Caffe Lena and Capital Region Musicians to Pay Tribute to Folksinger Bill Staines
SARATOGA SPRINGS – On January 22nd, Caffe Lena will host “Crossing the Water,” a tribute concert celebrating the life and legacy of, Bill Staines, a beloved songwriter. The New Hampshire folk musician, who performed at Saratoga Springs coffeehouse Caffe Lena twice a year from 1968 to 2021, died on Sunday, December 5, 2021. Staines was the most enduring performer on the venue’s long roster of artists, which includes the likes of Emmylou Harris, Don McLean, Bob Dylan and Tom Paxton. Capital Region musicians will perform a tribute to Staines at the venue on January 22. It will be streamed live for those unable to attend in person.
Across the world, folk music fans have been mourning the loss of a songwriter known for his gentle wisdom and sing-along songs. He enjoyed a decades-long music career that began during the folk revival movement of the 1960s. He was said to have driven more than 65,000 miles every year to perform at music festivals, churches, concert halls, and even in private homes.
With lyrics reflecting a sense of American adventure, Staines counted among his fans truckers, cowboys, and many children who learned his songs at summer camp. In 2015 Yankee Magazine named him one of the eighty gifts New England has given to America. He often proclaimed from the stage that his song “My Sweet Wyoming Home” was the number one radio hit in Little America, Wyoming, a 68-person town famed for its giant truck stop on Interstate 80. Numerous artists made his songs part of their repertoire, including The Kingston Trio, Jerry Jeff Walker, Nancy Griffith, and the Clancy Brothers.
In 1968, Staines launched a tradition of playing Caffe Lena once every winter and once every summer. Having performed more than 100 times at the legendary venue, Staines held a special role at Caffe Lena. “For many years I have referred to him as an anchor to our heritage,” says Executive Director Sarah Craig. “So much has changed over the years. But Bill has remained a constant.”
“Crossing the Water: A Tribute to Bill Staines” will take place on the date that would have been Staines’ winter show for 2022. It will be emceed by Christopher Shaw and will feature Staines’ songs, passages from his autobiography, and video clips from his final concert at the venue on September 17, 2021. Selections will be performed by Dan Berggren, Kate McDonnell, Vivian Nesbitt and John Dillon, Wanda Fischer, Kevin McKrell and Arlin Greene, Jonny and Annie Rosen, and John Kirk and Trish Miller.
What would have been Staines’ winter paycheck from Caffe Lena will be paid to his family to offset significant expenses associated with the treatment of a very aggressive form of prostate cancer.
In-person attendees must present proof of vaccination and masks are required. For those unable to attend in person, a free live stream will be available on Caffe Lena’s YouTube channel. Tickets and streaming information is available at www.caffelena.org