When the main character goes to a party up in the North Carolina mountains in 1880:
"An old hunchback fiddler croched on a chair in the wide doorway between the two rooms, grinning fiercely as he thumped his foot on the floor and sawed away on "Rock about My Saro Jane."
That use of detail makes him come alive. The hunchback, the fierce grin, even his foot thumping on the floor. You can expend one or two extra words on the clerk or the cabdriver and make him appear before the reader.