Robin Jung Springs onto the Scene
by Paula Anne Delve Phillips
Robin Jungs star rises twice this week in Chesapeake Country. By day, Jung plays research biologist with the US Geological Survey. By night, she joins perennially new-sound-seeking guitarist Rob Levit in a new group freshened by her soothing vocal tones. You can hear Rob Levit/Robin Jung Folk-Jazz Fusion on March 28 at 49 West.
Then, on April 4, Jung joins Levit and a Bay Friendly union of musicians at Rams Head in the Voices of the Chesapeake Bay Benefit Concert.
Either night, what youll hear is a musical voice that makes a lasting impression on the ear.
Jung and Levit made such a good first impression at their Valentine Day debut at 49 West that tickets for both shows sold out. Overly optimistic drop-ins crammed into the corners. Early birds with reservations heard some great music, including standards, original tunes and some banjo treats at the hands of top-notch talent.
Frank Russo keeps time for the four-piece group. His sweetly tuned drums are usually played in his own quartet or with other jazz players since he left the United States Naval Academy, where he played in the band. His playing reminds us that drums are meant to make music not loud noise. Stand-up bass and banjo player Mark Schatz known for his Nashville licks and long career accompanying the likes of Bela Fleck and Tim OBrien contributes to the rhythmic framing.
Increasingly, Jung is using her voice on behalf of the creatures she studies in the natural world.
For two years, she has been the voice of Watershed Radio, a daily public service minute playing the airwaves of nearly a dozen radio stations in Maryland, Virginia and New York, often during morning or evening drive-time. Each focuses on some aspect of the Bay: plants, animals, ecology or environment.
Along with colleagues Andy Roberts, Janis Oppelt and Chris Bedford, Jung has volunteered hundreds of hours of time to the award-winning project from the Maryland Chapter of the Sierra Club. A companion website www.watershedradio.org was launched by allies in the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center last year, to add depth to each spot and make each more useful for classrooms.
While delivering a Watershed Radio CD to WRNR, Jung ran into DJ Michael Buckley, who was looking for collaborators for the Voices of the Chesapeake Bay archive interview project. Jungs dual credentials made her a shoo-in as a researcher and interviewer.
With Buckley and Claudia Donegan from Maryland Department of Natural Resources, she combed hundreds of miles of the Watershed to interview Baysiders and Bay lovers on the living (and sometimes dying) ways of the once-bountiful estuary. Since 2000, that project has aired fall through spring on 103.1 WRNR-FM Annapolis. This season concludes Sunday, March 31 with Bill Burton and two other interviews at 7:20, 8:20 and 9:20am. Interviews are compiled yearly for schools and libraries.
Jung also makes music in the annual Voices of the Cheasapeake Bay concert. Last year she wrote and performed a sort of watermans blues, for bluesman Earl White, who has been honored as an Admiral of the Chesapeake by Gov. Parris Glendening.
As Jung continues her volunteer work on behalf of the Bay, and her paid employment with the Geological Survey, her muse has other adventures in store. At her birthday party last summer, among the guests were neighbors Sabrina and David Glaeser. He is the Annapolis guitarist who plays under the spelling Glaser. With his vast repertoire of popular songs, Glaser soon had the party singing, thumping or plucking.
June joined in with a mesmerizing violin. Soon she was accepting Glasers invitation to accompany him at pubs and parties. When jazz and improvisational guitarist Rob Levit her music, another collaboration was born. She was also invited by Dan Haas to join Bens Bones, a group featuring his original songs.
Growing up in Ohio, this woman of note has walked both worlds music and science since childhood. She earned her Bachelors degree in Biology at Indiana University, a school known for its music program. In addition to her science studies, she herself practiced hours a day, retaining her early training in classical music.
For graduate school, Jung applied to both music and biology programs. She earned her doctorate in biology at University of Wisconsin, writing on the effects of pollutants on amphibians, a problem all too familiar on Chesapeake Bay.
March 28, Rob Levit/Robin Jung Folk-Jazz Fusion returns to 49 West. On April 4, the pair play Rams Head OnStage in the Voices of the Chesapeake Bay Benefit Concert, sharing the stage with the Bard of the Chesapeake, Tom Wisner, the Chesapeake Scenes, Earl White and Them Eastport Oyster Boys.