The Song Journal

Miscellaneous news and writing by Bob Franke, mostly about songs as a portable art form, and the process of creating them and enabling them to do their work in the world.

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Location: Peabody, Massachusetts, United States

from Bob Franke began his career as a singer-songwriter in 1965 while a student at the University of Michigan. Upon graduation in 1969 with an A.B. in English Literature, he moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, and has since made New England his home. Bob has appeared in concert at coffeehouses, colleges, festivals, bars, streets, homes and churches in 33 states, four Canadian provinces and England.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

My pre-dinner with Chuck, part two

Chuck Hall has posted the second part of our long conversation as a podcast from his web site. Part two focuses on songwriting practice and philosophy--if any of what I've written here has struck a chord, I recommend going over to Chuck's site, clicking on the podcast link, and having a listen.

Images from New Bedford

Denn Santoro took many photos at New Bedford Summerfest, including this one of Anne Hills and myself. You can see them at his gallery site here. It's always one of my favorite festivals of which to be a part, and Joan and I had a truly great time.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Community Software for Community Musicians update

My old Mepis machine having bit the dust (not a Mepis thing, more a Compaq hardware thing), I think it only fair to update my Linux situation. I'm currently running Ubuntu Dapper Drake on my low-end Dell. Its predecessor, Ubuntu Breezy Badger, was the easiest Linux install I've ever done; from there, I just upgraded via the simple instructions.

Meanwhile, being desirous of a working lightweight laptop and unwilling to pay for a new one, I rehabilitated my old HP Omnibook 800CT with Damn Small Linux. No USB ports or working CD-ROM on this thing, but by means of its old docking station I installed an entire Linux distribution to the hard drive via a 256MB USB thumb drive. This means that I have a tiny laptop with a 10" display with which I can do email and web browsing securely via wireless or ethernet (for both of which I had PC cards lying around). All my web radio streams are set up on this machine for use in any wireless situation as well. In my humble opinion, this is by far the best use one can make of a Pentium 166 MMX machine with 48MB of memory and a 2GB hard drive. When I'm home, it sits atop my stereo hooked up to its auxiliary input, serving web streams, my favorite new discoveries being Hober Internet Radio and The Internet Archive.

All this comes more or less free with your broadband connection, which is quite possibly insanely cheap (Verizon is selling DSL for about $15/mo in the Boston area at this point). All the help you need to put it together is on the web. You don't need a new machine to run Windows Vista. You don't even need a Mac (although you can run Linux on an old one). Buy an instrument instead--or, more realistically, pay off those energy bills...

Monday, July 03, 2006

My pre-dinner with Chuck

My pal Chuck Hall used to make his living as a DJ at WUMB-FM in Boston; the other day he, as he puts it, dusted off his radio chops and invited me over for recorded conversation to be distributed over the web as a podcast. Maybe it was because Chuck and I have known each other for so long, maybe it was because of his radio chops and the thoughtful questions he asked, but the time flew by, so much of it that he's decided to release the conversation in two segments. Part one is up on the web as I type this. If you've ever wanted to get to know me better, or to be a fly on the wall as folksingers talk about personal history, go to and click on the "podcast" button. With any luck, a nifty little flash player will come up and you'll have the opportunity to listen in. It ain't being on 60 Minutes with Barbara Walters, but I think Chuck did a better job with me than she would have done. It's nice to live in a world where I don't have to wait for Barbara's call to tell my story. Happy Independence Day to all.