An artistic fusion of music and craftsmanship. 


Rick Stanley is an award-winning singer/songwriter/guitarist/folk harpist and harpmaker. These days he designs and builds custom folk harps and performs the music of his celtic roots. Rick started singing in the coffee houses of Boston, New York and the West Coast where he was signed by Columbia Records. Producer Terry Melcher, who made the magic of the "Byrds" hit albums, took on the role of manager and producer to Rick and Pam Polland, "The Gentle Soul."

Gentle Soul"The Gentle Soul" made the charts with two singles, "Tell Me Love," written by Rick and "She's a Flying Thing that Sings" by one-time member of "The Gentle Soul," Jackson Browne. The album, on the Epic label, was called "Most beautiful…album of the year" by Billboard, the top trade magazine for the music industry. Rick has worked or recorded with some of the most talented musicians in the business: Linda Ronstadt & Kenny Edwards, Ry Cooder, the Beach Boys, Glen Campbell, Al Kooper, Jackson Browne, Steven Stills and many others. The next decade found Rick living in Europe and touring the world, performing in venues from pubs to the palaces of Emperor Haille Selassie and the King of Nepal. All the while, Rick was writing the songs for two more highly acclaimed albums recorded at A&M Studios in L.A. with Joni Mitchell's talented producer, Henry Lewy.

Gentle Soul - Album coverYears before the recent Celtic renaissance, Rick recorded a powerful album of some of his favorite Scots, Irish and English ballads and a few of his originals called On English Hills. Rick is a world-class guitarist, he's worked with some of the best, like Ry Cooder and Glenn Campbell, but once he started singing with a Celtic harp Rick found the perfect accompaniment for his rich vocals.

In his consistently creative lifestyle he became fascinated, No! Obsessed with the Irish/Scottish harp and not only studied with some of the best harpers (the Ratigan sisters, Máire Ní Chathasaigh, William Jackson and others) but in consummate Stanley style he studied how to design and build his newfound objects of love. Rick's formative years were not only filled with music, he was also apprentice to a master cabinetmaker who was one of the last hand tool builders. The last decade has been dedicated to creating masterpieces out of wood, glue and consciousness and, of course, an equal amount of his time has been given to mastering the accompaniment of his ballads and original songs with his hand built harps.

Of course he still loves to play the guitar but it's amazing how quiet a noisy Renaissance Faire or Celtic Festival becomes when Rick and his harp start to sing. In 2002 he finished recording The Ballad of Bothwell and Marie, a CD filled with what he considers some of the most beautiful Scottish & Irish songs in the Celtic tradition, accompanying his heart piercing voice with his beautiful Celtic harps and guitar. This CD also features some of Rick's best original songs, written in Celtic traditional style. His Masters in English Literature and creative writing have made it easier for him to create songs that are historically accurate as well as beautiful. The CD also features Master Cellist Daniel Sperry.

In the wooded hills of Van Buren county Rick lives with his wife Claudine, working in his studio making beautiful harps and composing new music.

Home of, the quite, rolling hills of Van Buren County, Iowa


The Iowa Arts Council selected Rick Stanley to receive the 2002 Regional Arts Build Communities Traditional Folklife Award for his achievements in the field of folklore. Rick has preserved the ancient harper-balladeer tradition of communicating stories through song and music.






  • The Ballad of Bothwell & Marie, self-produced, 2001. Traditional and contemporary Celtic Ballads on harp, guitar and cello.

  • On English Hills, self-produced, 1983. Traditional Irish, Scottish and English Ballads on guitar, penny whistle, hammered dulcimer, highland pipes.

  • In the Golden Dome, produced by Mac Gayden at Broken Door Studio, Nashville, 1980. Rick Stanley on guitar and vocals, Buddy Spicher on fiddle, and Biff Watson.

  • Something Good is Happening, produced by Henry Lewy at A&M Records, 1972. Beautiful new age music written and performed by Rick Stanley and The Loading Zone's Paul Fauerso.

