Lighthouse was formed in 1993 by veteran bluegrass musicians with well over 100 years of performing experience between them.
They chose their name to identify themselves with San Diego’s famous lighthouse on Point Loma, and also with their passion for gospel music.
Guitarist and lead singer Rick Kirby was the founder of Pacific-ly Bluegrass, who played locally for more than 15 years. The group recorded three albums and played hundreds of concerts and bluegrass festivals across the U.S. Kirby was also the founding president of the San Diego Bluegrass Club.
Banjo player and vocalist Wayne Rice has been involved in bluegrass music since the 1960s. He was an original member of Brush Arbor, a popular country-gospel group of the 1970s. While Rice was with Brush Arbor, the group recorded two albums for Capitol Records, played Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry, and was voted “Vocal Group of the Year” by the Academy of Country Music (1973). For the past 30 years, Rice has hosted the Bluegrass Special radio program on KSON-FM.
Mandolinist and vocalist Noel Taggart is a multi-instrumentalist who has performed with several bluegrass bands around San Diego. He previously played banjo with the local 1980's band Blue Skies, and also played with Higher Ground and Rose Canyon. His soaring tenor voice is especially suited for the high lonesome sound that characterizes bluegrass music.
Playing the dobro (resonator guitar) and singing bass is Kim Weeks, also a former member of Blue Skies and several other regional bands. He also works with the popular bluegrass ensemble Highway 52. Weeks is considered one of the top dobro players on the West coast.
Tom Cunningham is the band’s fiddler, but he’s considered a virtuoso on guitar and mandolin as well. The only full-time musician in the group, Cunningham is also a member of the Jackstraws, an ensemble that stays busy performing at San Diego tourist attractions, conventions, corporate events, and other venues. He also performs with Grassology.
The newest member of the band is bass player Dave Somes. He’s a native San Diegan, now living in Descanso, who has performed with a variety of musical ensembles from college orchestras to bluegrass bands. For more than ten years, he has performed with the New City Sinfonia and appeared in The Cotton Patch Gospels at Lamb’s Players Theatre. He’s a former member of Higher Ground, the bluegrass band that also included Noel Taggart and Kim Weeks.