Justin Branum - (Violin, Mandolin)
Starting on the fiddle at the late age of 12, Justin immediately had a passion for music and entered his first fiddle contest after having played for only 8 months. Though he did not place high in the contest, it was enough for the music bug to take a hold and lead him down the path towards a musical career. After initially being exposed to the music of Texas fiddle legend Benny Thomasson and bluegrass fiddle legend Kenny Baker, Justin learned to emulate the sounds he was hearing directly from recordings. Soon after entering into the world of contest fiddling, Justin was exposed to other great Texas fiddlers like Major Franklin, Louis Franklin, Norman Soloman, Vernon Soloman, and Terry Morris just to name a few. Through this exposure to Texas fiddling, Justin found out about swing fiddler extraordinaire Johnny Gimble and was soon after changing his focus from contest fiddling to western swing, country, and jazz. Now modeling his style after swing fiddlers like Johnny Gimble, Buddy Spicher, J.R. Chatwell, and Svend Asmussen, Justin began playing in swing combos and late night jam sessions to learn how to play western swing and jazz.
After spending his teenage years playing in fiddle contests throughout the country and picking up a few titles along the way, Justin entered college and eventually obtained a Master of Music in Jazz Studies degree from Webster University in St. Louis, MO. At 27 years old, Justin is the 2010 Tennessee State Fiddle Champion, 2010 Gone to Texas Fiddle Champion, and most recently the 2010 Grand Master Fiddler Champion. The GMFC takes place in Nashville, TN and is considered to be the most prestigious fiddle contest in the country. As the winner of the GMFC, Justin got to play on the Grand Ole Opry for the opening weekend show after the Opry was remodeled due to the flood. Justin plays with countless bands in the St. Louis area such as Swing DeVille, Colonel Ford, The Palominos, The Notable Haberdashers, and many others. In addition to his performing career, Justin does studio session work, teaches private lessons, and is an adjunct professor at East Central College in Union, MO where he teaches jazz improvisation.