About Matt

About Matt

A native of Wichita, Kansas, Matt Combs is a long-time Nashville fiddler and multi-instrumentalist who has played and recorded with many of the world’s best musicians. Since his arrival in Nashville in 1997, Combs has worked in some of Music City’s most illustrious studios under such producers as Dave “Fergie” Ferguson, John Carter Cash, Don Was, T Bone Burnett, Buddy Miller, and Alison Brown. Matt spent three seasons as a musician on ABC’s television series, Nashville, and has been a member of the house band for the CMA and ACM awards shows. From 2014 to 2016 Matt worked in the staff band of the Grand Ole Opry, backing up icons such as Vince Gill, Charlie Pride, and countless others. He has toured extensively, as well, going on the road with Reba McIntire, Ray Price, Patty Loveless, Kevin Costner, Jerry Douglas, Jimmy Martin, Mike Snider, and Maura O’Connell. Among Matt’s soundtrack credits are original music for Kevin Costner’s Hatfields and McCoys miniseries, and fiddle parts for the 2016 remake of Roots. Matt was a member of the John Hartford String Band, studying traditional music alongside his mentor and close friend. In 2010 he received a Grammy nomination for his work on the Memories of John tribute album.

Currently a member of Dan Auerbach’s Easy Eye Studio house band, Combs has made several records with Auerbach, arranging string parts. Matt can be heard on Auerbach’s solo album “Waiting on a Song,” and several upcoming releases on alongside such distinguished studio musicians as Bobby Wood, Gene Chrisman, Russ Pahl, Dave Roe, and Duane Eddy. Matt also continues his passionate work as an educator. Since 2004 he has directed the fiddle program at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music. In 2006 he teamed up with the Nashville Symphony and the Country Music Hall of Fame to develop an educational program entitled, “Is it a Fiddle or Violin?”

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Before coming to Nashville in 1997, Matt earned a Bachelor of Music in violin performance from the University of Michigan under the tutelage of Paul Kantor, one of the nation’s premier violin pedagogues. During his college years Matt reignited his enduring passion for fiddle music, which he had played with his father and brothers since childhood in Wichita in the Combs Family Band. He developed a strong interest in contemporary bluegrass while studying at the Aspen Music Festival, going on to win the RockyGrass Fiddle Championship in Lyons, Colorado in 1996.

Having completed his degree, Matt immediately headed to Nashville, where encounters with Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys, famed local contest fiddler Frazier Moss, and especially the newgrass pioneer John Hartford not only confirmed Matt’s dedication to fiddle music, but led him into deeper studies of the music’s rich heritage. Under Hartford’s guidance, Matt undertook meticulous study of the music of the legendary blind fiddler Ed Haley, transcribing numerous tunes at Hartford’s request. He began playing with first-generation bluegrass musicians such as “the King of Bluegrass” Jimmy Martin, Kenny Baker, Josh Graves, Benny Martin, Curly Seckler, and Earl Scruggs. Combs joined Mike Snider’s old-time string band on the Opry, and also played and recorded with the Nashville Mandolin Ensemble led by Butch Baldassari. In 2012, Matt co-produced Pa’s Fiddle, an album of music derived from the books of Laura Ingalls Wilder. This recording inspired a PBS concert taping of the same name featuring artists Randy Travis and Ronnie Milsap.

Matt continues to record, perform, teach, and produce in the Nashville area and beyond, and in 2017 began a book project, co-editing a descriptive anthology of John Hartford’s original fiddle music. When he’s not busy with his many musical activities, Matt spends time at home with his wife Rachel and their two daughters.

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