Bob Franke

Years at Winfield: 

Bob Franke is at the peak of his considerable craft; brimming with the wise and spiritually generous songs for which he is best known, along with wrenchingly convincing topical songs and sugared with the hilarious. His songs are the kind of songs that really do have the power to change the world by being taken into the lives of people. His songs come to you! Tom Paxton says, "He has integrity. I think of him as if Emerson and Thoreau had picked up acoustic guitars an gotten into songwriting ... and too there's touches of Mark Twain and Buddy Holly in there."

The Michigan native really caught the songwriter bug while attending the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor. He became heavily involved in the legendary folk club Canterbury House in its late 60s heyday. Because it was both a coffeehouse and an Episcopal student ministry, the passions that still guide his life and work hit him at once.

After college, Franke briefly flirted with joining the Episcopal priesthood, spending a long, awful year studying at a Cambridge divinity school. Its only up-side was that it moved him and his wife, Christine, to New England and further convinced him that his future lay in songwriting.

Franke's songs earned him enough attention that he was able to become a full-time performer in 1988. His community focused, determinedly non-commercial values continue to guide his prolific unconventional career. He has written liturgical services for Epiphany and Good Friday that are regularly performed at churches around the country.

All his songs are fueled by Franke's deep Christian faith and by the real-life lessons folk music has taught him; both from its proud, hard history and from his own 25 years playing everywhere from grand concert halls to rude streetcorners. Bob has appeared in concert at coffeehouses, colleges, festivals, bars, streets, homes and churches in 30 states, four Canadian provinces and England. His tours are treasured for their craft and compassion.

His concerts have appeared in lists of the top five musical events of the year chosen by critics in the Boston and San Francisco Bay areas. In 1990, he was nominated as an Outstanding Folk Act by the Boston Music Awards.

Franke's songs are attractive to other voices, and particularly to expert singers such as Peter, Paul and Mary; David Wilcox; John McCutcheon; Sally Rogers; Lui Collins; Garnet Rogers and June Tabor just to name a few. Seasoned veterans and novices alike are drawn to the complex, warm-hearted spirituality and captivatingly clear-cut melodies of Franke's songs. He is simply, one of the best.