Winter 2016


Hello Friends,

It’s about fifteen degrees and the wind’s about twenty miles an hour – I don’t what that means, but it’s colder than the thermometer. The dog is excited about going for a walk until he steps outside and reconsiders. I’m thinking about heating up the wood sauna, but know it will take a long while to get there:


the family yurt

My sauna, built with my friend Bob Elliot. Ignore the dirt piles and construction of the half-built barn/garage.

But it’s winter, and I don’t mind.


I hope you’re warm wherever you are (or cool if you’re my friends in the Southern Hemisphere). I have some local school shows and organizational meetings, but mostly I’m hunkered down here, reading, practicing music, and writing. I’m thinking about a lot of things – how kids speak, read and learn, how we treat the place we live, how music works, and what song am I going to sing for those first graders tomorrow. All big questions.


Charlie Bumpers news


I’ve just finished working on the next Charlie Bumpers book, Charlie Bumpers vs. The Puny Pirates: Charlie, Tommy, and Hector are on the same soccer team, and it’s worse than he thought. This episode has taken a lot of crafting and I’m really happy with how it is turning out.  When I was a kid, I loved Matt Christopher books, and the scenes of the games in Charlie reminds me of Christopher’s books. Except wackier. Charlie, Tommy and Hector together are a disaster.

Performing with others  

Bill with Marty Ballou and Rachel PanitchI’ve had a couple of shows for adults with two great musicians, Marty Ballou and Rachel Panitch, and am looking forward to playing with them more. (Stone Soup Coffeehouse in RI on March 19th if you are close!) We’ll have some video up soon of some our songs. As someone who usually performs solo, it’s great to have others playing and singing with me. There’s a flexibility in being a solo performer, both in choice of what to do and how to do it that suits my improvisational tendencies, but when you play with others, something else wonderful happens, too. Apparently, I’m still trying to have everything!




It’s been a busy winter of reading, but mostly research for the writing I’m doing – several biographies of Frederick Olmstead and Black Elk. I should mention I’ve been very taken by Donald Worster’s Nature’s Economy – a history of environmental ideas – it’s beautifully written and has given me a lot to think about.  In addition, I really liked All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr and my re-reading of Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man by James Joyce. It’s still as good as I remember. Next up – Ulysses (eek).

From the Office

Name That Tune! Bill Writes It!


Years ago, we had a song title contest for our newsletter subscribers. WE got a lot of good suggestions, like "Because I Said So" and "Snake Loose in the Classroom". The winner, hands-down (the hands of the officials here at Round River Productions) was "Barbie’s Head is Missing".
So we’re trying it again.
Get together with your posse and send in titles of songs - we’ll choose a winner, and Bill will write the song.
Here are a few guidelines:

  • One word songs (like, "Pizza", or "Toenails") will not do it.
  • And neither will ones we’ve all heard of: "My Dog Ate My Homework". (Bill has already written "My Homework Ate My Dog")
  • Give Bill something to work with - something that immediately conjures up an idea, something that makes you laugh or think or both - maybe something you hear someone say everyday, like "I’m Not Going to Tell You One More Time", or something that combines things you wouldn’t expect, like, "My Grandmother Hunts for Worms". We don’t know. Just something that’s going to make a great song, even before it’s written.
  • Please refrain from gross bodily fluid song titles(ask your parents what that means)

Good luck!
We’ll let you know who wins.
Then Bill will get to work. He promised.

The Official Rules: How to Enter!  
  1. Think up a really good song title. And if you think up more than one, send those in too!
  2. Write it down and either have your adult email it to us at or snail mail it to: Round River Productions, Name That Tune!, 301 Jacob St, Seekonk, MA 02771
  3. Also include your name, your age, your email and your phone number.
  4. Make sure you get it to us by March 1, 2016 by midnight. The winner will be announced by March 3rd.

What do you get if you win? Besides getting to say you gave Bill Harley a really good song title? You get a Bill Harley CD of your choice and one of his Tee Shirts (also of your choice).

Let us know if you have any questions:

Webstore Updates  
We just wanted to let you know that we are doing some updates to our online store to make it work more efficiently. You can absolutely still order from us while this is going on, but we wanted to give you a heads up that construction is being done, so wear a hardhat while shopping. And contact us if you're uncertain if your order went through. Thanks!

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