Classic folk singer and songwriter Bill Staines is lauded by the press and his peers. Now, the nationally recognized performer is coming to perform at two Northern Michigan events. MyNorth Media entertainment writer Ross Boissoneau gives us the background on the “New Englander who writes better cowboy songs than anybody in the Southwest.”


Singer/songwriter Bill Staines, a mainstay for four decades on the folk circuit

How he got his start

Staines formed his first band with his junior high school friend, Dick Curtis, and Curtis’s younger brother John. He later organized and ran a student folk music coffeehouse at his high school, which no doubt came in handy years later when he became the host of a weekly open-mike hootenanny at the folk music venue Club 47 in Harvard Square. Staines became involved with the Boston-Cambridge folk scene in the early 1960’s. The New England native gained popularity as a songwriter when Randy Burns & the Skydog Band recorded his first original song, “That’s the Way It’s Going to Go in Time,” in 1966. He released his debut album, Bag of Rainbows, the same year. By 1971, he was being hailed in the press as “Boston’s best performer.”


Classic folk

Influences and Inspirations

Hank Williams, Woody Guthrie, Tex Ritter

Additional Background

Staines is a multiple threat: Singer/songwriter, performer, even yodeler. He even won the National Yodeling Championship in 1975 in Kerrville, Texas. 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, and Nanci Griffith. Staines has performed on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion and Public Radio’s Mountain Stage. His music has been used on HBO’s award-winning series Deadwood as well as in a number of films. Staines even entered the literary world when his song “All God’s Critters” was released as a Simon and Schuster children’s book, with illustrations by Caldecott Honor-winning artist Kadir Nelson.


“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

“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


Grow Benzie, 5885 Frankfort Hwy, Benzonia; Sleder’s, 717 Randolph, Traverse City

Date & Time

April 1 at 8 p.m. (Grow Benzie), April 3 at 4 p.m. (Sleder’s)

Ticket information

Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door. Tickets for Grow Benzie show available at East Shore Market in Beulah, Stormcloud Brewing, Corner Drug, or Betsie Bay Furniture in Frankfort. For the Sleder’s show, outlets are Sleder’s, Oryana, Brilliant Books, and The Silver Swan.

For more

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Photo(s) by Larry Marcus. Courtesy