Branches of folk

The Pines bring their sorrowful sound to the Cedar Cultural Center on Saturday.

Jackie Renzetti

The Pines’ haunting strings and vocals have crept across the country.

The Minneapolis-based band has released four full-length albums since 2002. Most recently, the group released “Dark So Gold” in 2012. Over the years, it has played with Mavis Staples, Arcade Fire, Iris DeMent, Mason Jennings, and most recently, S. Carey. Next up, the band will perform at the Cedar Cultural Center with esteemed artist John Trudell.

Frontmen David Huckfelt and Benson Ramsey first met in Tucson, Ariz.

After hitting it off, they decided to move to Minneapolis, where they met the rest of the band’s members.

“We didn’t have any real contacts in Minneapolis. We just knew that it was a good city that seemed to have more going on than most places around the Midwest, and we wanted to be in the Midwest,” Huckfelt said. “The size is right. It’s big enough for diversity, but it’s small enough for collaboration.”

The two frontmen originally hail from Iowa, and they claim Iowan folk music as a major influence in their music.

“I would probably say [Iowa folk] is the very foundation of it,” Ramsey said of their sound.

Ramsey cited Iowa artists Greg Brown, Dave Moore and Joe Price as the “Mount Rushmore [they] grew up with.”

However, he said there isn’t a clear disparity between Iowa folk and the music of the Midwest.

“I don’t really feel any distance between the two things. I think that’s why Minnesota felt so comfortable for us,” Ramsey said. “It’s kind of just the Midwest in general that has this sort of certain feel to the music.”

The folk-influenced, acoustic-heavy music tends to evoke sadness.

“It’s kind of just … what comes out. … It’s not something we try to do,” Ramsey said. “I feel like everybody kind of has this, like, sadness in them.”

When asked if there are intentions behind the sorrowful sound, Huckfelt said, “The goal and the hope is to express all parts of life, and I feel like there’s a lot of joy that exists in the songs we write and the music we make. … I think it has more to do with acceptance than sadness.”

The calming, visceral songs usually ferment under similarly mellow conditions. Though the band creates songs in all different ways, Ramsey said, its members usually come up with the tunes during quiet times off the road.

“There’s as many ways you can break into a house as how many ways we can get into songwriting,” Huckfelt said.

He said rather than fixating on a refined song-making process, members of the band like to focus on the clarity of their music. Likewise, rather than generalizing the stories behind them, he prefers to let the songs speak on their own. The group prioritizes communicating emotions over presenting specific stories.

“I think being clear and being literal are two different things,” Huckfelt said. “Any song that sounds like a story has probably got one.”

Huckfelt and Ramsey said the band has a new album in the works.

“When we like it, whenever that is, that’s when it will come into the world. Till then, it’s a little too soon to tell,” Huckfelt said.

Before Minneapolis’ 400 Bar  closed, the band played a night with Haley Bonar and Arcade Fire.

“I hadn’t even heard of them,” Ramsey said. “But it was really fun. They were really nice.”

The members of the group said they look forward to seeing John Trudell at the Minneapolis show.

“Just to have him come to Minneapolis where he has a lot of roots and family, to be able to do a night with him, is a true honor,” Huckfelt said.


  What: The Pines with John Trudell

  Where: Cedar Cultural Center, 416 S. Cedar Ave., Minneapolis

  When: 8 p.m. Saturday

  Cost: $20-25