On Wednesday evenings, The Irish Pub in Lewisburg often hosts guest musicians, along with a special price on a different whiskey each week. Anyone not familiar with the music of Bill Staines is in for a special treat.
Coming to The Pub on Feb. 1, this legendary folksinger has 27 albums to his credit, and has written well over 200 songs, many of which have been recorded by the likes of Peter, Paul, and Mary; Tommy Makem and Liam Clancy; Nanci Griffith; Glen Yarborough; Mason Williams; and Jerry Jeff Walker.
Songs like “The Roseville Fair,” “Child of Mine,” “Bridges,” and “River,” are folk music classics. “All God’s Critters” is known internationally since being popularized by the group Celtic Thunder (check out UTube!) Composer David Amram once described Bill as “a modern day Stephen Foster. His music will be around a hundred years from now.”
A New England native, Staines 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,” Staines has continually appeared on folk music radio listener polls as one of the top all-time favorite folk artists.
On stage, Staines is an intimate, compelling performer. He is left-handed, and plays the guitar upside-down, which is not unheard of, but a bit unusual. His humorous tales of life on the road and observations of everyday people provide an entertaining blend of story and song. One reviewer wrote, “He has a sense of timing to match the best standup comic.”
Over the decades, you have heard Staines singing on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion, HBO’s award winning series Deadwood, and WV 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, he won the National Yodeling Championship in Kerrville Texas.
Staines has recorded two children’s albums, both of which won the coveted Parents’ Choice Award. He is one of only a few songwriters to have eight songs published in the classic song collection, Rise up Singing. Staines’ memoir, The Tour, was released in 2003.
“I have always wanted to bring something of value to people with my songs. I think that is important, to try to write beyond myself, to write to the great things that we all experience in our lives.” For Staines, that is what folk music is all about – a music rich in the human experience and spirit.
After touring and playing concerts for almost 50 years, you would think that this musician and songwriter might think about slowing down, but that’s just not the case. Staines continues to perform more than 150 shows a year and drives close to 70,000 miles. He is one of the most durable and beloved singers on the folk music scene today, delighting audiences at festivals, folksong societies, colleges, concerts, clubs, and coffeehouses.
Beginning about 7:30 p.m., on Feb. 1, popular local musicians Jim Snyder and Jeanne Hoffman will open for Staines.