-time fiddle as an apprentice to her father, Thornton Spencer, as part of the Virginia Folklife Program's apprenticeship program.

She and her dad will be among those talking and performing in the Traditional Craft Demonstration Area at the National Folk Festival Oct. 12-14 along the downtown riverfront in Richmond. She also will conduct an Appalachian dance workshop.

Music has never exactly been a foreign concept for Spencer, who grew up surrounded by people who make music and by people who make the instruments that make the music.

Her uncle was the late Albert Hash, a legendary fiddle-maker and fiddler who taught her dad how to play.

Her mother, Emily, is the music director at Mount Rogers School, a tiny public school tucked at the base of a mountain; the enrollment is less than 100 for kindergarten through 12th grade combined. The school has no marching band but a collection of string musicians who make up what is undoubtedly the only high school mountain music band in the state.

Two of Emily Spencer's students at Mount Rogers were Martha and her brother, Kilby, an accomplished guitarist. Besides fiddle, Martha plays guitar, banjo and bass, as well as a little dulcimer and mandolin. She also sings.

She graduated from Mount Rogers in 2002. During an interview that year, she and the other members of the senior class -- all six of them -- expressed a deep love for their rural community, which is at once embracing and insulating.

The seniors had various career aspirations, but all said their main goal was to live right where they were.

Spencer went off to Emory & Henry College and graduated last spring with a degree in public policy with an emphasis on public education and cultural preservation. Now she's back home weighing career options -- teaching or counseling or attending law school -- and playing music.

"After the fall, I'll have to get me a job," she said with a laugh during a phone interview last week. "Until then, I'm just going to play music."

Spencer plays in The Whitetop Mountain Band, which includes her father and mother. She recently recorded a CD, "Home Is Where My Mamma Sings," with Jackson Cunningham, another member of the band.

She's her same sweetly affable self whether she's performing in front of thousands at a festival or a couple of dozen at the campground amphitheater at Grayson Highlands State Park, which is just up the road from her home.

She and Cunningham are currently traveling in the United Kingdom, playing a festival and other shows.

After Spencer performs at the National Folk Festival, it's off to the West Coast with other musicians from Southwest Virginia to play a series of shows to promote the "Crooked Road," the state's musical heritage trail. She'll cap off her world tour in January with a trip to Australia, where she and Cunningham have been invited to perform at a folk festival.

Spencer enjoys traveling, but she likes coming home even better.

"I've got pretty deep ties to the region," she said. "I care a lot about where I'm from, and the music kind of keeps me tied to the region as well."
Contact Bill Lohmann at (804) 649-6639 or wlohmann@timesdispatch.com.


- Richmond Times Dispatch


"Woodford Folk Festival Review 2009"

"I had the pleasure of attending several performances of The Whitetop Mountaineers at the Woodford Folk Festival last week. From the first note of their show, I was left in no doubt that Martha Spencer and Jackson Cunningham are the real McCoy when it comes to Old Timey music. I imagined their high lonesome mountain voices and tasteful guitar, claw-hammer banjo, fiddle and mandolin accompaniment could have come straight out of Appalachia 80 or 90 years ago. It was obvious that this music has been in their blood for many generations, and this couple have been immersed in it since their conception.
Each performance included a good mix of secular and gospel songs, plus banjo, fiddle and mandolin instrumentals, all executed with ease and simple charm. Despite a heavy workload with at least two performances every day of the six day festival, plus the high temperatures and humidity, Martha treated the audiences to her energetic and flamboyant clogging. It seemed her legs, arms and hair each had a mind of their own – she was sheer joy in motion.
If you like Old Timey music and get a chance to see The Whitetop Mountaineers as they tour NSW, Victoria and Tasmania, I would recommend it highly. It’s not often we get to see the real McCoy here in Australia. You won’t be disappointed"
Stephen Loss, australianbluegrass.com

- Stephen Loss, australianbluegrass.com


"Woodford Folk Festival Review 2009"

