HOBBY RUN is an eclectic, 10-member praise band that quickly garnered a faithful, exuberant following soon after coming together during a battle-of-the-bands contest in beautiful northwest Arkansas. Of various ages and musical styles, they managed to combine their talents into a unique sound. Bound together by their common faith, they soon become more than merely friends. One by one, the band's talented musicians find not only God's will for their lives but also their heart's mates. First, however, they often have to deal with complex issues of faith, family, and romance. HOBBY RUN stories and books dig deeper into what it means to be a Christian and live a life pleasing to God in today's often confusing world.
A converted milking barn is the venue where HOBBY RUN most often plays. Located in rural Missouri, just over the Arkansas state line, it is owned and operated by Maggs Marko, the producer and manager of the group. No alcohol is served, and a church meets on the premises on Sunday mornings.
The chart above explains how the band got its name. HOBBY RUN is an acronym derived from the first letters of the names of the original four band names from which the members came. Click on the chart to enlarge it.
Music is an avocation for many in the Ozarks. Branson, Missouri, is just 70 miles from The Milking Barn, the venue where HOBBY RUN most often plays. Many music professionals can be found in Branson. The music traditions are very rich in the Ozarks, however, and have been for generations, far longer than Branson has been a tourist destination. The HOBBY RUN series very much plays on these traditions. That being the case, the majority of the members of the HOBBY RUN family (and they do quickly become a family) have "day jobs."
The oldest member of the group, Wyatt is a carpenter by trade. He lives in Centerton, west of Bentonville, in a converted boathouse (where the lake no longer exists!). He plays the guitar and the banjo and also sings, though his gravelly voice is no longer the pure baritone that it was in his youth.
A man of mystery, tattooed, long-haired, rides a motorcycle, smart-mouthed, runs a bait shop in Bella Vista, north of Bentonville, Arkansas, he's the last one you'd expect to be educated well enough to continually step up and rescue his band mates in a variety of ways, but Drew is full of surprises. He never learned to read music and plays a variety of instruments entirely by ear: the fiddle (don't confuse it with the violin), the harmonica, spoons... Even in his scruffy fifties, Drew is a guy you want at your side.
The big man is not just a successful songwriter, he's a musical genius with a lovely voice. He plays anything with strings, including the big upright bass, the violin, even the harp and the piano. Charlie lives on a small, luxurious ranch in the Arkansas Ozarks, and he doesn't really need HOBBY RUN, but–oh, brother–do they ever need him. In his own quiet, humble way, he's the heart and soul of the group.
Matt is a complex character. He's the true professional musician in this picture, playing not only the upright bass but also the violin and cello. Married, he's the least grounded Christian in the group, and he holds himself back from everyone but Charlie. He lives in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, with his artist wife.
A hot young drummer by night, an accounts manager for a soft drink company by day, Sam lives in Bentonville, Arkansas. Like the other members of the Young Rockers, he is adopted, the only son of a pastor with four natural daughters. Sam feels like a very loved fish-out-of-water in his own family.
Stuart "Champ" Champion
The oldest of the Young Rockers, Champ is a lovable, easygoing Teddy Bear of a fellow. An adopted only child raised by an older couple who were themselves only children, he's very much alone in the world. A computer tech in "real life," he plays bass guitar and sings backup. He's bought a house in Bentonville and is ready and waiting for love and marriage...that just doesn't seem to come.
The youngest of the group, Ronan is a college student living in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Ronan is everyone's favorite, a sweet kid who plays the guitar, sings and is always willing to lend a hand and do a favor. He's had his issues, however. The woman who raised him was actually his aunt, and the aunt with whom he now lives is actually his mother. The dad who died when he was a boy wasn't his dad at all, and his biological father took a hike the moment he found out Ronan existed. It's a lot for a young man to process, but he has the HOBBY RUN gang to get him through, and for them, he'll do almost anything.
How a Cajun girl like Amalie wound up in Fayetteville is a story in itself. First her fiancée cheated on her, so she married his best friend. Together they joined the Army in order to get educations. Two kids and a deployment to Iraq later, she discovered that her husband was cheating, too. Now a nurse, she deployed to Afghanistan. A divorce followed, and the ex moved her young sons to Bentonville for a job there, having left the military. Amalie followed. While working at the VA hospital in Fayetteville, she met some musically talented veterans and formed a band, Unit Nine, named for the rehab unit where they met. A pianist, she plays the keyboard and sings, possessing a sultry contralto voice. She also rents a garage apartment to band mate JoJo.
Josephine Joy Lansing came through her deployment in Afghanistan without a scratch–unless you count seeing her fiancé blown to bits in front of her. Unfortunately, her career military father doesn't get it and neither does her pastor brother. She moved to Fayetteville because the VA hospital there has a great reputation, and she knew that she needed help. She found it in more ways than one, thanks largely to Amalie. JoJo manages a print shop and lives above Amalie's garage. She never dreamed that playing the flute would come in so handy or that HOBBY RUN would become the family that she needed.
Reynaldo Ruiz Carter
A Marine who lost his foot and ankle in Afghanistan, Rey is a young man with plenty on his plate. Add five younger siblings, one following him into harm's way and four more who need someone to step up and take over where their late parents left off, and that's a LOT with which to ask anyone to cope, even a trained auto mechanic. At twenty-five, Rey is made of stern stuff, though, and he has the talent to go with it. His saxophone makes mellow music, but it's his singing voice that causes the girls to swoon.
Maggs is the brains behind HOBBY RUN. A producer and manager, she's worked in the music industry for decades. She's one tough cookie, but she's had to be. She's made mistakes, but she's paid for them in spades. Now she's happy to provide a venue for this unique blend of artists and styles. Having purchased and renovated The Milking Barn into a prime performance site where no alcohol is served, she allows a fledgling church to meet there on Sunday mornings and rents out the place for meetings, receptions and parties. Meanwhile, she lives on faith and forgiveness.