For Walter, the musical experience began in 1958. It was like a musical revolution at the farm log house, when the newly minted Sears Flat top guitar was gingery delivered to Walter by his father, from the local town of Smokey Lake, Alberta. The payment terms were predetermined for the $8.00 guitar. Walter would earn $4.00 by Christmas carolling farmhouse to farmhouse, as tradition had it at the time, and his parents contributed the remaining $4.00. What a dream come true.
Walter was musically self-taught at the time with a Sears guitar instruction manual, often studying into the wee hours beside a flickering coal oil lamp. The basic and orchestral chord lessons were painful, but inspiring and emotionally rewarding. One day, he said loudly to nobody in sight, one day. This was the beginning of something unknown.
In time Walter would fasten his guitar firmly on his bicycle handlebars and trek almost four miles to his friend Bob Rubuliak, who played a twelve bass accordion. They would practice endlessly for hours and every free day available, and in time they felt like the Johnny Cash Tennesssee Two, but perhaps more like the Smoky Lake Two. Story has it that they would practice on top of a woodpile, playing to thousands of imaginary fans in the field, but in reality the fans were the stalks of grain moving side to side waving to them in graceful appreciation.
During 1961, Walter began to play guitar with a local band called the Lone Star Ramblers. Getting paid for playing music was like a lottery winning, albeit a local booking paid $3.00 and a booking in St. Paul was $5.00 per night. Between 1960 and 1967, Walter played with various other bands and began studying violin. 1967 saw the birth of the Northern Kings Band that has spanned six decades. As band Co-Founder Walter has studied and played lead guitar, bass, violin, and mandolin during the 48 year span. Walter also studied voice under Madam Ward in Edmonton. Storytelling, comedy, an emcing are Walter's favourite stage routines as are the passion of playing and singing. Throughout the years, the Northern Kings have entertained mainly in the three western provinces, and have also achieved a milestone of entertaining in Yellowknife NWT for 25 consecutive years. Other special entertainment events among many were, playing at the Red Barn near Edmonton and the Edmonton Jubilee Auditorium. The Northern Kings have also toured and provided backup music for Mickey and Bunny, Stan Kaskiw, Anna Kraichy and Walter Rutka on their Alberta tours. The band has also recorded numerous records, eight tracks, cassettes and CD's over the years. 2015 for Walter begins with three Ukrainian Malanka Gala events and as the saying goes, the show goes on even after 57 years.