  • Song of Life, produced by Henry Lewy at A&M Records, 1970. Original new age music with Rick on guitar and vocals and Paul Horn on flute.

  • Gentle Soul, produced by Terry Melcher, Columbia Records, released on Epic label, 1969. Rick Stanley on vocals and guitar, Pam Polland-vocals, Ry Cooder-guitar and mandolin, and Van Dyke Parks-keyboard.

See Rick's music page.


  • The Troubadour (CA)
  • The Golden Bear (CA)
  • Club 47 Mt. Auburn (MA)
  • Milwaukee Irish Fest (WI)
  • Amherst College (performed w/The Beach Boys and Mac Gayden to 5,000+ audience)
  • MIT and other colleges throughout the US
  • Mallorca, Spain; Fuji, Italy; Germany (2,000+ audiences)
  • Renaissance Faires:
  • Wybreg Renaissance Faire, 1999, 2000, Bonaparte, IA
  • All Things Scottish CelticFest, 2001, Cedar Rapids, IA
  • House concerts, weddings

See Rick's performance schedule.



The famous Tara harp was delivered yesterday (Fri) afternoon, per schedule, and arrived in fine shape. The ALG people had done their job well: no dents; your shipping case was fine. So were your instructions for opening. I did it as you said (including your further guidance on laying it on its side and gradually working off the case) and it worked very well. I'm reporting this for future reference, regarding your upcoming shipments to other clients.

And the harp is just great--just what I've always wanted, and better. The feet went on easily and just right. I love the carved feet. Worth the effort. So many builders today, if they carve the feet at all, will do only the front ones with the excuse that the back ones need to just be straight blocks for purposes of solidly balancing the harp when it is tipped back for playing. But this harp balances just fine on its carved back feet. And I love that carved tuning key!

The string-spacing is just right. So is the tension. Couldn't be better. I really appreciate the structural things you've done so well: That extra rib down the back of the shell, the reinforcing of the neck at the joints, etc. The levers are dead on--I checked each one late last evening. I realize there is always the possibility of some needing a little adjustment after a time. But you've got 'em right.

The tone is already beautiful and improving by the hour. I recognize it will take a week or two to settle down and hold the tuning again, and ripen the voice. But it's clearly beautiful.

Fine carving--really handsome, and precisely executed. I have some sense of the time and patience this represents.

Thank you too for the painting on the soundboard. That's just the design I wanted. I'm sorry I gave you some trouble over the color. As it is, I think you made the right decision. This will still show nicely if/as the cherry darkens a little.

It's not easy to get cherry to take a stain without looking smeary. You've succeeded well. The little bubbles on the bubble-wrap left a very slight record on the finish--perhaps because I had to prolong its time in the warehouse by a few days. Only very slightly visible, and only in certain light and viewing-angle. I expect a touch of Pledge or something (kept carefully away from strings and levers) will take care of it.

I've put the little red and blue rings on the tuning-pegs and the lever handles, that Dusty Strings sells. (Got mine from Sylvia Woods' Harp Center here in Glendale.) They're a real help--I especially recommend them on the pegs. Appreciate the installed amplification pickup. The volume is such that I would seldom need amplification. But eventually I'll buy a connector-cable to go into that jack in the back. I guess the plug should be monaural, yes? Was there any other info with the electronics that I should know?

And, at your convenience, that string-list. This beautiful and professional-quality instrument represents a considerable chunk of your life in 2006, Rick. As the years go by, I will always be grateful to you for what you have put into it. You can take great pride in such workmanship.

Someday I hope we can meet in person--would welcome a reunion with your harp if you're ever in California. Meanwhile, I'll enjoy your CD's -- and your newsletter?

Please do use my name as a reference for anyone who is considering one of your products, Rick. I'll be happy to oblige.

With great appreciation,