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Album Review

Recorded live at the Coffeehouse Extemporé in Minneapolis, MN, and initially released by the club's record label (with a reissue five years later on Red House Records), Bill Staines' Bridges is a satisfying concert album that finds the veteran folksinger covering folk favorites (Woody Guthrie's "Pretty Boy Floyd," the traditional "I Bid You Goodnight"), repeating old favorites of his own that are beloved of his singalong listeners ("A Place in the Choir," introduced as "my animal song for all you animals out there in the audience"), yodeling ("The Happy Yodel"), and introducing new material ("Moving It Down the Line"). Throughout, Staines, interweaving acoustic guitar lines with Guy Van Duser, sings in his calm, reedy voice, lending a sense of reassurance to his tales of travel and travail. After leading the crowd through "A Place in the Choir," he explains the inspiration for a line about a porcupine, telling a story about his encounter with such an animal on a camping trip ("The Porcupine Talks to Itself"). Although this is his most sustained break from singing, it is of a piece with his songs, gentle, touching, and at times lightly amusing.


Born: February 6, 1947 in Medford, MA

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

The American landscape has been a major theme for New Hampshire-based singer/songwriter Bill Staines. His songs have captured the beauty of rivers, mountains, and the open space of the American West. Staines' ability to write songs that seem like traditional folk songs has made him a favorite source of new material. His original tunes, including "The Roseville Fair," "River," "Wild, Wild Heart," "Yellowstone Winds," and "A Place in the Choir (All God's Critters)," have been covered by such artists...
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