Hailing from Minneapolis, Minnesota, the Pines fuse the spare acoustic sound and evocative storytelling of folk music with the eclecticism and attitude of rock & roll. The Pines were formed in 2002 by vocalists, guitarists, and songwriters David Huckfelt and Benson Ramsey; while both men were born and raised in Iowa, they happened to meet while they were living in Tucson, Arizona, and after discovering they were of similar minds musically, they began writing songs together. David and Benson both grew up with an appreciation of classic folk and blues music, and Benson's father, Bo Ramsey, is a celebrated guitarist, songwriter, and producer best known for his work with Greg Brown, Joan Baez, and Lucinda Williams. After a brief spell in their native Iowa, David and Benson settled in Minneapolis and began performing together as a duo; soon Benson's brother Alex Ramsey began sitting in with the two guitarists on piano. In 2004, the Pines recorded their first album, which was released through the local label Trailer Records; produced by Bo Ramsey and featuring a handful of friends and colleagues backing up David, Benson, and Alex, the album reflected an uptempo folk-rock sound that would fade into a more measured approach in the next few years.
In 2007, the Pines signed with the respected folk and roots label Red House Records, and the group's spare, contemplative sound shone clearer on its first release for the label, Sparrows in the Bell (also produced by Bo Ramsey). By this time, the Pines had grown into a proper band with the addition of Michael Rossetto on banjo, Chris Morrissey on bass, and J.T. Bates on drums. Sparrows in the Bell received positive reviews, as did 2009's Tremolo, and the group toured extensively, with David Huckfelt and Benson Ramsey sometimes performing as a duo and sometimes bringing their full band, which had expanded to a septet with the addition of guitarist Jacob Hanson. (James Buckley also came aboard as bassist following the departure of Chris Morrissey.) In 2011, the Pines joined Mason Jennings for a U.S. tour, serving as both his opening act and his backing band on 25 dates. In early 2012, the Pines released their fourth album, Dark So Gold, with an extensive North American tour launched in support. In January 2016, the Pines released their fifth album, Above the Prairie, which included guest appearances from Ryan Young of Trampled by Turtles and celebrated Native American musician, poet, and activist John Trudell. ~ Mark Deming