Issue: February 2005
Hearing Voices

The Voices of the Chesapeake Bay project spins off a new CD.

 

     Radio deejay and newspaper columnist Michael Buckley has spent the last four years documenting Chesapeake Bay life in his Voices of the Chesapeake Bay interview project. Along the way he’s kept an ear out for music about the Bay, and this compilation CD reflects the best of what he’s heard. You’ll find the likes of Tom Wisner and Magpie represented here, as well as musical luminaries like Tom Chapin and Bruce Hornsby. But even better are the tracks from musicians who aren’t as well known.

     Robbin Thompson, a heartthrob from the wilds of Virginia whose acoustic rock ‘n’ roll always pulls in a crowd of staunch admirers, is also a sailor who sings convincingly about the Bay in his piece “Chesapeake Moon”: Sailed under sunny skies, sailed in the pouring rain / And I’ve heard grown men cry in the eye of a hurricane / Never seen a light so strong make a man so weak / It’ll bring you to your knees when it’s shining on the Chesapeake.

     Bruce Myers of Baltimore is another veteran musician who spices up his repertoire with an occasional ditty about the Bay. His lively rendition of “Old Boats” conjures up just the right mix of imagery: Some old boats get broken up / Some old boats get burned / Some old boats get stripped for scrap / Some old boats get turned-into lawn ornaments.

     Annapolis fiddler Robin Jung and co-writer Dan Haas have a lot of fun with their birthday piece about the skipjack Stanley Norman. Fellow Annapolitan Mike Garfinkel takes us out “Rockfishin’.”  Them Eastport Oyster Boys chime in with “Marina, Marina,” their paean to the vagaries of radioing ahead for a slip reservation. Deanna Dove of North Beach, Md., locks her memories of idyllic summer days on the Bay into a light rock ballad.

     The two bonus tracks are icing on the cake. The CD is worth every nickel of the $15 price just for the snippet of the late Earl White, former mate aboard the Stanley Norman, talking about hitting some weather at the mouth of the Chester River and then banging into “Baltimore Rag.” And a Tilghman Island threesome, Bunkie, David and Jason Miller, close things out with a fine little lament by Ed Klein about the passing of the good old days: I’m just a waterman, a Chesapeake working man / Out here trying to earn a buck / I’m just a working man, a Chesapeake waterman / Can’t you see I’m down on my luck?

     For those beginning to build a library of Chesapeake “roots music,” this is one for the pile. Proceeds go to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Chesapeake Bay Trust, Living Classrooms Foundation and the Maryland Watermen’s Association. Look for it at www.voicesofthechesapeakebay.org. Or preview it live at the Admiral Earl White Memorial Songs of the Chesapeake Bay Concert, February 10 at 7:30 p.m. at the Rams Head Tavern in Annapolis (410-268-4545) or Songs of the Chesapeake Bay Concert, February 13 at 3 p.m. at the Avalon Theatre in Easton, Md. (410-822-7299).