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Bill Staines performs in Mansfield on Saturday

2008 April 15

Bill Staines' When I first started listening to folk music, I fell in love with the music of Nanci Griffith. I remember one of Nanci’s early CDs, called “Once in a Very Blue Moon,” where she sang a song called “The Roseville Fair.” The love song talked about rural America and became one of my all-time favorites. I later learned that the song was written by Bill Staines, a native New Englander, who has been a staple on the Boston folk scene since the 60s.

Staines, who travels all around the country, returns to the area this Saturday, when he will perform at the Rose Garden Coffeehouse, in Mansfield, Mass. It’s been at least seven or eight years since Staines has played the Rose Garden, so this will be a treat.

As Staines comes to town, he also has a new CD, called “Old Dogs,” on Red House Records. It’s his first CD in three years and is everything that Staines fans will love: simple, tender melodies, layered with Staines’ warm baritone vocals and lyrics filled with imagery of people and places in the country. Most of the songs are Staines originals, except for a few by Norman Blake, John Stewart and Guy Clark.

Staines is at his lyrical best right off the bat. The title track, with its finger-picked acoustic guitar, is clever and true:

“Old dogs lie beside the door, they toss and turn and scratch and snore,
They fight again their puppy wars of playful battles raging.
Old dogs lie alone at night, they tuck their tails, they curl up tight,
They howl when moons are full and bright and recall when they were lovers.”

The CD also includes an old favorite called “Sweet Wyoming Home,” a beautiful melody about the West that on any other night might be performed by Staines’ opening act on Saturday, The Nashville Clippers. Who knows, maybe Staines and the Clippers will perform the tune together.

The show starts at 8 p.m., but get there by 7:30. For more information and tickets, check out rosegardenfolk.com.

For more listings and area music, pick up a copy of The Patriot Ledger or visit online.

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