Justin Jay Arnold may have started playing guitar later in life, but he hasn’t been able to put it down since. Growing up in Sparta, Wisconsin, Justin was raised on the music of his father and the Feather River Canyon Band. The songs of Creedence Clearwater Revival, Waylon Jennings and Elvis Presley still ring familiar and have a sentimental place in the heart of this authentic songwriter, who now calls Chippewa Falls his home.
Despite growing up in a family full of musicians and poets, Justin didn’t start to find his own voice until the age of 26, when he purchased his first guitar. “I really didn’t play it that much in that first year,” he says. “But a year later, I picked it up again and started writing almost immediately.” Personal struggle, the loss of his long-held faith and the death of his grandfather years prior led to Justin’s first recording project – a five-song, self-titled EP that he recorded with well-known Chippewa Valley songwriter Jeff White and released in 2010.
A year later, he started recording his second album, “Death and Life,” with Evan Middlesworth at Pine Hollow Audio in Eau Claire. The sophomore effort, which stemmed from the Pine Hollow Audio Songwriter Sessions, was delayed and not released until 2014. On the album, Justin continued to write about what was close to his heart in the death of his father, the birth of his twin sons and his return to his faith, which he writes about in his song “Agape.” “That was the first of maybe two or three times in my life thus far where I’ve heard God talking to me,” he says about “Agape.” “I remember it felt like my heart opened up, and all the love that had been broken in the past was replaced by this overwhelming, unconditional love. And that’s when I realized that He was always right there, just waiting for me to turn around and see Him.”
With his sandpapered vocals, and a songwriting style that is honest, personal and guaranteed to pull at your heartstrings, Justin has been nominated multiple times for Best Folk Performer in Volume One’s Best of the Chippewa Valley reader’s poll. He is currently working on three new albums, which are tentatively scheduled for release in 2020, and he has opened and/or played alongside such acts as: Hymn for Her; Evergreen Grass Band; Dames; Michael Perry and the Longbeds; Eggplant Heroes; Greg Gilbertson; James Ignacio; Past & The Present; Brian Bethke; Adelyn Rose; Mark Mallman; Caitlin McGarvey and most recently, the legendary David Allan Coe. You can often hear Justin’s songs on Converge Radio, 99.9 FM in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and the rest of the Chippewa Valley. Converge Radio Station Manager Scott Morfitt has referred to his music as “part of the DNA" of that station.