"I had the pleasure of attending several performances of The Whitetop Mountaineers at the Woodford Folk Festival last week. From the first note of their show, I was left in no doubt that Martha Spencer and Jackson Cunningham are the real McCoy when it comes to Old Timey music. I imagined their high lonesome mountain voices and tasteful guitar, claw-hammer banjo, fiddle and mandolin accompaniment could have come straight out of Appalachia 80 or 90 years ago. It was obvious that this music has been in their blood for many generations, and this couple have been immersed in it since their conception.
Each performance included a good mix of secular and gospel songs, plus banjo, fiddle and mandolin instrumentals, all executed with ease and simple charm. Despite a heavy workload with at least two performances every day of the six day festival, plus the high temperatures and humidity, Martha treated the audiences to her energetic and flamboyant clogging. It seemed her legs, arms and hair each had a mind of their own – she was sheer joy in motion.
If you like Old Timey music and get a chance to see The Whitetop Mountaineers as they tour NSW, Victoria and Tasmania, I would recommend it highly. It’s not often we get to see the real McCoy here in Australia. You won’t be disappointed"
Stephen Loss, australianbluegrass.com

- Stephen Loss, australianbluegrass.com


""Home on the Mountain" Notes"

It warms my heart to meet and get to know certain top quality young musicians who seem to be particular about their music. Jackson Cunningham and Martha Spencer are such a couple. Unlike many in the current generation of young musicians in their 20's, they do not focus on the current trends in what's generally known as old-time and bluegrass music. As listeners and players, they are not drawn to the 'jazzy' hot licks and the 'soul singer' vocals of many of their peers. That kind of individualism gets recognized as true talent far too often in the realm of bluegrass, country, and gospel music in my opinion. Nor are they drawn to the national old-time music scene that seems to be often lacking an understanding of the fundamentals of mountain dance music. In what this collection on this CD represents, however, the music made by Jackson and Martha is much deeper. These performances are tasteful and solid, yet, not flashy or fancy. This propensity for coming up with an interesting sound in their many types of songs and tunes is not just by chance.
They have been fortunate to have been influenced by family members who were focused on their own preferences for music. Jackson, born and raised in Oregon, with a varied musical background was urged by his musical father, Jack, to come east to the Blue Ridge region to live in the midst of the birthplace of the music he himself loved. Jackson has become an avid collector of classic bluegrass and gospel recordings. Consequently, he has assimilated a purity in his vocals and mandolin work inspired by the classic bluegrass sound he was drawn to. Martha, born into a musical family was immersed from day one into a world of singing, banjo playing and fiddling from the Whitetop area of Southwest Virginia. Inspired by both her parents, Thorton and Emily Spencer , she has mastered their vocal and instrumental techniques and surely makes them proud. Martha's uncle, the late old-time fiddler Albert Hash, would be proud as well.
Together, Jackson and Martha choose to do songs from sources that reflect the strong musical traditions of their home region including bluegrass, country, old-time, and gospel. As a true fan and performer of similar music, the choice of songs and tunes for this CD seems to me to be a fine tribute to some of the fine songwriters and performers who have had an impact on the region's reputation for great music. Jackson and Martha's solid renditions and enthusiastic performances of these and other great songs in their repetoire are a welcome addition to the fine music of Southwest Virginia.
-Mac Traynham, november 2008 - Mac Traynham, november 2008


""Home on the Mountain" Notes"

It warms my heart to meet and get to know certain top quality young musicians who seem to be particular about their music. Jackson Cunningham and Martha Spencer are such a couple. Unlike many in the current generation of young musicians in their 20's, they do not focus on the current trends in what's generally known as old-time and bluegrass music. As listeners and players, they are not drawn to the 'jazzy' hot licks and the 'soul singer' vocals of many of their peers. That kind of individualism gets recognized as true talent far too often in the realm of bluegrass, country, and gospel music in my opinion. Nor are they drawn to the national old-time music scene that seems to be often lacking an understanding of the fundamentals of mountain dance music. In what this collection on this CD represents, however, the music made by Jackson and Martha is much deeper. These performances are tasteful and solid, yet, not flashy or fancy. This propensity for coming up with an interesting sound in their many types of songs and tunes is not just by chance.
They have been fortunate to have been influenced by family members who were focused on their own preferences for music. Jackson, born and raised in Oregon, with a varied musical background was urged by his musical father, Jack, to come east to the Blue Ridge region to live in the midst of the birthplace of the music he himself loved. Jackson has become an avid collector of classic bluegrass and gospel recordings. Consequently, he has assimilated a purity in his vocals and mandolin work inspired by the classic bluegrass sound he was drawn to. Martha, born into a musical family was immersed from day one into a world of singing, banjo playing and fiddling from the Whitetop area of Southwest Virginia. Inspired by both her parents, Thorton and Emily Spencer , she has mastered their vocal and instrumental techniques and surely makes them proud. Martha's uncle, the late old-time fiddler Albert Hash, would be proud as well.
Together, Jackson and Martha choose to do songs from sources that reflect the strong musical traditions of their home region including bluegrass, country, old-time, and gospel. As a true fan and performer of similar music, the choice of songs and tunes for this CD seems to me to be a fine tribute to some of the fine songwriters and performers who have had an impact on the region's reputation for great music. Jackson and Martha's solid renditions and enthusiastic performances of these and other great songs in their repetoire are a welcome addition to the fine music of Southwest Virginia.
-Mac Traynham, november 2008 - Mac Traynham, november 2008


