How do you measure a hit song? In the pop world, it’s easy: you count how high it got on the charts, how many units it sold. In folk music, it’s more complicated. You ask how far it’s traveled, how long it’s lasted, and most of all, how many people have taken it into their own lives, made it their own song?
By those ancient measures, Bob Franke (rhymes with “Yankee”) is among the most prolific and important folk songwriters to emerge since the commercial revival of the 1960s. Many of his songs, like “Hard Love,” “For Real,” “Thanksgiving Eve,” and “The Great Storm Is Over,” have entered the American folk canon, frequently sung by major stars and open-mikers, church choirs and summer campers, recovering addicts at treatment centers, and spiritual seekers at religious retreats.
“There is an affection for Bob’s work that is really palpable,” says Noel Paul Stookey, of Peter, Paul and Mary. “It’s like everybody thinks that they’re the one who discovered him – and they’re all right! People know he has given them something rare and powerful, real and uncompromising. I have felt a lot of power in the appreciation people have for him.”
Peruse the stars who have recorded Franke’s songs, and you find singers renowned as champions of the very best songwriters: Peter, Paul and Mary, June Tabor, Kathy Mattea, Tony Rice, Martin Simpson, John McCutcheon, Sally Rogers, Garnet Rogers, Claudia Schmidt, and David Wilcox. When ABC’s Nightline asked Alison Krauss to name her favorite songs, she cited Franke’s “Hard Love,” calling it “probably my favorite tune,” and saying Franke was her hero and “main inspiration.”
But that just scratches the surface of how far Franke’s songs have traveled. His lyrics appear on church marquees and tombstones; his songs are sung at weddings, funerals, and christenings, and appear in the hymnals of several denominations. They are used as templates in songwriter classes, and meditations at seminars for people struggling with real life crises like grief, addiction, divorce, and domestic abuse. People have told Franke that his songs saved their lives.
Oone of New England’s clearest and most distinctive folk voices, with unusually piercing lyrical insight…” – Hartford Courant
Folksinger for our times – The Boston Herald
one of New Englands first and brightest stars. – The Boston Globe
Folk singer/songwriter Lui Collins has been performing, writing and recording for over 40 years, her early Philo and Green Linnet recordings earning international acclaim and establishing her as a respected voice in the folk world. Lui has shared the stage with such notables as Pete Seeger, Bonnie Raitt, Stan Rogers, Dar Williams, and John Gorka. Renowned guitarist Dave van Ronk called her one of the best guitarist-arrangers I have heard in years.
Lui sings my songs better than I do.
– Canadian folk icon Stan Rogers
From playful 4-string arrangements of some favorite original songs, to the fabulous jazz chords in American standards and bossa nova, Lui translates her rich and complex guitar arrangements onto her tenor ukulele to create something unexpected and delightful.
“Lui has a gentle way of capturing the hearts of her audience and having what amounts to a musical conversation with them during her performances No one weaves a spell quite like she can.” Champlain Valley Folk Festival Newsletter