Russ Franzen (Self-produced)
If you like to think of Pat Dailey as the Jimmy Buffett of the Great Lakes, perhaps you should consider Toledo's Russ Franzen as a Gordon Lightfoot equivalent.
A folk singer/songwriter schooled at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, Franzen has dabbled in radio, television, and the print media, and has worked as a Michigan probation officer, court administrator, and magistrate. His vocals and the timing of some lyrics can be a little raw at times, but he has an obvious comfort level and joy strumming his acoustic guitar and singing mostly original songs about Michigan and the Great Lakes.
Franzen brings warmth and affection in his ballads about lake boats, lighthouses, and shipwrecks — some of which have been in the news over the past year. And he hasn't forgotten about another one of his great loves, baseball. After having songs about the Detroit Tigers, Chicago Cubs, and Toledo Mud Hens on previous albums, Franzen performs a nice, cleverly written ditty about the 1948 Cleveland Indians on this disc.
You'll head north and hear about small port towns such as Alpena as your mind wanders off, but don't worry — Toledo is well-represented in song, too (the album starts off with one called "The Col. James M. Schoomaker," which tells the story of the Willis B. Boyer museum ship).
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