STAN JAMES: May 20, 1935 - October 31, 2008

photo by Paul Dorpat

            Stan James, a Seattle folksinger from the early 1950s passed away at his cabin near Granite Falls. One of the mainstays of folk music in this area, he was one of a group of young folksingers who sang at the UN Pavilion during the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair. In 1962 he bought “The Place Next Door,” a coffeehouse in the Wallingford District, redecorated it and renamed it “The Corroboree.” It was one of the best coffeehouse folk venues in Seattle at that time.
          Stan, a ship builder, was involved in some of the early restoration of the Wawona, and lead many chantey sings at the NW Seaport on South Lake Union. He was the second president of the Seattle Folklore Society, and was active in the Seattle Song Circle. He will indeed be sorely missed!
                                                                  Stewart Hendrickson

More Pictures
Read the Mudcat Forum thread about Stan

An article by Percy Hilo about Stan, in his column 'Folking Around' reprinted from The Victory Review, August 2006, page 18.

Recordings from the Seattle World's Fair - 1962
Mermaid and the Skindiver - sung by Stan James (mp3)
Klondike- sung by Stan James (mp3)

Here's a link to Paul Dorpat's blog page with a rather moving reminiscence by Paul and some great video of Stan by Jean Sherrard. The video is also on YouTube here.

Recorded at Workshop at 2008 NW Folklife Festival
(excuse the noise and rough recording, it was a terrible room to record in)
The Overlander (sung by Stan James)
Ballad of Harry Pollitt (sung by Stan James)

Live recording of Stan singing with 'The Halibuts' (Stan James, Al Hirsch, Jon Pfaff) at Ivar Haglund's Seattle restaurant.
The Mermaid and the Skindiver
Run Clam Run
The Torredo
Cockles and Mussels
Ben Backstay

Watch videos of the Stan James Tribute Concert at the Northwest Folklife Festival, May 24, 2009.

From some of Stan's friends:

"Stan James, one of the anchors of Northwest folk music, has passed away. If you have been attending Northwest Seaport maritime music events, you will recall that he led the September NWS Chantey Sing along with Percy Hilo, and performed a concert last April as half of Halibut Stew, a duo whose material included Ivar Haglund songs. Stan had a memorable song about a mermaid and a diver that sounded like he was singing underwater, and a wealth of other songs and stories that no one could perform like him." - Alice Winship, NW Seaport

"Stan was a unassuming sort of fellow with great pipes. Whenever we had the chance to sing together in large groups I always tried to fit myself into the line near enough to hear him clearly. This business of having these voices go silent one by one is getting tiresome, but i guess there's no turning around. Just in case I don't get the chance to say it again to any or all of you yet another time, I love you." - John Sparrow

"This is very sad. Stan was a good friend. Last summer, when I was very broke, Stan invited me up to Granite Falls to help him do some paid work on his boats there. I found out that he rarely worked on them anymore due to his health, and was only doing this to help me out. While we were sanding in the focsle, he mentioned his conjestive heart failure problems and that if he ever got sick again, he wanted a definite Do Not Resusitate order on his chart, and no extraordinary means used to keep him alive. He wanted to go short and sweet; looks like he got his wish." - Wendy Joseph

"I met Stan at a hoot 51 years ago. Over the years we have sung together, drunk together, worked together and fought together. He was one of a kind. He had the most amazing ability to do outrageous things and still maintain friendships. Simply amazing! As I remember Stan, I still hear him singing "The Shining Birch Tree", "Bill Bluey", "Life Presents A Dismal Picture", "Gundergi", and hundreds of other songs. May he rest in peace." - Bob Nelson 

"My father was always up to something, whether learning Aikido from a Japanese master in Sasabo Japan before anyone had heard of it here, or starting a coffee shop when Starbuck was just a mate on the Pequad, or building a friendship sloop for the 1974 World's Fair, or being the president of the Folklore Society. I was blessed to be caught up in the storm that was his life and am better for it. My father had a zeal and enthusiasm that was infectious and a hunger to learn and experience all that could be. He taught me not to fear the unknown and to always trust myself. His songs inspired and educated me and his honesty and determination taught me not to back down. The community that the SFS provided was something that my father cherished. He got a great deal of inspiration and support from the community and from many of you individually over the years. I am thankful to have had Stan as my father and we were blessed to have the folklore society in our family." - Geoff W. James

"Some people are a force of nature, and by their very presence, have the ability to rearrange your molecules. Stan had that effect on people. I first met Stan in his home in 1978. He was sitting in his living room with several other guitar-toting folkies, singing The Mermaid and the Skin Diver. From the very moment I heard Stan sing, I was captivated. Over the years that I knew him, Stan became a friend and a mentor. In the past week, I have raised a glass or two to Stan, sung a few songs in his honor and introduced him to my New York friends. Today I played songs from the tribute website to my elementary school students. They stood around the computer with smiles, and before the end of The Mermaid and the Skin Diver, they were singing along with him. 'Wow' they said. 'He was somebody!' 'Yea, he was,' I replied." - Anita Rose (Merando)