Biography All Music Guide
All Music Guide:
A fiddler since the age of six, Rickie Simpkins is a true master of his instrument with contributions to a fairly overwhelming list of albums. Growing up in Montgomery County, VA, immersed in the sounds of his family's Appalachian roots, Simpkins would learn the banjo, guitar, and fiddle as a child, even performing with heroes Flatt & Scruggs at the age of nine. By the time he graduated from high school, he was being recruited by the McPeak Brothers as a full-time member, a gig he would continue throughout the 1970s and into the early '80s.
Soon, Simpkins had joined the Virginia Squires and found himself as a member of one of the most acclaimed bluegrass bands on the festival circuit, eventually releasing the critically acclaimed The Heights of Grass in the early '80s. Simpkins further padded his resumé as a member of the Tony Rice Unit, combining traditional bluegrass and jazz and cementing his reputation as a virtuosic performer. That reputation allowed him the chance to step out on his own when joined with an all-star bluegrass cast in 1997's Dancing on the Fingerboard, where he would contribute the fiddle, mandolin, and lead vocals, as well as begin to catalogue his own life as a songwriter. By the late '90s, Simpkins was splitting time between the Lonesome River Band and the gospel group the Isaacs, while also doing session work with Mary Chapin Carpenter and Randy Scruggs. His second solo release, Don't Fret It, arrived in 2002 with a similar cast of bluegrass elites in tow and his trademark instrumental prowess in full evidence.