There's an old joke that the difference between a fiddle and a violin is 20 grand a year. But the way Johnny Gimble (pictured above, in 1955) plays the fiddle is no joking matter. Although his music is seldom heard in concert halls, his sound has made him one of the most recognizable fiddle players in the world.
Gimble is best known for his work with Bob Wills, the creator of Western Swing. An integral part of Wills' hybrid of jazz, big-band music and black blues during the late-1940s and early-1950s, Gimble went on to carve out a career for himself first as a bandleader and then as a Nashville studio musician. He recorded with country music stars from Willie Nelson to the Everly Brothers and also worked with Leon Russell, Paul McCartney and Joan Baez. Gimble has won a Grammy, been awarded a National Heritage Fellowship and won the Academy of Country Music's Fiddler of the Year award eight times. The 76-year-old fiddling virtuoso continues to tour and record with his own group, Texas Swing. He plays the Stewart Theater in Raleigh with Hoot Hester and the Time Jumpers on Friday, March 28. --Grant Britt