Follow the Old Pine Road
by Emerald Butler
David Walters started The Old Pine Road band back in 2014 with a couple of his northern Wisconsin friends. What started as a fun outlet to whittle away the long winters developed into a full-time job of its own.
“We spent years just monkeying around,” David began. “There have been different variations of the band but this new lineup that has been around for the last two years has been the most prominent.”
The psychedelic jam grass band is made up of David Walters on vocals, guitar, and banjo, Thor Gunderson on drums and washboard, and Chris Skinner on the unique Chapman stick. The Chapman stick can consist of 10 or 12 strings, and it comes from the guitar family that usually takes up the bass lines. Before we go any further, we should answer the question that everyone asks. Yes, Thor is the real name of the guy on drums. Perhaps Gunderson and the Norse god of thunder have a lot in common. Already the band has a few unique features that help them stand out from your typical jam grass band.
“Typical” is the last word to describe The Old Pine Road. They can’t be put into a single box or genre, nor do they want to be. The band says that they play a blend of soulful funk grass with a taste of twang and jam band experimentation. The Old Pine Road draws listeners in with their version of songs like southern rock anthem Copperhead Road then slides in original pieces with a root’s flair. Country music has also been a big influence on the musicians who say that they grew up listening to it. Then of course during their teenage years, they began getting into more rock and jam-based bands like The Grateful Dead. However, David credits his bluegrass influence on the northern Wisconsin community. Thor, on the other hand, has a little bit deeper foundation playing in bluegrass. He has played with another prominent Wisconsin-based bluegrass band, Dig Deep.
“We like to blend a lot of different things together,” David admitted. “I think just having all those different backgrounds and exposers melded itself into what we do. When people ask us what we play at shows it’s hard to respond because we play a little bit of everything.”
This eclectic repertoire helped keep the band busy. David especially can pay his bills with his creative talents. He shared that there is a healthy tourist and tavern scene in northern Wisconsin that enabled him to do this. He happens to be a wedding planner as well. If you’re dreaming of a Wisconsin wedding, David is your man. Although Thor is a professional engineer, the drummer also happens to be a hunting and fishing guide for visitors to the northern Wisconsin wilderness. He has inherited his family’s fishing supply shop and is working on getting that running again after the pandemic. Again, if you’re looking for a northern Wisconsin getaway in a wilderness of wildlife and music, The Old Pine Road has got the connections you need.
Throughout the various jobs, bookings, and we can’t forget a pandemic, The Old Pine Road has managed to record a new original album they hope to release later this fall. The boys said that they meticulously played and recorded every part on their own. They didn’t want to give away too many details because they like to keep the surprise factor. However, the band shared a couple of tracks to give us a little taste. Their track “Summer Sun” rises with Gypsy-like essence. The combination of banjo and Chapman stick give the song that mystic flair as David on vocals takes listeners on a journey through summer. “When All Is Said And Done” has more of that folk jam and driving banjo that makes you want to get out your clogging shoes and dance. And what better earth is there to dance on than that Old Pine Road?