Hi Friends,

I hope the summer finds you slowing down a little and enjoying yourselves. We kicked into summer mode earlier than usual, when we completed building a sleeping porch off of our bedroom – we’ve been sleeping outside since late April and while we’re still working a lot, part of me feels like I’m at camp every day. The other night, I awoke and heard a coyote, a mockingbird, a fox (very unnerving bark!) and a barred owl. The only problem is our dog hears it too and starts barking. The garden is growing, and we have at least, temporarily, figured out how to keep the deer away (wire now stretched ten feet high).

Keeps the deer out (but not the bunnies)

  Our sons Noah and Dylan are about as far away as possible – Noah is in Indonesia, touring with a band he met in Berlin, and Dylan is leading a group of teenagers on a canoe trip for a month in the wilds of Labrador. They both say they’re coming back to our area, but it does make us worry a little – never done parenting, I guess. They are planning on touring with their band, Tik Tok, in the fall. What can I say?  

Free Download – Sweet New England


Being around home makes me appreciate where I live, and to celebrate that, we’re offering a free download of my song Sweet New England, from my live recording Mistakes Were Made. It’s an a cappella song, based on a traditional English melody, and it talks about how much I like this corner of the world. Hope you like it!

(Available until August 20, 2010)




I have a new recording of stories coming out this fall. The Best Candy in the Whole World – is four stories (and one song), aimed at elementary schools and the adults around them. We recorded it here, in my little studio, and with my old friend David Correia, who has moved his Celebration Sound studios to his basement, just a bike ride away from my house. It’s got the title story, about Barney Humpfnagel and his never ending supply of candy; my version of an African story, The Boy Who Hid in a Peanut; an updating of the traditional tale The Three Sillies; and my take on Jack and the Singing Leaves, one of my favorite traditional stories that I learned from the great Scottish teller, Duncan Williamson, who died in 2008. It will be available for purchase from our website or Amazon or CD Baby or at any of my performances (check the calendar). We will also sell it as a digital download through our online store.

Listen to a clip
The Best Candy in the Whole World Get Flash !

Between Home and School – self-publishing hits Round River Productions!


At Debbie’s urging (and direction!) we’re self-publishing a book called Between Home and School: Letters, Notes & Emails, a progression of letters and e-mails back and forth between a mother and the teachers her son has from Kindergarten to high school. It’s a piece I wrote ten years ago, and have read at various conferences to great reception. We’re getting good feedback from the educators and readers we’ve sent it to, and think it might have a good long life encouraging discussion about communication between home and school. It’s supposed to make you cry and laugh, and I think it might do that.We expect to have them available to purchase by the end of August. Click here to learn more about the book.


RI Council for the Humanities Lifetime Achievement Award


I got a call a month or so ago from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities Chair, Mary Lee Partington, telling me they were going to give me their Lifetime Achievement Award. I was surprised and delighted, and explained that I live a mile from Rhode Island, and didn’t know I was old enough to get a lifetime achievement award. She said they didn’t care. I truly am honored – I’ve always had a hard time deciding where I fit, and being an artist getting award from the humanities feels pretty good.  The ceremony is at Hope Artiste Village in Pawtucket RI on October 18th, and if you’re in the area and want to go, you can find out about the event at the RI Council's website. I’d love to see you there. Here's a link to an article about it in the Providence Journal.


That folksong album


Thanks for all your suggestions about songs to put on my folksong album. We’ve just started recording and it will be out in the winter, (I think). Still not set on everything included, but it has been great fun to listen and think about songs, and even more fun to rehearse with a great band.

Bill in the recording studio with Kim Trusty, Marty Ballou, Kevin Fallon and Dickie Reed

picture by Paul Chiera




Teaser Video: Bill Harley from RI Council for the Humanities on Vimeo.



Rehearsal at the Jacob St Studio. Bill with Marty Ballou, Kevin Fallon, Cathy Clasper-Torch, Kim Trusty and Martin Grosswendt.

filmed by Paul Chiera

  Books we like  

Debbie mentioned in the last newsletter how much she loved Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann, and I add my recommendation. It’s a beautiful book and a great work of imagination. I also enjoyed Brothers and Keepers by John Edgar Wideman, and Sippewissett: Or, Life on a Salt Marsh by Tim Traver, about the author’s experiences living close to a salt marsh in Falmouth, Massachusetts. Living in the same general area, it makes me take a closer look at the place I live.

I’ve been reading a lot of books about education and schools lately, and was reminded again, reading Horace’s Compromise, how perceptive and thoughtful Theodore Sizer was in his work. Too bad we’ve lost him. I’ve also enjoyed rereading a neat little book, Radical Presence by Mary Rose O’Reilly, which takes a spiritual and thoughtful look at what teaching is.

Hi Folks – Debbie here! Much of my ‘extra’ time is in the garden these days but I do have two books to recommend this time round: Life of Pi by Yann Martel – adventure and spirituality – and The Postmistress by Sarah Blake – three very different women, WWII, public and private lives – a good read!

As always let us know what you're reading (and what you think we'd like to read) - Michele@billharley.com

  Local Fun!!  

If you live in the Providence area and would like to join us for some big fun, Debbie and I are starting a "Good JuJu Team".  Inspired by the group Improv Everywhere (in NYC), we are looking to gather a LARGE group of folks who are willing to hear about and, schedule permitting, participate in "causing occasional scenes of chaos and joy in public places".  When you have a few minutes for some fun, check out some scenes below - they will give you a good sense of what we're planning to do.

Frozen Grand Central  ·  Surprise Wedding Reception  ·  High Five Escalator  ·  Welcome Back!

If you would like to be on our mailing list please email Debbie.  The first mission will be on Saturday morning, August 21st in Providence.  If you sign up, details and instructions will follow.  The first mission will be good for ALL AGES - families encouraged to come!




Hey – hire me will ya? We've got some open dates in the fall and spring, and don’t assume you just can’t get me. I am leaving New England several times during the coming year, but especially love work within a couple of hours car drive of my kitchen. I’m available for school visits (can wear my author hat, if you’re worried about me being educational) and especially like doing family shows in conjunction with school visits. Call or e-mail Debbie and we’ll see what we can work out. Performing is what I do, and I might as well do it where you live!