Never Met a Stranger
NMAS 003

These are the last recordings of the late fiddle player Thornton Spencer of Whitetop, Va. Spencer passed away in November of 2017 and was a member of the Whitetop Mountain Band. He and his wife Emily joined the band in 1977 after their move to Mouth Of Wilson, VA. Spencer’s style is traditionally old-time on this all-instrumental fiddle album. He’s joined in the studio by wife Emily on banjo, son Kilby on guitar and fiddle, and Whitetop alumni Debbie Bramer on bass. Guests are Kelly Breiding on guitar and Cameron DeWhitt on second banjo.

Listeners will find most of the tunes familiar, such as “Cacklin’ Hen,” “Lost John,” “Cumberland Gap,” “Liberty,” “Lost Indian,” “Johnson Boys,” and “Great Big Taters In Sandy Land.” The songs are played mostly in the same key and tempo, and really showcase Spencer’s skill on his instrument. Two of the cuts on the project are “comments” from Spencer. One is called “Learning Tunes And Passing Them On,” and the other is “How Thornton Got Started Playing Music.” Both are interesting insights into Spencer’s approach to his music. Other selections include “Loafer’s Dream,” “Sugar Hill,” “Lafayette,” and “Sally Was A Poor Girl.”

The project was recorded by Never Met A Stranger Records based in Richmond, Va., an organization who works between documentary and experimental practices in sound, video, photography, and printed material. Thornton Spencer will surely be missed as one of the pure traditional-style fiddle players. (

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