"House Concert Review, 2009"

Living in the northern Virginia suburbs does not automatically connect a person to the older music traditions of that state. Last night a few folks at a Reston house concert found that connection with the music of the Whitetop Mountaineers, and the effect was as refreshing as the first apples of autumn. A video of the Whitetop Mountaineers live in Australia The Whitetop Mountaineers are Martha Spencer and Jackson Cunningham, a young couple from southwest Virginia. From the start of the show, the duo sang strong, clear vocals with uplifting harmonies on "Just Got To Heaven And I Can't Sit Down," with Martha playing clawhammer banjo and Jackson on flatpick guitar. They played casually through a few more songs and tunes this way, trading lead vocals and improvising the set list. Martha told the audience how she had learned to play, sing, and dance from her family and neighbors as part of her rural upbringing. Jackson talked about building his own instruments with advice from many other builders in that area. Then they started swapping instruments, with Martha on guitar and Jackson ripping through some Monroe-style mandolin on an instrument that he had built. When I hear someone play real Monroe style, it just keeps in my head for a long time. Loud, strong, melodic tremolo, and lightning-clean on the dance tunes. Next Martha got up to do some flatfoot dancing while Jackson played the banjo. She was kicking high and stomping hard and had the audience loving it all. All energy and fun. The instruments kept passing around, with Martha on fiddle and Jackson touching everything else at some point. To old-time music lovers, the hour-long set was mostly familiar stuff: "The Cuckoo," "Let Me Fall," etc. The timing was absolutely always there, the vocal harmonies free and light, and the instrumentation spot on the melody booking straight down the road without a swerve. This duo is a subgroup of the full family band known as the Whitetop Mountain band. They are playing as part of Virginia's Crooked Road music programming, so folks in Virginia will get many more chances to hear them if they keep an eye out. For me, I love hearing people who live in one of the musical traditions that I dabble in myself. Martha and Jackson play southwest Virginia music that goes back generations and even centuries. I usually describe my suburban version of fiddle music as "old time," or "music from Appalachia and New England." I'm not apologizing for my postmodern surveying of old-time and contra styles, just pointing out the contrast between folks deep in a tradition and a city-billy who respectfully borrows a touch of that. - Scott Malyszka


"House Concert Review, 2009"

Living in the northern Virginia suburbs does not automatically connect a person to the older music traditions of that state. Last night a few folks at a Reston house concert found that connection with the music of the Whitetop Mountaineers, and the effect was as refreshing as the first apples of autumn. A video of the Whitetop Mountaineers live in Australia The Whitetop Mountaineers are Martha Spencer and Jackson Cunningham, a young couple from southwest Virginia. From the start of the show, the duo sang strong, clear vocals with uplifting harmonies on "Just Got To Heaven And I Can't Sit Down," with Martha playing clawhammer banjo and Jackson on flatpick guitar. They played casually through a few more songs and tunes this way, trading lead vocals and improvising the set list. Martha told the audience how she had learned to play, sing, and dance from her family and neighbors as part of her rural upbringing. Jackson talked about building his own instruments with advice from many other builders in that area. Then they started swapping instruments, with Martha on guitar and Jackson ripping through some Monroe-style mandolin on an instrument that he had built. When I hear someone play real Monroe style, it just keeps in my head for a long time. Loud, strong, melodic tremolo, and lightning-clean on the dance tunes. Next Martha got up to do some flatfoot dancing while Jackson played the banjo. She was kicking high and stomping hard and had the audience loving it all. All energy and fun. The instruments kept passing around, with Martha on fiddle and Jackson touching everything else at some point. To old-time music lovers, the hour-long set was mostly familiar stuff: "The Cuckoo," "Let Me Fall," etc. The timing was absolutely always there, the vocal harmonies free and light, and the instrumentation spot on the melody booking straight down the road without a swerve. This duo is a subgroup of the full family band known as the Whitetop Mountain band. They are playing as part of Virginia's Crooked Road music programming, so folks in Virginia will get many more chances to hear them if they keep an eye out. For me, I love hearing people who live in one of the musical traditions that I dabble in myself. Martha and Jackson play southwest Virginia music that goes back generations and even centuries. I usually describe my suburban version of fiddle music as "old time," or "music from Appalachia and New England." I'm not apologizing for my postmodern surveying of old-time and contra styles, just pointing out the contrast between folks deep in a tradition and a city-billy who respectfully borrows a touch of that. - Scott Malyszka


