There she was, a waitress and part-time bartender at the Top Side Inn in Galesville, on the banks of the West River in Anne Arundel County. The Top Side Jammers, a jazzy quintet, plays from late afternoon to 9:30 every Sunday. In this cozy restaurant where the food and music are excellent, patrons feel comfortable asking if they can sing with the band. Some are very good while others splinter the roof.
No one had ever asked 27-year-old Jane Wallace to sing. And, no one paid much attention on a recent Sunday afternoon a few months ago when she came around the bar to join the band.
The tall, bouncy woman in black slacks and black bartender's apron leaned over and whispered to Fred Loose, the leader and piano player. The band struck up "The Birth of the Blues," and when Ms. Wallace finished singing, the house exploded with applause and cries for "More . . . more . . . more!"
She followed that song with "An Orange Colored Sky." Do you remember those words? "I was walking along minding my business when out of an orange colored sky, wham, bam, ala-ka-zam wonderful you walked by." It was the audience who went ala-ka-zam that evening and Jane Wallace was an instant musical success.
Q: Why did you sing that Sunday?
A: I was dared. Plus, a waitress and friend of mine asked the band if I could.
Q: Did your friend think or did she know you could sing?
A: When a bunch of us get together, we sing riding in the car or wherever we are. Several had suggested I pursue singing a good while ago.
Q: Why did you wait?
A: Well, they gave me the idea but I just couldn't seem to make the first move.
Q: When the audience responded so wildly on that first Sunday evening and begged for more, how did you feel?
A: It literally blew my mind. I also thought, "Gosh, I wish I knew more."
Q: Many have commented that you are as much fun to watch as you are to listen to, that you bounce about with so much rhythm and seem as if you're having the time of your life. Are you?
A: You bet. I think the first time I sang I bounced to cover up the shaking fear I had. Now it's the rhythm and excitement of it all that keeps me bouncing.
Q: Are you working on your repertoire?
A: I am up to eight songs that I know all the words to.
Q: Who is your favorite singer?
A: If I could sing like anyone, it would be Barbra Streisand but I don't think I have her range or pitch. I also like Patsy Cline.
Q: Most people your age enjoy a different kind of music than that of Cline or of the '40s and '50s. Has that music always been your favorite?
A: I love those songs but I also love blues, western and Motown like "Dancing in the Street."
Q: How do you feel now that you're expected to sing every Sunday?
A: It still amazes me.
Q: Does it also amaze you that the clientele is different most weeks yet you continue to get the same avid responses to your singing?
A: Call it more amazing.
Q: Do you sing in the shower?
A: Yes. And in the car, the kitchen and all the time.
Q: Did you take singing lessons?
A: I've never had even one.
Q: How did you get to Galesville?
A: I had friends here. All of my family is in Scotland. I was an Army brat, born in Korea.
Q: Why and when did you begin bartending?
A: I was a waitress and learned from the bartender here so I can fill in.
Q: How about becoming a singing bartender?
A: That's pretty much what I already am, I guess.
Q: Now that you know you are good, will you be satisfied with a few songs on Sunday nights?
A: For sure. I feel so complimented and I'd like to build more stage presence and feel more comfortable. However, this has certainly opened my eyes for wanting more.
Q: Would you travel with a band, given the opportunity?
A: In a minute. I'd love every second of being in a band -- the people, the different crowds each night.
Q: Do you think about the feelings you had that first night you sang?
A: Oh my, yes. My feelings were overwhelming. I was scared and excited at the same time and I instantly loved the spotlight.