Smithsonian Folkways remembers Tom Wisner (1930-2010)
Tom Wisner, the "Bard of the Chesapeake Bay" who recorded 2 albums for Folkways Records, passed away on April 2nd at age 79. Working as a musician, teacher and biologist, Wisner dedicated his life to preserving and recording the waterways culture in and around the Bay area.
He used songs about the Chesapeake Bay environment to raise awareness for the natural life and culture surrounding the Bay waters. Wisner also devoted much of his time working with local elementary school students, creating art projects and musicals about protecting the water life of the region.
Jeff Place, Smithsonian Folkways archivist, comments on Wisner's contributions to the Smithsonian Folkways collection and early collaborations with Moses Asch: "When Tom Wisner from Southern Maryland visited Folkways Records owner Moses Asch in New York City in 1979, Asch was immediately impressed by the passion in Wisner's music, how it really told the story of one particular region of the United States. Asch was totally supportive of Wisner and released two albums, both written, recorded, and designed by Tom. Wisner personified the phrase, ‘think globally, act locally'. He was a man dedicated to his beliefs who lived a humble life in a small house by the Patuxent River. He was beloved among neighbors, watermen, and Governors. His spirit will be missed."