Summer Concerts: You Can’t Hear Too Many
Music, friends, boats and the Bay: We like it this way.
by Dotty Holcomb Doherty
As the earth tilts again toward the solstice, I recall an evening at the tag end of last summer, a night when a storm raged up the Bay. A night when music harmonized with the Bay and the listeners.
I missed too many last year, travel keeping me away. This summer, I intend to get my fill of weekly outdoor concerts this summer at the Annapolis Maritime Museum’s Summer Concert Series, which began this week.
Now that the first concerts of the season have begun, I look back to remind myself not to miss out again on this rite of summer.
That warm August eve marked the end of the Annapolis Maritime Museum’s outdoor Wednesday evening concerts. I sat with my husband under maple leaves heavy with end-of-summer green. Flanked by two deadrise workboats, I watched chimney swifts wheel past, joined by mourning doves and gulls silhouetted against a billowing sky. A great blue heron alighted regally on the dock into Back Creek and reminded us, in case we had forgotten, why we live here.
Eastport rocked with its own ambassadors, Them Eastport Oyster Boys. As an impending storm headed up the coast, their song “Reef Down Day” took me back to the teenage thrill of pounding through dark waves lashed by rain, reefing the sails of a friend’s boat out on Buzzard’s Bay off the Massachusetts coast. Swaying to the Caribbean beat, we leaned to the four cardinal points as the verse directs, and “when the wind blows from the west, everybody like it best.”
On folding chairs and picnic blankets, the audience lingered, nary a sock in sight in this community that burns them on the vernal equinox as Eastport tradition dictates. Toddlers bounced on fat unsteady legs to this versatile band rocking on electric guitar, keyboard, accordion, trombone, ukulele and bass. Older folks wandered to the hull of Miss Lonesome to purchase a cup of wine or a bottle of water, pausing to reconnect with neighbors. Shoulder to shoulder they stood, smiling as the music washed over them.
The darkening sky soon layered in cottony shades of gray. Spinnakers pulled in, and races ended. Sailboats puttered up the creek toward their slips.
Masts reached higher than telephone poles along the base of Second Street. Early raindrops fell as the band launched into “Marina, Marina,” lamenting the plight of visiting boaters as they search for a mooring in Annapolis on a Friday night.
Cicada chorus and cricket chirp blended with verses crooning of crabbing on Back Creek.
Slate-colored waves chopped against the shore as light faded and green running lights sprouted on incoming starboard bows. Crews in yellows and reds stood on decks, intent faces gazing toward us, listening.
A young mother danced along the edge of the crowd with her giggling daughter piggybacked behind as Kevin Brooks softly began “The Water is Wide.” Instantly, I recalled walking back and forth on a dock over the Tred Avon, singing this love song as a lullaby to a tiny baby friend cradled in my arms.
As night fell, we shivered as Jeff Holland sang of Willy Brown bringing his catch of oysters, rockfish and crabs to McNasby’s. We heard his late wife’s plea, “Oh Willy B, you come straight home to me …” with a sense of foreboding. We tucked closer under the storm-rich sky, imagining mid-winter days tonging on a freezing Bay. A middle-aged couple leaned together, sharing a kiss and gentle hug, forging their own bond against the vagaries of life.
Steady rain did not deter this stalwart crowd nor stop the musicians. Music, friends, boats and the Bay. As the chorus reminds us, we like it this way.
Annapolis Maritime Museum’s free weekly Summertime Maritime Concert Series continues June 14 with Them Eastport Oyster Boys at 7pm @ Cap’n Herbie Sadler Park on the Annapolis Maritime Museum grounds and repeated Th noon @ City Dock: 410-295-0104; www.annapolismaritimemuseum.org.