National Fiddler Hall of Fame to Induct Three Musicians with a Garth Brooks Connection
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National Fiddler Hall of Fame to Induct Three Musicians with a Garth Brooks Connection

On September 16, the National Fiddler Hall of Fame will induct three new members responsible for creating Garth Brooks’s sound on record, on the concert stage, and on television—Rob Hajacos, Jimmy Mattingly, and Hoot Hester.  The gala and induction concert will be held at the Mabee Center in Tulsa.

Rob Hajacos, one of the most in-demand session players in Nashville, has played on every Garth Brooks album, leaving his indelible mark on hits like “Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old),” “Papa Loved Mama,” and “Friends in Low Places.”  He has also performed on albums by Taylor Swift, Shania Twain, Alan Jackson, Brooks & Dunn, Reba McEntire, and George Strait.  Brooks was overwhelmed when he learned that Hajacos played the same fiddle on “Much Too Young” that he had played on Strait’s “Unwound,” the song that inspired Brooks to pursue his own musical career.

Jimmy Mattingly has taken the concert stage with Garth Brooks since 1996, entertaining over 14 million people on Brooks’s record-breaking tours, including more than 3 million on his stadium tour, which averaged 95,000 tickets per city.  At LSU’s Tiger Stadium, when Mattingly kicked off “Callin’ Baton Rouge,” the combined energy of over 100,000 singing fans registered as an earthquake! Brooks’s stadium tour ended with five sold-out shows in front of 400,000 people at Croke Park in Dublin, Ireland, in September 2022.  Mattingly also appeared on Brooks’s TV concert specials, Live From Central Park and Ireland & Back. Mattingly is now part of Garth Brooks/Plus One, Brooks’s residency at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

Hoot Hester, who will be inducted into the hall of fame posthumously, was a fixture on the Nashville music scene and backed a wide range of acts including Ray Charles, Hank Williams, Jr.,  Randy Travis, Alabama, Donna Fargo, Mel Tillis, Jerry Reed, Manhattan Transfer, Steve Wariner, and Bill Monroe. He was a member of the Grand Ole Opry staff band for 14 years and was also the fiddle player for the house band on The Nashville Network’s Nashville Now, which is where Brooks recalls working with him when he made multiple appearances on the show.

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