banded stilts

banded stilts

 Halifax, Nova Scotia, CAN

banded stilts, n. pl.
1. a gathering of poles each with a support for the foot at some distance above the bottom end, enabling the wearer to walk with his/her feet above the ground.
2. plump-bodied birds, with long orange or pink legs and unique band across the breast. They gather in small parties.


Banded Stilts' are a alternative-folk band that play unique singer-songwriter tunes backed by a folk ensemble of man- dolin, banjo, violin, keys, guitars and drums. The sometimes odd lyrics, beautiful melodies, folk styling and storytelling narratives of lead singer/songwriter Steve Haley appeal to young and old alike. Banded Stilts made their live performance debut at Halifax's "In the Dead of Winter" Music Festival, followed shortly thereafter by an ECMA showcase, a 6 song EP release, a subsequent Canadian tour and showcases at Halifax POP Explosion, Stereophonic Music Festival and the 2012 ECMA's. The band is currently back in the studio recording their debut LP.

"By the Back Stair tells Canadian stories driven by honesty, broken hearts, and the freedom of youth… authenticity shines through" - Herohill

"Banded Stilts reach back to the grand old folk traditions within a contemporary alt-roots sound" -

[Banded Stilts have] "an introspective edge, Neil Young straightforwardness (and harp) and woodsy imagery that indicates time spent with Bon Iver and Great Lake Swimmers albums". -NOW Magazine

"Great music to play after a long day. It’s comforting and warm, kind of like curling up with a blanket and a good book". - Grayowl Point


the woods look different at night

Written By: steve haley

it was in may twilight, we ran to a forest
where we thought we'd spend the night
then came flying creatures
we had to fend them off with our cigarettes
set the grass alight

eyes can drift discreetly, take you off your guard
leave you for the night collector
he will dress you up
fatten you, fill your cup
get you ready for the winter

it gets tiresome, now i'm overwhelmed
this isn't what I'm like
it gets lonesome hanging on to bones
swinging at nocturnal eyes

ashy, blackened skin
a dank and musty wind
confirmed what we had thought
that we had to be dreaming
or flying pretty high
to believe our deserved lot

take heed

Written By: steve haley

i keep wishing
for someone to come whistling
down the trail
just drifting on his own
maybe i'll see my own reflection
in his eyes
and i won't hear what he says to me

when he says
"don't go that way
your mother won't forget your face
so just turn around
go back the way you came"

mountain retreat

Written By: steve haley

we found our own way down
from the mountain side
we didn't turn around
until it was out of sight
when we had time to stop
and catch our weary breath
we couldn't fill our lungs
because the guilt had sunken in

i won't go
back for the ones we left behind
you said "so
do we just leave them there to die?"
we won't know unless we're all willing to try
or grow old
have to live with it all our lives

into the dark unknown
where anything can happen
and you always feel alone
even though you're surrounded by
footsteps, breathing and moans
and furry creatures
stomping your feet on bones
you cross your fingers

along the way

Written By: steve haley

the moon casts faint shadows
upon the trails i walk
along the way
i am stiff and tired in every bone
i've walked this road ten thousand times or more

the river runs beside me
like a friend i've met
along the way
rushing towards the great ocean unknown
where it has always been free to roam

the trees are bigger than a house
my back gave out
along the way
i had to ask my brother for a loan
he teases like it's thirty years ago
but it's not thirty years ago

shadows on the town

Written By: steve haley

when all the chatting stops
we'll pack it up and move it someplace else
the mountains cull me back again
we'll give and take away
but we cannot save it all just for ourselves
i dreamt i heard this all from you

we laughed to see
our shadows on the town below
and we wept to see
it all just go to waste, ruined debris

the rain washes my skin
i breathe it in and step under a tree
the clouds are smothering the sky
i catch a glimpse of you
and what you want to do and now i'm spiralling
into the stillness of your eye

i loved the heat
your body gave under the covers
and you felt deceit
drown you in its fiery, flaming sea

the water's company

Written By: steve haley

i never knew
which lake were you
surrounded by birdsong?
your lapping waves
gesturing at me
"don't worry we don't bite"

"but neither does
anything else," i responded hungrily
the water blushed
as the sun began its climb
towards the sky

embarrassed by
its rude
on a breeze
it gently said
"take anything you want

but be sure
to reap what you sow
i'd like to share
a meal with you
like i've shared so many before

the water's
company is very secretive
and after much thought
i took initiative
and introduced myself

when you're in the dreaming

Written By: Steve Haley

When you’re in the dreaming,
Boy, you aren't in your head.
Closer to a place you might go when you are dead.
So take this knife and put it in your tiny, little hands.
When you see him face to face remember what I said.

