Janie Meneely began writing songs about the Chesapeake Bay in the 1980s. She’s been at it ever since. She has performed her songs and stories about Chesapeake people, places and traditions on stages around the world—and now she’s bringing them to Adkins Arboretum in a special all-ages Chesapeake Songs & Stories program on Sun., Sept. 10.
“Miss Janie” weaves a unique tapestry of tales and songs that bring to life some of the characters of a traditional waterman’s community. Born and raised on the Chesapeake, she remembers when the Annapolis City Dock was jammed with workboats 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 down on the docks,” she notes. Her remedy for that is to write songs that chronicle her own Bay experiences and capture the stories she’s heard over the years, whether as a little girl hanging around her father’s boatyard or during her professional career as a journalist.
Meneely has also spent time as a teacher, a sailmaker and a live-aboard sailor, always “on the listen” for a good story. From iconic lighthouses to tragic shipwrecks to the trials of Woolie Bear and his Bad Luck Underwear, her songs bring to life some of the characters who add spice and color to Chesapeake history. She is joined by her husband, Dutch-born guitarist Rob van Sante, who lends his knack for melodies and flair for vocal harmony to Meneely’s compositions. Together they deliver a lively and informative program suitable for ages 5 to 95.
Chesapeake Songs & Stories runs from 2 to 3 p.m. and is $10 for Arboretum members/$15 for non-members. Advance registration is required at adkinsarboretum.org or by calling 410-634-2847, ext. 100.
Adkins Arboretum is a 400-acre native garden and preserve at the headwaters of the Tuckahoe Creek in Caroline County. For more information, visit adkinsarboretum.org.