Jim Cunningham
Guitarist and Luthier

I began my musical life at age 11 playing the trumpet in the school band of my hometown, Manson, Iowa. By age 14, I received my first guitar and began the lifelong task of teaching myself to play. Upon graduation from high school in 1972 I auditioned for and was accepted into the United States Navy Music Program as a trumpet instrumentalist.

After completion of the Navy's Basic Music Course I was stationed at Navy Bands in San Diego and San Francisco, California. At both of these Bands I was officially a trumpet player, but my abilities as a guitarist put me in Navy Rock bands performing in support of Navy Recruiting. In 1976 I separated from the Navy and headed for Boston, Massachusetts to attend The School of Contemporary Music to formally study music. After two years I decided to go back to the Navy, both for the performance opportunities as well as the financial benefits it offered. This time I auditioned as a guitarist. In 1979 I won a spot as guitarist with The United States Naval Academy Band in Annapolis, Maryland where I performed primarily with the Navy's premier Contemporary Music Ensemble, The Electric Brigade. Among the benefits of membership in the Naval Academy Band are permanent duty, so I spent the remaining 25 years in the Navy in Annapolis. Performance duties of Navy guitarists require many facets, including the ability to sight read music and to play multiple styles, so in addition to the rock/pop band, I also performed in an 18 piece jazz band, small combos ranging from duos to quintets, solo performances, as well as occasional concerts as a member of the concert band.

In 2004 I retired from the Navy as a Master Chief Musician and began a second career as a freelance musician, playing whatever is required by the opportunities presented. I perform weekly as a member of the jazz trio "Oreo," play weddings and corporate events along the east coast as a member of the 9 piece variety band "Raggs and the All-Stars," and play in various lounge and restaurant groups.