Janie Meneely Sings the Bay Fantastic
About 25 years ago Janie Meneely began writing songs about the Chesapeake Bay, and she hasn't stopped yet. "There's still so much sing about," she says. Janie brings her songs and stories about Bay people, places and traditions to stages throughout the world.
"I grew up on the Annapolis [Maryland, USA] waterfront," Meneely says. "I can remember when the City Dock was jammed with workboats." Nowadays recreational boaters have replaced the sleek working vessels that hauled crabs, fish and oysters to markets around the Bay. "So many people come here now, to revel in what the Bay has to offer, but they have little knowledge of what used to happen here," Meneely continues. "They never got to sit around the liar's bench in a country store. They never got to watch a fleet of skipjacks dredge for oysters."
Her remedy for that is to write songs chronicling her own Bay experiences and capturing the stories she's heard over the years—either as a little girl hanging around her father’s boatyard, or during her professional stint as a journalist for Chesapeake Bay Magazine. From local ghosts to tragic shipwrecks, her songs bring to life some of the characters who add spice and color to Bay history.
Among her ditties is a song that recounts the tragic loss of life when the skipjack Claud W. Somers sank over thirty years ago in Tangier Sound. Beautifully restored, today the Claud W. Somers resides at the Reedville Fishermen's Museum dock and takes passengers for day sails into the river and back. But once the proud vessel was owned by Thompson Wallace, who dredged her out of Deal Island.
Janie Meneely's music offers audiences a glimpse of a rapidly disappearing way of life and invites them to join in on the chorus.
skipjacks : a sloop-rigged sailboat with vertical sides and a flat V-shaped bottom, used chiefly on the east coast of the US.