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Biography

Bill Staines

Anyone not familiar with the music of Bill Staines is in for a special treat.

For more than forty years, Bill has traveled back and forth across North America, singing his songs and delighting audiences at festivals, folksong societies, colleges, concerts, clubs, and coffeehouses. A New England native, Bill became involved with the Boston-Cambridge folk scene in the early 1960's and for a time, emceed the Sunday Hootenanny at the legendary Club 47 in Cambridge. Bill quickly became a popular performer in the Boston area. From the time in 1971 when a reviewer from the Boston Phoenix stated that he was "simply Boston's best performer", Bill has continually appeared on folk music radio listener polls as one of the top all time favorite folk artists. Now, well into his fifth decade as a folk performer, he has gained an international reputation as a gifted songwriter and performer.

Singing mostly his own songs, he has become one of the most popular and durable singers on the folk music scene today, performing nearly 200 concerts a year and driving over 65,000 miles annually. He weaves a blend of gentle wit and humor into his performances and one reviewer wrote, "He has a sense of timing to match the best standup comic."

Bill's music is a slice of Americana, reflecting with the same ease his feelings about the prairie people of the Midwest or the adventurers of the Yukon, the on-the-road truckers, or the everyday workers that make up this land.

Many of Bill's songs have appeared in grade school music books, church hymnals, and scouting campfire songbooks; he is one of only a few songwriters to have eight songs published in the classic song collection, Rise up Singing. Composer David Amram recently described Bill as "a modern day Stephen Foster…his songs will be around 100 years from now."

Over the decades, you have heard Bill singing on Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion, HBO's award winning series Deadwood, and Public Radio's Mountain Stage. Additionally, his music has been used in a number of films including Off and Running, with Cyndi Lauper, and The Return of the Secaucus Seven, John Sayles' debut as a writer- director.

In 1975, Bill won National Yodeling Championship in Kerrville Texas. Another important recognition was given to him in 2007. Presented by the Boston Area Coffeehouse Association, The Jerry Christen Award recognized Bill's contribution to New England folk music.

Currently, Bill has recorded 26 albums; The Happy Wanderer and One More River were winners of the prestigious Parents' Choice Award, taking a gold medal and silver medal respectively. His songs have been recorded by many artists including Peter, Paul, and Mary, Tommy Makem and Liam Clancy, The Highwaymen, Mason Williams, Grandpa Jones, Jerry Jeff Walker, Nanci Griffith, Glen Yarborough and others.

As well as recordings, over 100 of Bill's songs have been published in three songbooks: If I Were a Word, Then I'd Be a Song, Movin' It Down the Line, and Music to Me, the latter published by Hal Leonard Corporation. His song, All God's Critters, has been recently released as a Simon and Schuster children's book with illustrations by Caldecott honor-winning artist, Kadir Nelson.

"Folk music is rich in the human spirit and experience. I've always wanted to bring something of value to people through my songs." With these thoughts, Bill continues to drive the highways and back roads of the country year after year, bringing his music to listeners, young and old.

What Other People Are Saying About Bill

"Bill Staines has been my hero since 1977. He carries on where Woody left off-carrying on the tradition of stories and characters you wish you knew." - Nanci Griffith
"Staines is one of the best songwriters in folk music today, penning lyrics that evoke a sense of place and a generous spirit to go along with his pretty melodies. - Associated Press
"Staines is one of folk music's best songwriters and entertainers." - Milwaukee Journal
"There is no better writer of instantly memorable singalong choruses in this genre of music!" - The Boston Globe
"His gentle lilting voice, spacious melodies and common-chord lyrics give his songs a homespun grace that often belies his mastery of the folk form. He is such a pure pleasure too, people forget to notice how damn good at the job of singer-songwritering he really is." - New England Folk Almanac
"Folk singer Bill Staines' compositions recall the paintings of Grandma Moses - simple, literal and evocative of a bucolic tranquility that modern times have almost erased." - Hartford Courant
"Bill Staines is one of our very best folk and country singer/songwriters. He's a New Englander who dreams of open plains and vast, Western skies, and damn his soul, he writes better cowboy songs than anybody in the Southwest. - The Houston Post
"Bill Staines is a prototypical singer/songwriter, long on the anecdote, quick with the quip, not a stranger to his character's plights and/or escapades. He's an old hand at selling you the kind of truisms that crop back into your consciousness a few days after his tunes have floated off into the ether." - The New Paper (Providence)
"One of the most admired and imitated writers on the contemporary folk circuit.. [He writes] pensive, probing narratives made especially memorable by their ability to translate the common details of common lives into songs of uncommon eloquence and beauty." - The Austin American-Statesman
"He is a poet with Insight about a world that many of us let pass by. He is a storyteller with a gift for transporting the listener into the body of his songs." - The Record Roundup
"A craftsman who has cobbled together evocative details, pithy aphorisms and singalong melodies into a trunkful of unassuming, marvelous songs." - The Washington Post

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