Getting to know Janie

Scroll down to read Janie's Biography

Singer/songwriter Janie Meneely, was born and raised on the Chesapeake Bay, a magical estuary that lies mid-way up the eastern seaboard of the U.S. As a former liveaboard sailor and professional boating writer, she brings her nautical perspective to the world of folk music and storytelling.

Her music ranges from the raucous ruminations of ne’er-do-well mermaids to more thoughtful ballads about the people who make a living “working” the water. Her songs often evoke the woman’s perspective on the maritime industry. “Twiddles,” a turn-about tale on the “girl-in-every-port” theme, long ago moved into the folk tradition, popularized by chantey choirs and Ren Faire players on both sides of the Atlantic. Her clear vocals (you can understand the words!) and subtle guitar accompaniment are almost always framed by choruses the audience can join in on, making her concerts a fun gathering for all concerned.

Janie’s musical life began when she discovered Toadstool, a youth-run coffeehouse in her hometown of Annapolis, Maryland. Here she learned the ropes of production and performance, putting shows together and offering her own interpretations of traditional ballads. Here too, she first began singing her own songs, expressing typical teen-age angst to a wildly supportive crowd of friends. Such encouragement propelled her through college coffeehouses, where she managed to produce a new song every week—something that she wincingly declares was a trademark back then.

When she hit her mid-thirties, her focus shifted to the world of the Chesapeake Bay, and her songs began to chronicle the Bay’s people, places and history. Forming a folk group called Crab Alley with other Bay-inspired songsmiths, she doggedly began setting up waterfront concerts and festivals along the Chesapeake waterfront. Eventually the band split up, and Janie carried on as a solo, working primarily with school children, either sharing her Chesapeake songs and stories or encouraging the students to write their own.

When she hit 50, she began stretching her wings again, and with the encouragement of folk stalwarts like Bob Zentz and Geoff Kaufman, she began performing farther afield, eventually partnering with Maryland Renaissance Festival and Pyrates Royale veteran Paul DiBlasi. They called themselves Calico Jack (she was Calico Jenny) and played at the Mystic Seaport Music Festival, the Chicago Maritime Festival, the New Bedford Working Waterfront Festival—not to mention the Maryland Renaissance Festival and countless concerts.

Janie met Rob shortly after Paul died in 2013. It took a few years for their relationship to ‘gel,’ and they began actively touring in 2016. The highlight of their association has been the collaborative nature of their musical relationship, with Janie providing lyrics for Rob’s melodies and vice versa.

Primarily a wordsmith and vocalist, Janie can, when pressed, noodle on the guitar (standard tuning, please), toodle on the whistle or draw chords on the concertina.

She and Rob currently await the rising sea level from their home in Whitby on the coast of the North Sea.

Annapolis Maritime Museum
Mary Ostrye

Janie Meneely’s concerts are a perpetual crowd-pleaser at the Annapolis Maritime Museum’s Summertime Maritime Concert series. The music celebrates our heritage, our culture and our natural habitat, and the audience loves hearing this authentic Chesapeake Bay musician singing about the Bay with the Bay as a backdrop.

Folklore Society of Greater Washington
Mike Livingston

Janie Meneely has an exceptional ability to sing a vivid picture of a place— namely, the Chesapeake Bay, its distinctive sights and sounds and smells and history. You might never see a wooden skipjack, follow an osprey toward the sunset, or haul in a net full of oysters, but you can experience it through Janie's lyrics and lovely, powerful singing. And she won't let you forget for a moment that the history of the Bay is the history of maritime women.

Chesapeake Bay Magazine
Marty LeGrand

When Janie Meneely pics up her guitar and wraps her buoyant voice around a folk tune, she becomes a singer of people and places Chesapeake…. She draws an appreciative portrait of the Bay, it's farmiliar sights ("Thomas Point Light"), long ago tragedies ("Katie Allen") and whimsical characters ("Sweet Yellow Legs"). Like the Bay, the music never sits still for long….

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