Bill Staines has been touring the country, singing his songs and telling his stories, for about 50 years now. That’s an amazing accomplishment. His songs are sung in churches and cathedrals and around campfires. He captivates the imagination of all those who come to his shows, just like his imagination was snared by songwriters of an earlier generation.
To learn more about Bill Staines, check out his website.
Here’s a video of Bill Staines singing one of his signature songs, “Roseville Fair.”
You’re one of the hardest touring folk artists in the country. You’ve probably seen a lot of changes in the American landscape over the past 50 years of touring. Do you have a favorite stretch of highway that you always look forward to or is that last few miles to your house at the end of a tour always the sweetest?
I’ve always loved the wide open spaces of the west.
You’ve been playing guitar since you were a kid. How did you find your way to folk music as opposed to going down the rock and roll road?
I had a little rock and roll band in junior high school but then I was introduced to the ” Weavers At Carnegie Hall” album and that did it for me.
Your songs have been recorded by a wide variety of artists. Do you recall the first time you heard another artist cover one of your songs?
The first artist ever to record one of my songs was a fellow by the name of Randy Burns. He recorded ” That’s The Way It’s Happened All The Time” in 1966. Randy still sings in the NYC area.
Do you have a favorite interpretation of one of your songs?
I’ve always loved the way Liam Clancy did “The Roseville Fair.”
You’ve said that some of your songwriting inspirations were Gordon Lightfoot and Ian and Sylvia. What was it about their music that made an impression on the young Bill Staines?
Ian and Sylvia and Lightfoot wrote about places I had never been before and sort of awakened the urge to be on the road in me.