The Bucky Walters

The Bucky Walters

 Arcata, California, USA

High energy string band with roots in traditional American mountain music with the flare and intensity of a younger generation. A montage of musical styles piled on top of the pallet of bluegrass music. The instrumentation of bluegrass utilized for the exploration of a myriad of musical styles.


Long ago, over a century now, in the region of Mendocino County that is known as the Anderson Velley, the citizens of the town of Boonville developed their own unique dialect of the English language. Out of this dialect came many hilarious phrases that are today known by only few and understood by fewer. Most of their words and phrases came out of descriptions of characters or events from Boonville's history, and therefore only really make sense to those who know something of that history.

Somewhere back in the mists of time, a man named Walter was the first person in the Valley to own a telephone; thereafter all telephones in Boonville became known as "Walters." When the first pay phones were installed in town they cost a nickel and a nickel being known as a "Buckey" (after a well known Native American who used this name and because it is said there was a picture of an "Indian" on the nickels back then) pay phones came to be called "Buckey Walters" or "nickel phones."

The banjo player for our band, Joey, was born and raised in Mendocino County, in the town of Mendocino in fact, which is not at all that far away from Boonville. Having grown up in this region he is well versed in local folklore and being possessive of a curiosity about some of the stranger elements of this folklore, by the time we met Joey he knew all about Boonville and the "Boontling" (as the dialect is called). He even owns a copy of the "Boontling Dictionary." One of the first tunes we ever learned as a band was one that Joey had written in his early days as a banjo player, and he gave it the title "Buckey Walter" as a tribute to this region and its unique history. The reason why he chose this phrase over the many other hilarious ones that make up the "Boont" is a mystery but we all agreed that if that song was "Buckey Walter" then we could be "The Bucky Walters" (slightly altered spelling) and the rest, as they say, is history.

That being said, we have a strong connection with this region and the few strangers we've met that have happened to know the origin of our name have delighted us with their excitement at having realized that they know something that they assumed was a secret, and we are always amused when someone comes up to us after a show with a sly grin and says "Hey, I know what a buckey walter is!" In addtion, phone booths have become our un-official logos/mascots, which serves as an explanation for the cover art of our second album. We also appreciate that the word "phone" comes from a Latin root referring to "sound" (phono-graph, gramophone, telephone, idiophone, mebranophone, etc) and therefore there is a double meaning to the word as a reference to a group of musicians.

Our music relies on the instrumentation of a traditional bluegrass band as the basis for the exploration of just about any musical style. Of course, our material consists mostly of our own originals and of the songs of our American predecessors, but we do not limit ourselves to a particular genre or cultural style. We like to believe that our youth as well as our varied musical backgrounds give us an edge over most standard bluegrass bands, and in fact we do not like referring to our music as such because we feel that it puts us into a box and imposes limits on what we should play or how we should sound. However, our love for and appreciation of bluegrass music runs deep and we believe that the combination of high energy rhythms, tight vocal harmonies and fast picking is one of the greatest contributions to modern music in the 20th century. (Thanks, Bill Monroe!) Therefore, we will always return to our bluegrass roots but we will never be afraid to stray far from them when we feel it is necessary. One of the factors that we believe sets us apart from other bands, even those who also can be referred to as "bluegrass-fusion" or "jamgrass," is the backgrounds that several of our members have in the study of world music and various ethnic percussion styles; including Afro-Cuban, Carribean, Brazilian and African, and these influences can often be found sneaking into our arrangements.


Currently available are "Bucky Walters" released in 2006 and the untitled second album (also known as "phone") released in 2008. Both were recorded independently. We have five tracks available on and many of the tracks from our two albums can be heard on the radio in Humboldt and Mendocino Counties.

Set List

Our set list typically draws from a wealth of original and traditional material, as well as handful of eclectic covers. We enjoy covering songs by such bands as The Talking Heads, Flaming Lips, Neil Young, Grateful Dead and occasionally random ones like CeeLo and Men Without Hats.