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Music at the Frist: Fiddler Justin Branum
Starting on fiddle at age 12, Branum began his musical journey by learning Texas/contest-style fiddling and competing in fiddle contests around the country. During this time he was heavily influenced by the fiddling of Benny Thomasson, Terry Morris, Orville Burns, Louis Franklin, and other greats of Texas-style fiddling, as well as bluegrass legends like Kenny Baker and Benny Martin. Through contests, Justin was also exposed to western swing and jazz violin, which were so inspiring that he shifted his focus to those styles. During his teenage and college years, Justin studied and absorbed the styles of players like Johnny Gimble, Buddy Spicher, Randy Elmore, Dale Potter, Tommy Jackson, and Svend Asmussen. These studies led to him changing from a straight-up contest fiddler to an improvising player on not just fiddle but also viola, mandolin, and guitar. Known as a lover of swing music, Justin is also quite fond of and at home playing bluegrass, country and old-time music.
Justin has a Master of Music degree in jazz performance from Webster University in St. Louis, MO. Justin was also the first-ever fiddle and mandolin teacher for Washington University in St. Louis and he operated a private teaching studio in the city. Justin is currently a member of Swing DeVille, Colonel Ford, and The Palominos, and has recorded/played for Son Volt and Pokey LaFarge. Contest titles Justin has won include the 2010 Grand Master Fiddler Championship, the 2010 Tennessee State Fiddle Championship, the 2010 Gone to Texas Fiddle Championship, and the 2008 National Young Adult Fiddle Championship.