Twins Arnold and Alden Nunn grew up in a large farming family in Surry County that included eight other siblings, and parents who loved music. At home, their mother played guitar and sang, and their father, Olin Nunn, played fiddle for local dances and events. “He played with a lot of musicians around here,” Arnold recalls. “We were around it all our lives, and next thing you knew, dad stuck a fiddle under our chins.” By the time they were eight years old, both boys were learning to play some fiddle and chords on the piano to back each other up. Alden remembers, “I was so little, my dad would prop me against the wall so I would not topple over and break the fiddle.”
The brothers first performed together at school when they were in fifth grade. They continued playing through school at talent shows and pep rallies. At age fourteen, they started attending and playing at area fiddlers’ conventions. “Seemed like we won the crowd everywhere we played,” Arnold says. When they were sixteen years old, they formed the Nunn Brothers band, and they have now been playing for about thirty years.
In 1998, Alden and Arnold started their own bluegrass festival. “We wanted to have a place to continue the old-time traditions of bluegrass and to have a family-oriented environment for everyone to enjoy,” the brothers state on their website. The festival has continued every year since its inception, and the brothers enjoy celebrating and presenting local and regional bluegrass and old-time mountain music.
In addition to hosting the festival, the Nunn Brothers have a group that performs at the festival and other regional events. Alden plays fiddle with the band, as well as piano and banjo. Arnold plays guitar with the group, and he also plays bass, piano, mandolin, and fiddle. Tim Jefferson of Westfield plays bass. Tim started playing when he was nineteen years old, and he has performed with various groups and musicians including Jeanette Williams, Marcie Horne, and Next Step. Tommy Morse of Stuart, Virginia, plays banjo, and he also plays guitar, mandolin, fiddle, and bass. Tommy started playing when he was six years old, and he also traveled and performed with Jeanette Williams.
More than anything, Arnold and Alden love playing music. “I’d rather play than eat if you’ve got the good musicians to play with,” Arnold says. “We’ve always enjoyed it.”
The Nunn Brothers are available for performances, and they welcome the public to attend their annual music festival in Surry County.