I want one of those “little guitars”, a 7 year old Jimmy told his father while attending his first bluegrass festival. That “little guitar” he was referring to was of course a mandolin. It would be a few years before he got his own real mandolin but from that day on he was hooked. Not unlike John, Jimmy’s first attempt at a musical instrument was a dulcimer. His father purchased one and they learned to play it together until he got his first mandolin at age 11. He would go on to learn the guitar, both electric and acoustic, the bass and even a little keyboard. His bluegrass influences range from Bill Monroe to the contemporary sounds of today’s bands.
Fascinated by the sound of the banjo” are the actual words written in John Arnold’s baby book at age 3 by his mother, Nancy. His parents got him a banjo for Christmas at age 10; however they were convinced that it would be too difficult to learn to play. The banjo was then sold and music would never come up again until age 14 when John’s sister started dating local musician Paul Roomsburg. He got John interested in the lap dulcimer and they played mostly old-time tunes for anyone who would listen. John then learned to play the banjo and helped form the popular Romney area band South Branch Bluegrass along with his brother-in-law Paul and current band mate Jody Southerly and former band mate Tim Southerly. This band played locally and in the tri-state area from 1980 until 1995. In 1995, John and Jody joined with two other Hampshire County residents Jimmy Kountz and Mark Gibson to form a group called First Tyme Around to play mainly at a local establishment on a weekly basis. They also performed at other local functions until the spring of 1996. Some of John’s early musical influences were Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, Flatt and Scruggs, The Squires, Terry Baucom and Sammy Shelor.
Originally from Rocky Mount, VA, Mason Wright began studying classical violin when he was six years old, but it wasn’t long before he found himself playing bluegrass at the age of eight.
Around the age of twelve Mason began performing music with his siblings in their family band, The Wright Kids. The band, consisting of Mason and two of his 4 younger siblings, recorded their first album “Havin’ Fun” in 2005 which included guest artists Dale Perry on Banjo and former Lonesome River Band member Jeff Midkiff on Mandolin.
Throughout middle and high school, Mason regularly competed in competitions, both for classical violin and bluegrass fiddle, capturing multiple blue ribbons and trophies. In 2006, Mason was one of only eight violinists to be accepted to the Virginia Governor’s School for Visual and Performing Arts and month long workshop, held at the University of Richmond. While Mason was busy playing bluegrass with the family band, he was also a first violinist in the Roanoke Youth Symphony Orchestra.
After six years and two albums with the Wright Kids, Mason was off to begin his college career at Shenandoah Conservatory in Winchester, VA studying violin performance to further his classical education.
Since July of 2009 Mason has been having a blast playing fiddle for Lonesome Highway.
Tim began his musical career with a lap dulcimer around 1980. Shortly afterwards he became interested in a guitar he found under his parents bed and his dad taught him how to play “Wildwood Flower”. He and John were neighbors and would play for hours after school and were the original members of “South Branch Bluegrass” (1980-1995) with Tim’s brother, Jody & Paul Roomsburg. Paul influenced Tim’s style of guitar picking toward the old time fiddle, and Appalachian tunes.
John, Jimmy, Tim & Jody began Lonesome Highway in 1996. Tim played guitar, sang lead & harmony vocals and wrote some original songs on their 1st recording “Look Back on Love”. Tim was part of the band 1996-2002. Later that year Tim helped form “Appalachia”, a local band that went on to play many fairs, festivals and churches. Tim was an integral part of their 3 albums, wrote several originals and played guitar, electric guitar, banjo & mandolin during his tenure with the band, 2002-2012. Tim returned to Lonesome Highway in March of 2015 after a 13 year absence.
At the age of 8, Tom learned to play drums and developed a love for music as he traveled on the bus with his dad, Dave, who played guitar for a popular country band, Purple Haze out of Westminster, MD. Tom was active in the band and+ show choir in high school and learned to play guitar. After graduation, he enlisted with the Marine Corp and continued his appreciation for music, teaching many of his buddies to pick, so they could jam during their tenure in service. Upon discharge, Tom returned home and helped form the band Appalachia with Tim Southerly, Chris Chambers & his brother Luke. Tom remained with Appalachia for 2 years and in 2004, joined Lonesome Highway on guitar. Ironically Lonesome Highway was the first bluegrass band Tom listened to. Tom moved from guitar to bass in 2007 when Buddy Dunlap joined the band and eventually left Lonesome Highway in 2010 to concentrate on his professional & personal life. Tom rejoined the band in March of 2015.