The Wordly D. Janakey

transplant remembers hard times with roving folk songs

Eric Christenson, photos by Eric Christenson

TRAVELIN’ SONGS. Folk singer David Janecke has lived all over the world, and now he calls Eau Claire home.
TRAVELIN’ SONGS. Folk singer David Janecke has lived all over the world,
and now he calls Eau Claire home.

Sometimes a folk singer’s strongest attribute is the places they’ve been and D. Janakey (the pen name of singer David Janecke) has already lived all over the world. Born in Kenosha, Janecke and his family moved to Bolivia when he was only seven years old, and he grew up and graduated from high school there. After spending a solo year in England, Janecke moved back to Wisconsin – to La Crosse for a while – until moving to Eau Claire a couple of years ago to study substance abuse counselling.

With a voice that’s reminiscent of early Bob Dylan and The Tallest Man on Earth, Janecke writes hard and fast folk songs about women, cigarettes, travel, a higher power – all subjects long written about in folk songs – on a new EP called Stations. But for Janecke, these songs are personal; they’re snippets of a traveler’s life, one that’s constantly finding new people to commune with, ways to deal with being isolated, defining a “home.”

“If anything (living in different international places has) made me confused about who I am or made me questions who I am. If you keep moving and meeting new people – or being alone for a while – you’re like, ‘Am I who I am back home?’”
– David Janecke on his project’s international folk songs

But take the song “Brothers” for example. While Janecke plucks and strums an acoustic guitar, his voice cuts with a snapshot of a poignant memory.

“The day I moved to Eau Claire, my two best friends from La Crosse and I packed up all my stuff and drove here,” Janecke said. “We were done loading everything, they had to go home, and we were sitting on the back of my friend’s truck smoking roll-up cigarettes. We were sharing, and we’d just be like, ‘Let’s just do one more.’ And then we got to the last cigarette and we didn’t have an excuse to stay there anymore. And we all kinda teared up.”

With the help of Reverii’s Gabe Larson, Janecke sat down and recorded Stations all at once. You won’t really find additional  instrumentation on this debut, just his guitar and his world-worn voice singing in Larson’s living room, where they recorded the tracks.

Janecke’s a sharp kid, and one who’s world experience is not at all like anyone else’s. Like it or not, he’s a rambler and a rover. He’s learned to adjust to new places, new people, new lifestyles – all by keeping his guitar handy. The songs on the EP were written on three different continents.

“If anything it’s made me confused about who I am or made me question who I am,” Janecke said. “If you keep moving and meeting new people – or being alone for a while – you’re like, ‘Am I who I am back home?’ ”

Janecke’s going to debut the EP at a house show on April 11, and he joins Reverii, Water Street Ramblers, and Love Taxi on April 24 at the House of Rock.

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