Hoot Hester

  • Grand Ole Opry Staff Guitarist

"… It’s the best guitar I have …"

About Hoot Hester

Fiddle player Hoot Hester has played backup for a number of country music recording artists, among them Alabama, Hank Williams Jr., Conway Twitty, Randy Travis, Bill Monroe, and Ricky Van Shelton. He has also recorded with Manhattan Transfer and Ray Charles. Hester is a member of the Grand Old Opry's staff band, as well as the fiddler for a Nashville-based Western swing outfit called the Time Jumpers. He appears on the band's debut album, On the Air.

 Hoot was born on a Kentucky farm and acquired his nick-name at the age of two. The nickname is derived from Hoot Gibson, a popular cowboy actor. As a child, Hester developed a love of music from his guitar and fiddle playing father and four uncles, as well as from his mother's piano playing. He learned first how to play the piano and by the time he was nine, he had picked up the fiddle as well. It wasn't long before he also developed skill on the guitar and mandolin. He and a couple of cousins formed a band to play bluegrass music.

Upon leaving high school, Hoot found employment with the phone company while also performing with a Louisville group called the Bluegrass Alliance. Relocating to Nashville in 1973, he started performing with the Whites. He moved on to gigs with artists such as Jerry Reid, Mel Tillis, and Donna Fargo. By 1980, he decided to work as a studio musician and soon he was also playing with steel guitar player Buddy Emmons and session guitarist Phil Baugh in Sound Factory. They went on to become the staff band on the television shows That Nashville Music and Nashville Alive.