Discography: Mayne's Recorded Performances
Discography: Songs Written by Mayne
Bibliography: Mayne's Publications

An Informal Autobiography

orn in 1939, I grew up with younger sisters Janet and Harriet in the family of Professor Henry Nash Smith, a prominent expert on Mark Twain and the literature of the American west. My parents had lots of folk music records. They paid for books and voice and guitar lessons, and they let me start singing in Episcopal church choirs at age 10 (my first professional gig). But I grew up knowing that I was leading a privileged life in a scary world where millions of good people weren't getting a fair shake.

We moved to Berkeley when I was 14. At my new junior high I met Neil Rosenberg <> and we started playing guitars and singing songs we learned from Leadbelly and Woody. On through high school and two years of college we kept learning new songs and playing with and for more people, adding, in particular, Scott Hambly to our picking circle. You can read about the Redwood Canyon Ramblers elsewhere on By my junior year in college in 1960 I was an experienced performer in the folk music revival movement and a neophyte bluegrasser.

Flowing in the most natural direction, I got an M.A. degree in folklore studies and published articles in Sing Out! and elsewhere. (It turned out that my 1965 "Introduction to Bluegrass" in the Journal of American Folklore was an academic groundbreaker; it has been reprinted and footnoted over and over.) I spent much of the 1960s performing at folk festivals and folk music nightclubs in Oberlin OH and Bloomington IN, as well as California, as both a folkie and a bluegrass musician. Having transferred to UCLA, over the next four years I hung out at the Ash Grove and McCabe's Guitar Shop and picked with people like Ry Cooder, Taj Mahal, John Fahey, Bobby Kimmel, Mark LeVine, David Lindley, Richard Greene, and Peter Feldmann. The commercial music world was opening up to roots-based innovations.

Suddenly I was 26 and didn't need my student deferment from Vietnam any more. Michael Martin Murphey praised a slight song I'd written and turned on a switch in my psyche. I retired from post-graduate work at UCLA. I was lonely and passionate enough to power a bunch of new songs. I also had huge fun as part of a new era when it had become possible to make a living playing funky, authentic music. For a while I appeared solo as a singer-songwriter, but I preferred being part of a group. Along with my lead singing I was good at finding harmonies, and I could function as a sideman on rhythm guitar, dobro, and eventually on pedal steel. I learned about playing with drummers for dancers. On the folk music scene, I was somebody who could supply a country or rock feel. In the electric music world I offered experience with folk and old-time music.

The rest of my musical life has continued on the course established back then. Centered in the S.F. Bay Area since 1969, I've played with a bunch of bands in many styles - bluegrass, country-rock, folk-rock, and commercial country. I've spent decades in a perpetual but occasional collaboration with Mitch Greenhill that resulted in two albums (see the discographies, below). I was also blessed with a trustworthy connection to the business side of music through Folklore International Artists, the company Mitch has inherited from his father, Manny, and is passing along to his son, Matt.

In the early 1980s I was the ringleader of a band called Alternate Roots that played the original Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse almost like a house band for several years, always with a guest star whose chosen songs we'd work up in one rehearsal. It started with me, Rick Epping, Ray Bierl, and Johnny Harper (Lumsdaine); soon Alan Senauke and Sam Siggins joined. Tony Marcus and Markie Sanders also came on board well before the Freight's situation changed and the band retired (except for a reunion gig at the Freight in 1998).

During much of the 1980s and 1990s, I had less time and energy to spend on music because I was on the Board of the new non-profit Freight & Salvage, and I also had to get serious about day-gigging. To my good fortune, my timing and talent were right to become a professional in computer-based publishing. With the formidable support of Gail Wilson-Smith, whom I married in 1983 and who has had a distinguished career as a public school teacher and administrator, I was able to retire from salaried work in 2002 after four years at a non-profit organization that helped disadvantaged veterans of the U.S. armed forces.

Several years ago, Johnny Harper was producing an album project for a mutual friend. I went along for the ride, getting off on the music and realizing that Johnny's working style really suited me. We got to talking, and Johnny agreed to produce an album of me performing my own songs with the multiple mixtures of musicians they needed to sound just right. These included a bluegrass band based on the guys I'd been playing with since 1956, a hot electric country-rock unit, and several different semi-acoustic combos. The CD, Places I've Been, was released in June 2008.

Who knows what happens next, in these troubled but promising times?