In between these places blows a bitter wind.
In the closet void where people hang their sins
Each and every night

When you’re in the dreaming,
Girl, be careful who you talk to.
Your eyes see things you can’t believe and your legs carry you
To places you would never venture under the will of the sun
And he’s always just behind you, no matter how fast you run.

the squid and the ghost town

Written By: Steve Haley

The wind from the south blew in today.
It was the sweetest thing.
The smell of the sea was on it and the ocean is my wallet so, we’re gone again.
On the water for three weeks, when we returned the sky was bleak and grey as fog. Nobody was to be seen like we returned to a city populated by no one but ghosts.

Who acted less than discreet
As they floated in the air
And we rummaged through the streets
To find them waltzing in the square

We shouted and we screamed at nearly all of them,
But no one even turned their heads.
We stared into the eyes of friends; they didn’t even comprehend
As they danced to a song.
The dancing scared the shit out of me.
I flashbacked to a night at sea when something did the same.
Two rubbery arms from blackest deep surrounded and devoured me
And my only son and my oldest ship.

We sank into the deep.
It didn’t take long to lose air,
While they awoke from their sleep and began waltzing in the square.
In their bedclothes and bare feet;
In their tossed and messy hair.
They were dancing in the street;
They were waltzing in the square.

thief in the night

Written By: Steve Haley

Unlike the fiery blaze
That I see in front of me my light has been extinguished
And I sit with this broken daze upon my face,
Disbelieving all of the nightmares I have witnessed.
Will you cover my staring eyes and
Cover me in dark of night when all I hear are gunshots
And the sound of my brothers cries?
We can say the worst is over but we know that darkness follows after light.

I’ll run like a thief in the night.
I’m told the way I feel isn’t right.
You fight with a heart made of stone
But I won’t, no. No, I won’t go.

Sleep in the mud again.
It covers me from head to toe: my mouth, my eyes, my face and ears.
So that I can pretend
That I’m an ancient Mongol born to do these grievous deeds.
Will you violently put me down
Like a rabid dog who knows what it does and who it’s hurting?

dolls' eyes

Written By: Steve Haley

I saw you lying face down in the ashy grey snow.
You weren’t on your way out but you were so very cold.
So, I thawed you by the fire, singed and burnt off your hair.
I tried my best with glue and sewing needle to repair.

But your eyes, well they frightened me away.
It was as if they were trying to say "leave me alone.”
So I fled to the top of the stairs and left you lying there all on your own.

When a day or two passed and you hadn’t moved an inch,
I threw small objects at you and I poked you with a stick.
When I finally got the courage to pick you up in my arms,
Your cat-green eyes flashed open and I dropped you in alarm.

But the fire, that I had stoked minutes before,
Was begging like an open door to let you in.
So, I kicked you into your fiery grave
That burnt and melted every part of you save your eyes.


two steps in the dark (2009)

Two steps in the dark was recorded in a snow covered town in an echoey dining room and is a dark blend of song and stories about ghosts, witches, wars, dolls and dreams.

Brad Lannon played mandolin and bass on this album and recorded it easily and wonderfully.

birdsong (2010)

Birdsong is an observation of nature. If we could decipher the unique and astonishing calls of songbirds, if we could translate their melodic language into words, what stories would they tell? People have been wandering beyond tree lines and into the depths of the woods for a long time. Workers working, watchers watching, runners running and waiters waiting. These songs are the snippets and stories of the people and creatures who exist in the forests around us.

"By the Back Stair" EP (2011)

By The Back Stair" was recorded with Don Mackay at Spaces Between Studios in Halifax, NS, March 2011.

released 09 June 2011

Steve Haley - guitar, piano, harmonica, vocals
Brad Lannon - mandolin, piano, vocals
Marc Fagan - guitar, banjo, vocals
Travis Hatcher - bass and vocals
Reid Shepherd - percussion and vocals

Set List

forest, oh forest, protect me
full swing
the owls
anything with legs
flee into the autumn dark
the woods look different at night
take heed
mountain retreat
along the way
when you're in the dreaming
the squid and the ghost town
thief in the night
dolls' eyes
a ghost, or my shadow
you tried to give your heart away
wading bird