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Bio

The Whitetop Mountaineers is made up of the duo, Martha Spencer and Jackson Cunningham. They both live in Whitetop, VA, at the highest mountains in Virginia. Their shows feature old time country duet singing, up tempo instrumentals, and high energy Appalachian dancing.

They have played for concerts, festivals, workshops, and dances throughout the United States, UK, Australia, Ireland, and New Zealand such as the National Folk Festival in USA and Canberra, Australia, Cornish Bluegrass Festival in England, NCTA: Virginia's Crooked Road East and West Coast Tour, Lowell Folk Festival, Woodford Folk Festival in Brisbane, AU, Merlefest, Smithsonian Folklife Festival, San Francisco Bluegrass and Old Time Festival, Strathmore Hall, and Wellington Folk Festival.
Along with performing as a duet act, they also are members of the Whitetop Mountain Band, which is made up mostly of the Spencer family and is one of the most popular old time bands in Southwest Virginia. The band has won many competitions throughout the years in Fiddlers Conventions throughout the Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, etc. The band members have won many awards in band, vocals, fiddle, mandolin, banjo, duet singing, and dance competitions. The band was also recently honored with a bill passed by the Senate and House commended the members for their contribution to music in Virginia. The Whitetop Mountain Band recently won ACMA Entertainers of the Year Award for Old Time Music Group.

The band has been featured on many recordings throughout the years and are currently Mountain Roads Recordings, Heritage Records, Arhoolie Records and Virginia Foundation for the Humanities label recording artists. They have also been included in books, magazines, and documentaries on mountain music. The band was featured in a museum display at the Blue Ridge Music Center. Martha and Jackson were also featured in 2013 on the Back Porch of America Show.

Martha grew up in a musical family; her uncle Albert Hash was legendary fiddler and instrument maker that gained widespread attention for his music and craft. He had a great impact on old time music and taught countless musicians and luthiers. Her parents, Thornton Spencer and Emily Spencer, are the leaders of the Whitetop Mountain Band and are well known and respected musicians and teachers of old time music. Her great-grandfather, Bud Spencer, won many big dance competitions such as the Whitetop Folk Festival in the 1930s. Martha began dancing and playing at very young age. Martha plays fiddle, banjo, guitar, bass, dulcimer and sings. She has won competitions on banjo, fiddle, and vocals. She has also been widely recognized for her Appalachian dancing. She has took part in Master Workshops on Dance at the National Folk Festival (US) and been featured as a dancer at several other festivals and workshops.

Jackson originally from Oregon, also grew up in a musical family. His father played several instruments like guitar and harmonica and sang country and traditional music. Jackson's grandmother was also a very accomplished musician, singer, and music teacher. His mother and siblings also play and sing as well.
Jackson began playing at the age of nine on guitar. He went on to later pick up mandolin, harmonica, and clawhammer banjo as well. Jackson has played in several bluegrass and old time bands from the West to the East Coast. He has done a lot of singing in trio and duet groups as well and has recordings on the VFH label. Jackson has won competitions in mandolin and duet singing as well.
Jackson is also a fiddle maker, carrying on the tradition from Whitetop mountain, learning from Audrey Hash Ham, who learned from her father, Albert Hash. His instruments can often be seen on stage at any Whitetop Mountaineers or Whitetop Mountain Band shows.

Band Members