Mayne's Recorded Performances
Artist Title Label/number My participation
1963 Toni Brown Out West: Berkeley "Don't Forget Me Love" Arhoolie LP4001 (rereleased 2011 on Arhoolie
CD/Book 518-B)
1963 Toni Brown "You Turned Your Back" b/w "How Could I Stand It" Arhoolie 45-505 (rereleased 2011 on Arhoolie CD/Book 518-B) Dobro
John Fahey Transfiguration of Blind Joe Death Takoma TAK-7051 (rereleased 1997 on TAKCD-6504) Banjo, 2 cuts
Hearts & Flowers Now Is the Time Capitol T2762 Dobro, 1 cut
Rosalie Sorrels Travelin' Lady Sire SI 5902 Dobro, pedal steel, guitars (with the Frontier band)
Jim Kweskin Jim Kweskin's America Reprise RS 6464 Dobro, guitar, vocals
Various artists Berkeley Farms Folkways FA2436 Pedal steel, 1 cut
C.W. Strode "Buckinghorse Rider" b/w "Where's My Wine?" World Records 45 WOR-00321 Pedal steel
Toby Mountain Journeys Camelback CAM8850 Steel, 1 cut
Adina Alpert Feel a Change Josemy JR1001 Dobro, 6 cuts
Greenhill/Smith Storm Coming Bay 215 Vocals, dobro, pedal steel, guitar
Art Peterson "Twinkie Insanity" b/w "The Ballad of Dan White" Bay 503 and 504 — 45s Dobro, guitar, vocals
Any Old Time Ladies Choice Bay 217 Pedal steel, 1 cut
Barry Melton Songs of the Next Depression Rag Baby INT 147407 Dobro, 1 cut
Van Rozay Van Rozay from San Jose Golden Vanity GVR 40 Dobro
Neal Hellman Dulcimer Airs... Kicking Mule Dobro, pedal steel
1984 Robert Force & Albert d'Ossche When the Moon Fell on California Kicking Mule Pedal steel, 1 cut (re-released on BSR 158, The Complete Recordings
Rory McNamara Still Got That Look in His Eye Kicking Mule
KM 323
Dobro, pedal steel
1985 David Rea Feelin' Good Canadian River Music
1985 Kim Shelton, director The Highly
Buckaroos of Northern Nevada
60 min.
documentary film.
Click this link.
Dobro and guitar on soundtrack (with Jamie Kibben and Alan Senauke)
1985 Gerry Tenney Heart Will Carry On Lost Tribe 001 Dobro, pedal steel
Greenhill/Smith Back Where We've Never Been Bennett House cassette BHR 107 Dobro, guitar, vocals
Peter Kessler and Gail Fratar Just Dreaming Swallow Pedal steel, 1 cut
1987 Arhoolie Records 25th Anniversary Party It's Got to Be Rough and Sweet Arhoolie video ARV 402 Pedal steel on 4 songs with Rose Maddox
Rich Wilber In the City Sophronie 545 Pedal steel, 1 cut
Moonlight Rodeo (Kurt Huget) Rio Lindo Santa Venetia Records SVR 200 Dobro, 1 cut
Various artists Out On the Rolling Sea Green Linnet GLCD 3095 Dobro, 1 cut (with M. Greenhill, "Carmen Goes to Bimini")
Rosalie Sorrels Borderline Heart Green Linnet GLCD 2119 Dobro, pedal steel
Father Son Band (Patrick Flynn) Relativity Silverado (no number) Dobro
1995 Wayde Blair Kentucky
Self-released Dobro, pedal steel
Geoff Muldaur The Secret Handshake Hightone HCD 8097 Dobro, I cut
Kirsten Falke (singing) & Dale Zola (composer) The Breeze at Dawn (Poems of Rumi in Song) Mahatti Records MR 500 Pedal steel, 3 cuts
Jane Voss Farther Down the Road Ripple 004 Dobro, 1 cut
Moonlight Rodeo (Kurt Huget) Demo album Santa Venetia Records SVR01 Steel and dobro
Crooked Jades The Unfortunate Rake, Volume One Crooked 003 Steel, 2 cuts
Various artists Gary Davis Style Inside Sounds ISC0508 Dobro, 1 cut ("Samson and Delilah"w/Mitch Greenhill)
Ray Bierl Any Place I Hang My Hat Greasy String Productions GS102CD Dobro and pedal steel, 1 cut each
Smith, Mayne Places I've Been Self-released MSCD-01 Vocals, rhythm guitars, dobro, pedal steel (20 cuts)
2011 David Maloney One More Day Pelican Records RM9043 Dobro, cuts 9 and 10
2012 Kajsa Ohman No Need to Hurry Helios Records CD Dobro and pedal steel, 13 cuts
2012 Peter Feldmann 50 Years in the Bluegrass
(live concert video)
Hen Cackle Records
Guitar, 10 cuts
2013 Pudding Brothers
(Patrick Flynn)
Made from Scratch Silverado Records CD Dobro, 1 cut and pedal steel, 2 cuts
2014 Chappell & Dave Holt Stone and Fire Click to visit Chappell & Holt website Dobro and pedal steel, 1 cut each

