The Trails formed in 2012, composed of musicians who had found themselves in Nashville due to the musical opportunities the city offers. With members hailing from Indiana, Ohio, New Mexico, and Alabama, the Trails are as eclectic a group musically as their geographical roots would indicate. Each member brings many years of professional experience and a lifetime of musical adventure to this project. The common thread is a sincere wish to make meaningful music from the hearts and souls of the band members, rather than merely using their skills at the service of the music industry.
The Trails are part of the jam band tradition wherein live performance and improvisation are fundamental to the art. But like the finest jam bands, they are much more than that and should not be pigeonholed by that terminology. The range of musical styles that influence and inform the Trails’ sound is truly vast, reflecting the different backgrounds of the musicians as well as their common interest in musical diversity. Yet these varied pathways merge to form a fresh and energetic musical direction.
Some of the many influences from music history that are evident in the Trails’ music include classic rock (Led Zeppelin; The Who), progressive rock (Genesis; Rush; Frank Zappa; King Crimson), classic jam bands (Phish; the Allman Brothers), modern jam bands (Lotus; Disco Biscuits; Umphrey’s McGee), jazz fusion (Mahavishnu Orchestra; Return to Forever), traditional jazz (John Coltrane; Miles Davis), heavy rock (Tool; Metallica), funk, reggae, and classical music.
Dan Campbell (violin, guitar, vocals) was the lead instrumentalist and principal composer for the Alabama-based progressive-jam band Iratowns, which toured throughout the Eastern United States from 1995-2006. Since 1999, Dan has been a member of the Florida-based Frank Zappa tribute ensemble Bogus Pomp. Since 2005 Dan has also worked as a sideman (fiddle/mandolin/guitar/vocals) for numerous Nashville-based national and international touring country music acts, most notably Buddy Jewell, Mark Wills, Aaron Tippin, and Clinton Gregory.
Max Gunther (guitar, keyboard, vocals) studied vocal performance, composition, and electronic music production at the Avondale School for the Performing Arts in Atlanta. While living in Georgia for college, Max toured the Southeast with various bands, ranging in style from punk to folk to hip-hop. After college Max was able to lend a hint of American twang to an international acoustic duo based in the south of France.
Robert Noble (drums, vocals) began playing the drums at age 12. His first original rock band, Enemy of Mind, formed in Louisville, KY in 2000, influenced by Tool, Slayer, and Black Sabbath. After moving to Nashville he helped create the band 15th Ave South and worked with New York female duo Left on Red. Robert’s knowledge of improvisation and the “New Jam” sound has a strong impact on the Trails’ music.
Jim Parker (bass guitar, keyboard, Chapman stick, vocals) learned drums, piano, and guitar as a child and eventually applied all this knowledge to learning the art of performing on the Chapman stick, a unique, avant-garde stringed instrument that combines elements of guitar, bass guitar, and piano. Jim has had a successful career as a commercial composer, having written, performed, and recorded dozens of television commercial scores and TV theme songs.