A Canadian acoustic folk-rock trio who might be the true successors to Ian & Sylvia or 3's a Crowd, the Waltons make low-key, largely acoustic music that thankfully bypasses the twin bear traps of preciousness and pretentiousness. The group formed in Regina, Saskatchewan, in 1987 when college friends Jason Plumb (lead vocals and acoustic guitar), Keith Nakonechny (bass and vocals), and Dave Cooney (drums) began performing Plumb's songs in clubs around town. After gigging around western Canada for four years, the trio moved to Toronto in 1991, where they quickly established themselves on the thriving local folk scene.
Guitarist John Switzer, who had started on this same circuit with Jane Siberry a decade before, discovered the Waltons' music and agreed to produce their debut album, Lik My Trakter, which the group self-released in 1992. After bagging a couple of local music awards, the Waltons were signed to Warner Music Canada, which reissued Lik My Trakter in Canada and the U.S. in 1993. For a tour with the Barenaked Ladies, keyboardist Todd Lumley was added to the group to flesh out their sound; he became a full-fledged member of the band in 1994, the same year the group won a Juno (the Canadian Grammy) for Best New Artist thanks to the gold-selling reissue of Lik My Trakter.
Simple Brain, a six-song EP of live tracks and early demos, was released in early 1995, followed by the all-new Cock's Crow, produced by Barenaked Ladies producer Michael Phillip Wojewoda. Dave Cooney left the group just before that album's tour, replaced by Sean Bryson. The group returned in 1998 with the new Empire Hotel, also produced by Wojewoda.