Songs Written by Mayne

Artist Song Title Label and record number
Stone Poneys "The New Hard Times" Capitol T2763
Rosalie Sorrels "They'll Know Who I Am" Sire SI5902
Jim Ringer "They'll Know Who I Am" Philo 1012
Lance Romance "I Like It" Mud Mt. 45-501
Larry Groce "The Little Old Lady in Cowboy Boots" Peaceable No. 3
Kaleidoscope "Let the Good Love Flow" Epic BN26467
Bob White "Letting People Go" Front Hall FHR011
Bob White "Tucson One More Time" Front Hall FHR011
Janet Smith "My Dancing Days" Takoma A1027
Greenhill/Smith "Storm Coming" Bay 215
Greenhill/Smith "It's Not Time to Go" Bay 215
Greenhill/Smith "Tucson One More Time" Bay 215
Greenhill/Smith "Alameda Blues" Bay 215
Greenhill/Smith "Saturday Matinee" Bay 215
Greenhill/Smith "Lost Another One" Bennett Hse BHR107
Greenhill/Smith "Slave to a Six-String Guitar" Bennett Hse BHR107
Greenhill/Smith "TransAtlantic Blues" Bennett Hse BHR107
Greenhill/Smith "Teach Me to Cry" Bennett Hse BHR107
Greenhill/Smith "Careless Love Again" Bennett Hse BHR107
Dan Wheetman "They'll Know Who I Am" Sage Arts SA0101
Rosalie Sorrels "I Like It" Green Linnet GLCD (?) —-Travelin' Lady Rides Again
Rosalie Sorrels "Tucson One More Time" Green Linnet GLCD (?)
Mark Bradlyn and Bob Reid "Letting People Go" Now and Then CD info not available
Kevin Russell "I Like It" Jackalope JKLP 1251
Kevin Russell "I've Been Here Before" (self-released CD; no label or number)
Mayne Smith 20 titles on Places I've Been — see the CDs AVAILABLE section on MSCD-01, self-released CD

Mayne's Publications

1964 MA thesis, Bluegrass Music and Musicians: An Introductory Study of a Musical Style in its Cultural Context, Bloomington: Indiana University.
1965 "An Introduction to Bluegrass," Journal of American Folklore 78:309 (July/September), 245-256. Based on my MA thesis. Reprinted in Bluegrass Unlimited, 1966; Linnell Gentry's Enclyclopedia of Country, Western, and Gospel Music, 2nd Ed. (Nashville: Clairmont Corp., 1969); and The Bluegrass Reader, ed. Thomas Goldsmith (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2004). Also sold as a reprint by the John Edwards Memorial Foundation.
1966 SING OUT! articles:
January (15:6) "First Bluegrass Festival Honors Bill Monroe"
February/March (16:1) "Folk Songs and the Top 40"
June/July (16:3) "A Reply to John Cohen"
June/July (16:3) "Lord Randall & Co. Now in Paperback"
1966 Newport Folk Festival July 1966 (program book), "Commercialism in Country Music."
1967 Bluegrass Unlimited (1:7) publishes my "Additions and Corrections" to cap off the reprinting of my JAF article.
1967 "The Country Music Story" (review) in SING OUT! 17:1 (February/March)
1968 "San Diego Folk Festival — a Critique," Khrome Kazoo 1:10
1970 "Chronology of Country Music" in The Country Music Who's Who, 1970 Edition, ed. Thurston Moore (New York: Record World) — a 6-page foldout chart reprinted without permission in 1972 by the same publication after Thurston was out of the picture.
1971 "About Janet" liner notes for my sister Janet Smith’s LP, The Unicorn (Takoma A1027)
1976 Untitled letter to the editor, Seattle Folklore Society Journal (7:4) discusses the commercial musician as "nigger whore."
1981 "Repair Orders," Guild of American Luthiers Data Sheet No. 198
1985 "Robert Cantwell's Bluegrass Breakdown," JEMF Quarterly 20:73 (Spring/Summer, 1984), pp. 33-38 — a review article solicited by Archie Green.
1993 Liner notes for David Grisman and Jerry Garcia, Not for Kids Only, Acoustic Disc ACD-9.
1993 Virgil's Last Party, the story of Virgil’s death at home amid his own wake, is published for real — 500 copies perfect-bound — with copious drawings by Kristen Wetterhahn, financed by Ed Littlefield (about $6000). This is by far the most ambitious project I've ever done as editor, designer, and producer.
2005 "Technical Communications Among Improvising Musicians," in From Beanblossom to Bannerman, Odyssey of a Folklorist: A Festschrift for Neil V. Rosenberg (St. John's: Memorial University of Newfoundland), 415-426.