Bob Franke
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Bob Franke

Band Folk Singer/Songwriter


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"Larry Kelp review"

"While fans from Claudia Schmidt to June Tabor may have...incredible taste in picking songs...when they sing Massachusetts-based Bob Franke's tunes, neither they nor anyone else can come close to the emotional (and spiritual) depth Franke brings to his understated songs of the heart, from 'Hard Love' to 'The Great Storm Is Over'. He continues also to dig into Robert Johnson's blues, and songs that offer hilarious uses of everything from bicycle repair to computers as metaphors for sex. In the folk singer-songwriter realm, Franke is simply the best."

Express, Berkeley, California
- Express, Berkeley, California

"The Other Evening In Chicago (2005)"

“Bob Franke is hereby enshrined into the pantheon of singer-songwriters whose music will resonate far beyond his mortality and be meaningfully enjoyed by generations. The twin lures of this recording are experiencing a Franke concert and, for the very first time, a collection of his marvelous artistry. This CD is an ABSOLUTE MUST HAVE.” - --Kevin McCarthy, Kevin’s Celtic and Folk Music CD Reviews

"The Desert Questions review"

"[The Desert Questions] is possibly his most musically exciting record and finest vocal performance. ...The ballads about the collapse of a marriage at midlife are devastatingly vivid, a different mood from the romantic brooding found in youthful love-gone-wrong songs. He spells them with hopeful anthems and smart, goofball humor... - Boston Globe


Love Can't Be Bitter All The Time (1976, Fretless 116)
For Real (1986, Flying Fish FF90368)
Brief Histories (1989, Flying Fish FF70495/90495)
In This Night (1991, Flying Fish FF70563/90563)
The Heart of the Flower (1995, Daring DR3016)
Long Roads, Short Visits (1997, Daring CD 3031)
The Desert Questions (2001, Telephone Pole)
The Other Evening In Chicago (2005, Waterbug WBG66)
Many tracks on folk streaming media and radio; songs covered by Peter, Paul and Mary, Kathy Mattea, June Tabor and many more.


Feeling a bit camera shy


In September, 1965, an 18-year-old songwriter took third place at the Ann Arbor State Street Hootenanny Contest. Soon after, when a new coffeehouse called the Ark opened its doors for the first time, that same young kid regaled the audience from the stage with new songs he had written, unlike anything they had ever heard before. Thus began a career spanning 40 years, countless new songs, nine albums, thousands of concerts on two continents and hundreds of thousands of fans around the world.

Bob Franke (it rhymes with “Yankee”) is now known to many as “the singer/songwriter’s singer/songwriter.” "A standard of songs that most writers can only dream about and admire in drop-jawed silence" is the way Folk Roots magazine (England) describes Bob’s songs. As Tom Paxton says of Franke, “It’s his integrity. I always think of Bob as if Emerson and Thoreau had picked up acoustic guitars and gotten into songwriting. There’s touches of Mark Twain and Buddy Holly in there, too.”

When Bob stands on a festival, concert hall or coffeehouse stage, he performs concerts that are warm, thoughtful, humorous and enlightening, accompanying his rich, baritone voice on guitar and National Steel guitar. “Franke had the whole hall in his hands .... [His] warm voice has the magic of an inviting personality that makes instant friends with everyone who hears it” (The Tribune - Oakland, CA).

Bob’s songs have taken on a life of their own. Many are considered classics, fueled by the real-life lessons taught to him in 40 years of performing in community coffeehouses, concert halls and festivals from coast to coast. Renowned artists such as Peter, Paul and Mary; Kathy Mattea; David Wilcox; John McCutcheon; Sally Rogers; Lui Collins; Garnet Rogers; June Tabor and dozens more sing and record Bob’s music. Seasoned veterans and novices alike are drawn to the complex, warm-hearted spirituality and captivating melodies of Bob’s songs. The songs have escaped the walls of the concert hall and can be heard in schoolyards, church pews, at marriages and funerals. His lyrics have been spotted on church marquees and on the tombstones of loved ones ... so strongly have those lyrics touched people’s hearts.

Bob has received industry awards and widespread recognition for his work. In 1990, he was nominated as Outstanding Folk Act by the Boston Music Awards. Again, in 2003, he was selected as one of the Top 100 Best Folk Performers of the last 20 years by WUMB of Boston. In 1990, Bob was commissioned by the ODC Dance company of San Francisco to write a series of songs for their ballet “The Velveteen Rabbit” -- a ballet they continue to perform to this day. Over the course of several years beginning in the late 80’s, Bob wrote a series of cantatas, hymns and anthems in his role as Composer in Residence at St. Andrews Episcopal Church of Marblehead (MA). 2005 marks the 25th anniversary of performance of Bob’s Good Friday Cantata at St. Andrews. In 1985, Bob was commissioned by the city of Salem (MA) to write a series of songs documenting the history of Salem, a project that resulted in the recording “Brief Histories”. In 1996, he wrote a Harvest Cantata for the Marblehead Eco-Farm, later released as “Marblehead Grows”. In 1999, Bob was asked to be Artistic Director of the Singer/Songwriter Project of the Bethlehem Steel Festival. Also in that year, author Ellen Wittlinger published a young-adult novel called “Hard Love” (Simon & Schuster, 1999), incorporating Bob’s song of that name and creating for him a whole new fan base in middle schools and high schools across the country.

Bob (when he isn’t writing or touring) leads workshops in songwriting that are described by the participants as “transcendent” In two decades of teaching, Bob has honed to an art his two-to-five day classes for adults, high school and college students. They include songwriters (and songwriter wannabes), music students, English students, creative writing students ... students of all backgrounds and all levels of experience. He is in great demand at music camps throughout the country. People will travel great distances to learn the art of songwriting from the master.

Bob has recorded nine albums to critical and popular acclaim. Two of his songs appear in the top ten of the WERS-FM (Boston) 1988 poll of all-time favorite folk songs. Four of his songs can be found in the ever-popular music guide “Rise Up Singing.” Bob’s song “Thanksgiving Eve” was chosen as one of the Top 50 Songs of the Century by SingOut! Magazine. “Brief Histories” was named one of the ten best albums of 1989 by Boston Globe critic Scott Alarik and nominated as an Outstanding Folk Album by the 1990 Boston Music Awards. “In This Night” was named #1 Acoustic Recording of 1991 by WUMB-FM (Boston) and nominated as Outstanding Folk Album by the 1992 Boston Music Awards. Bob’s first Daring release, “The Heart of the Flower”, was named one of the Boston Globe’s top ten folk albums of