What The Reviewers Say


The classic fiddle tunes have been the favorites of generations. Bob Simmons makes these well-loved tunes seem fresh because of his special way of playing them: rooted in tradition and yet creative, and imbued with that special feeling rarely heard in fiddlers of succeeding generations. Hearing these tunes is like coming home again.

Bob was born in Herrin, Illinois in 1915, the oldest son of ten children. His Dad was a coal miner and a good fiddler, and Bob played guitar and fiddle in the family band. For his fourteenth birthday his Dad gave him the fiddle he still plays.

After high school Bob went to Chicago and for two years worked seven nights a week in a night club, playing popular standards in a three-piece band. He went to St. Louis in 1939 and won a contest to get a job playing fiddle on the radio.

In 1944 Bob joined the Renfro Valley Tent Show while they were touring in Flint, Michigan. On New Years Day of 1945 he went to work for John Lair at the Renfro Valley Barn Dance in Renfro Valley, Kentucky, playing on the radio every Saturday night and touring in several states. Bob was their principal fiddler, both as a feature soloist and backing up all the singers.

In 1950 he quit Renfro Valley and played with Clayton McMichen's Georgia Wildcats in Louisville for two years. He was also guest fiddler with Pee Wee King in Nashville.

Bob quit full-time music in 1952 although he still played from time to time in bars. He moved west to Wyoming, then to Montana, and in 1977 to Washington, where he sat in occasionally with local bluegrass groups. (Washington Bluegrass Gazette)


The material he chose for this tape are what are known as old time "standards." They're standards because they've stood the test of time and remain favorites. Bob adds his personal twists and improvisations... I especially like his elegance and clarity on the four waltzes included. His friends, Tex Freeland, Zeke Wilson and Joe Yarborough, provide solid yet unobtrusive backup. (Victory Review)

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