The Pines find comfort in rural and urban America.
Iowa natives Benson Ramsey and David Huckfelt formed the band The Pines after a chance meeting in Arizona. The pair quickly relocated to Minneapolis, Minn., where the band is based today.
Ramsey says that he and Huckfelt were first drawn together by a love of regional music and the blues.
“We were obsessed with blues music and folk music,” Ramsey says of his early days with Huckfelt.
The move to Minneapolis exposed the pair to the music of St. Paul’s “Spider” John Koerner—who Ramsey calls “a huge influence."
“It just started to congeal from there," he says.
"That was actually one of the early inspirations for The Pines—having that sense of place and listening close to the ground [to] people who [aren’t] mainstream, music from the place where you live.”
The band’s third album, Dark So Gold, was released in early 2012. Ramsey recalls that one song, “Cry Cry Crow,” which opens the album, was inspired by a stint he spent living in Chicago and finding himself a rural native in an urban scene. But, he adds, it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact origins of the song as it came to him during a meditation session. Not fully understanding the song, he says, was just part of its charm.
“They’re hard to explain. Those are the ones that we like to perform and record, are the ones where there’s sort of a mystery about them,” says Ramsey. “That one happened very quickly. It was one of the first ones for the record.”
His thoughts on overpopulation, light pollution and other facts of urban life led to the writing of another song, “Dead Feathers.” And, he says, he sees a time when he might fully return to the rural setting.
“I think it’s really important to get out of the city,” Ramsey says, “to just see the day. But it’s a big world that’s happening and being part of it is equally important.”
The Pines perform at John Barleycorn’s Sunday March 24.