Letters

Letters 8-18-2014

The Climate Clarified

Climate change isn’t an easy subject. A class I’m taking compared it to medicine in a way that was helpful for me: Climate scientists are like planetary physicians. Our understanding of medicine is incomplete, but what we know is useful...

Beware Non-Locally Grown

The article “Farm Fresh?” couldn’t be any more true than exactly stated. As an avid shopper at the local farm markets I want to know “exactly” what I am buying, from GMO free to organic or not organic, sprayed or not sprayed and with what...

Media Bias Must End

I wish to thank Joel Weberman for his letter “Seeking Balanced Israel Coverage.” The pro-Palestinian bias includes TV news coverage...

Proud of My President

The world is a mess. According to many conservative voices, it would not be in such a mess if Obama was not the president. I am finally understanding that the problem with our president is that he is too thoughtful, too rational, too realistic, too inclined to see things differently and change his mind, too compassionate to be the leader of a free world...

Home · Articles · News · Music · Bill Staines 3/21/11
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Bill Staines 3/21/11

Rick Coates - March 21st, 2011
The Long Road of Bill Staines: Folkie cult favorite logs 65,000 miles each year
By Rick Coates
Sleder’s Family Tavern has been offering their On The Porch Concert for
several years and one of the favorites has been singer/songwriter folkie
Bill Staines. He will return this Sunday, March 27 after just making a
swing through Michigan 10 days ago.
“This will be my eighth show at Sleder’s and I have played Traverse City
and Northern Michigan several times,” said Staines. “I was just in
Michigan and up north at the Cabbage Shed and then drove back to my home
in New Hampshire. For me, driving a couple days is a typical commute.”
Staines has been touring since 1969. He averages about 200 shows a year
and puts 65,000 miles annually on his car.
“I feel very fortunate to be keeping busy and I try to perform every night
on the road.  A night off here and there is okay, but three nights off in
a row is murder for me,” said Staines.  “So when I book a tour I like to
be performing every night.”

WRITING WOES
It has been five years since Staines has been in the studio and his time
on the road has made it challenging for him to write new songs. 
“I can’t write on the road; even when I am staying in a hotel there is
just too much happening around me. The only times I can write is when I am
at home, or if I am staying with people in their home and they are off at
work. I am not someone who carries around a notebook and jots down every
thought, or phrase he hears.”
So is he planing to head into the studio soon ?
“I am going to have to start applying myself to my writing. I do not
currently have anything in the works,” said Staines. “This business is
about the rhythms; you have to stay in both a touring and recording rhythm
to stay successful, if you don’t then you start drifting away. So I have
to get back into the studio.”
What about home recording?
“I don’t have a home studio. I chuckle when people ask because for my last
album I recorded cassettes on my kid’s Playschool recorder and sent them
out to the musicians to listen to before we went into the studio. So that
is as close to a home recording school as I have.”
After all these years what keeps Bill Staines motivated?
“What keeps me motivated? In one word: it would be ‘fear,’” said Staines. 
“I have what I call little victories, the adventures on the road, who you
might meet, a phone call from someone like Pete Seeger or Celtic Thunder
wanting to record one of my songs. I look for these little victories every
day and at the end of the day maybe nothing happened; but then I say there
might be a victory tomorrow and that is what helps to keep me motivated.”
FOLK’S NICHE
He sees a strong future for folk music.
“Look, I am not performing top-40 material but I think there will always
be a market for folk music; there will always be a niche,” said Staines.
I really believe house concerts have been great additions to the business;
these shows keep you busy during the week and this is reverting back to
the old Irish troubadours who traveled to peoples’ homes, told stories and
performed music.”
Is it more challenging today from the standpoint of competition?
“There is more competition today, there are probably five to six times the
number of folk venues today than when I started and 10 to 12 times the
number of musicians,” said Staines.  “It is much easier to record music
and get it out there today and this has allowed for a lot more mediocrity.
It use to be if you were signed with a record label it was a big deal.”
Staines has built quite the folk resume appearing on Garrison Keillor’s A
Prairie Home Companion, HBO’s 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, Staines won the National
Yodeling Championship in Kerrville Texas. 
He has recorded 26 albums; The Happy Wanderer and One More River were
winners of the Parents’ Choice Award. His songs have been recorded by many
artists including Peter, Paul & Mary, Tommy Makem and Liam Clancy, The
Highwaymen, Mason Williams, Grandpa Jones, Jerry Jeff Walker, Nanci
Griffith and Glen Yarborough among others. 

Bill Staines will perform Sunday, March 27 at 4 pm as part of the Sleder’s
Family Tavern On The Porch Concert Series. Tickets are $15 in advance and
$20 at the door and are available at Sleder’s Family Tavern, Oryana Food
Cooperative and Sound It Out Records. For tickets and more info call
231-947-9213.

 
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