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Bill Murlin

I’m a 30+ year member of PFS and have served many duties including Concert Committee, SingTime Frolics Committee and the board of directors, secretary and president.  Over the most recent 8 years, Sandy Bly my wife and I, along with the other team members rebuilt PFS concerts, creating a strong, self-sustaining program offering some of the best acoustic folk music talent available.  

I have played and sung folk music for more than 50 years since college days.  I’ve never strayed far from my roots in music from Appalachia and the folk revival of the 1960s and 70s.  Peter Yarrow and Tom Paxton influenced my guitar style. I developed my ear for harmony in church, Barbershop Chorus and from groups like Peter, Paul and Mary, the Chad Mitchell Trio and the Limelighters.  It was also stylings from the Kingston Trio and Pete Seeger that encouraged me to play the long-neck banjo.

Bill performs with Tom Paxton at the Florence, Oregon Winter folk Festival. 2015

Bill and Sandy at a
Vermont Library

My longest-lasting folk group was the Wanderers, formed in 1960, which remained active for 54 years.  My latest project is with the trio, Fine Company, which includes Ron Dalton and Jim Portillo, both of Seattle.  

I’ve long studied Woody Guthrie’s 30-day Northwest song-writing saga and have developed a recognized expertise on the subject.  In May 1941 Guthrie wrote 26 songs for the Bonneville Power Administration. Nearly half of them disappeared but I recovered all the songs and published them in 1987-88. I also located and published recordings of Guthrie playing and singing 17 of his Columbia River songs. Later I lead BPA’s creation of the Woody Guthrie Circle in front of the agency’s headquarters at Portland’s Lloyd Center.  In 2017 co-producer Joe Seamons and I headed a team of musicians in recording, for the first time, all 26 of Guthrie’s Columbia River songs. The album was issued by Smithsonian Folkways and the Murlin/Seamons team was nominated for a National Independent Music Award.

Bill Murlin, Bill Rose (center) Jim Portillo at Singtime Frolics

Sandy and I have taken our songs to song circles, camps and house concerts in Florida, Vermont and Tennessee. Bill Rose of Seattle and I sometimes play as the duo, The Unpaid Bills.  

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