Annapolis Maritime Museum / 723 Second St / Annapolis, MD 21403
Contact: Jeff Holland / 410-295-0104
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – March 7, 2012
What: Calico Jack releases new CD at Annapolis Maritime Museum, March 31
When: Saturday, March 31, 2012
Time: 7 – 9 p.m.
Tuition: $15 in advance; $20 at the door
Where: Annapolis Maritime Museum, 723 Second Street, Annapolis, MD 21403
Calico Jack, the duo comprised of Bay songsters Janie Meneely and Paul DiBlasi,
offers up their new CD “Living by the River” at the Annapolis Maritime Museum, March 31
“Big Liz haunts the Greenbriar Swamp, way down deep in the cold and damp . . .” so sings Paul DiBlasi in a song about the Eastern Shore’s “favorite ghost.” In no time Janie Meneely, DiBlasi’s partner in the Bay folk group Calico Jack, is chiming in with her own take on the enigmatic phantom, “Boozie Parks headed home one night, bottle in hand, he was liquored up tight . . .” Lo and behold, he meets up with Big Liz, and the encounter has serious consequences: “Boozie ain’t touched no liquor since!” The ditty about Big Liz is one of a baker’s dozen on their new Calico Jack album, “Living by the River,” which will be presented at a CD release concert at the Annapolis Maritime Museum on Saturday, March 31, from 7 to 9 p.m.
Filled with lore culled from a lifetime adrift on the Chesapeake, Living by the River is the latest in a string of Calico Jack albums celebrating the maritime history, characters, and traditions of the Chesapeake Bay. “There’s so much to sing about the Bay,” says songwriter Janie Meneely who penned all but two of the album’s 13 tracks. “We’re trying to preserve the traditions and stories of the watermen and their communities, and what better way to do it than by creating songs that carry the history forward.’
“So many people have moved to the Chesapeake region from far-away places,” Meneely continues, “and they have no idea what a skipjack is. They haven’t heard the stories told around the liar’s bench in an Eastern Shore country store.” Meneely tries to capture the essence of those moments in her songs, whether she’s retelling ghost stories or describing a workday aboard an oyster dredger, “freezin’ our butts off on Chesapeake Bay.” Ultimately, she says, she hopes Calico Jack’s music kindles an appreciation of the Bay and its traditions.
Living by the River begins with Susquehanna Suzy, a song about a boater falling in love with the boat of his dreams: “Susquehanna Suzy, she’s my sweet patootie . . .” From the there the songs range from celebrations of local landmarks—Reedville, Virginia’s storied “tall stack” that stands high over the Reedville harbor, for example, and an ode to South County—to the haunting Ballad of Berkeley Muse, the last fatality of the Bay’s fabled Oyster Wars or the dramatic tale of a lighthouse keeper’s rescue of a crew from a sinking tugboat. More lighthearted elements of the album include the title track, which extols the virtues of the waterfront: “Living by the river is something easy, green grass growing, bending in the breeze, and everyone everywhere take their ease as the sun goes hunkering down. . .”
For people who remember Meneely from the folk group Crab Alley, the album also includes remakes of Ladies of the Bay (by Dodie Welsh Parris), Morning Watch and The Devil and St. Pete.
Meneely is joined on stage by her real-life partner, singer and guitarist Paul DiBlasi. A former member of the colorful Pyrates Royale, DiBlasi’s mellow baritone adds a full-throated gusto to the duo’s mix. Most importantly, he gives voice to the watermen Meneely so often sings about, adding a level of authenticity that Meneely’s full-throated soprano lacks. Sometimes serious, sometimes saucy, Calico Jack presents eelgrass music at its best.
Calico Jack’s CD release will be held on Saturday, March 31 at the Annapolis Maritime Museum, located at 723 2nd Street, Annapolis, MD 21403. The program will run from 7 to 9 p.m. Admission is $15 for advance tickets, $20 at the door. For more information or to make reservations, contact the museum at (410) 295-0104 or go to the museum website at www.amaritime.org.