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What's Up Magazine

Jayme Ploff, 29, Rising-Star Musician

We often hear of personal success inspired by “aha” moments, but Jayme Ploff’s was more like “ahaaaaaa”—she sang her final note, and lengthy applause followed. When Ploff was in the sixth grade, she recruited two friends to sing a song with her—a capella!—in the school’s annual talent show. Her friends chickened out but she didn’t, and the rest is history. “The audience was so surprised, and impressed!” she enthuses. “I knew right then that I had to spend my life singing.” After studying jazz vocal performance at the University of Miami and earning her music degree, Ploff returned home to Maryland and settled on the Eastern Shore. Here, she has built a loyal fan base that’s eager to see her perform at such venues as Easton’s NightCat and Coffee East, and the Market Street Public House in Denton—whether it’s her solo acoustic folk and jazz show, or with the jazz group Minus One, or with 410 (pronounced “four ten”), the band she recently started. Speaking of which, Ploff says, “We all come from a jazz background and play a range of music, from blues to Pat Benatar to John Mayer to Gnarls Barkley–something for everyone!” Of course, proof of her potential is in the music—you simply must listen for yourself. Her original compositions include lilting acoustic rockers and introspective, piano-driven jazz ballads, and everything in between. Her voice has an enormous range, one that any American Idol hopeful would dream for; and she has guitar and piano chops, to boot! “Music is the greatest form of expression and is something that all people can relate to,” says Ploff. “I love being able to share my music with other people…[it’s] also incredibly cathartic.” Though her talent yet to be discovered by major record labels, her grass-roots following is thriving. Music on her Myspace artist page ( is approaching a thousand “listens” per track, and her live performances bring in growing crowds. “[The year] 2010 was such a wonderful year for me on all levels, and I want to spend 2011 keeping the momentum going,” she says. “I’ve written some great new songs and I’m planning to expand 410’s reach beyond the Eastern Shore—to Annapolis, Baltimore, D.C., and even down to the beaches.” Ploff, who has both Celiac and Lyme disease, says that her health has been her hardest challenge but adds that music is her “happy, fun time”—and it could very well become a full-time musical career. “I read somewhere that things turn out the best for the people who make the best of how things turn out,” she says. “That’s really how I try to live my life; something positive can always come out of something negative.” - James Houck

Bob Miller, 28, Dairy Entrepreneur

  “I’ve always enjoyed farming,” says Bob Miller, founder and owner of Nice Farms Creamery, located halfway between Denton and Federalsburg in Caroline County. “I’m proud of my family and our history as dairy farmers,” he adds. Miller comes from a long line of dairy farmers, including his parents and grandparents. “Years ago, many people were farmers, and we’re starting to lose that tradition,” he explains. A majority of dairy farmers sell their products to larger creameries that market and distribute to the bigger grocery and supermarket chains, such as Land O’Lakes and Farmland. But Miller wanted to sell his dairy products directly to consumers, so in 2009 he founded Nice Farms Creamery and made his products available primarily at farmers’ markets and to local grocery stores. The milk produced at Nice Farms Creamery is pasteurized immediately so it stays fresh longer than commercially processed milk, which typically sits for a couple of days before undergoing pasteurization. It’s also free of rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone), used by many dairies to increase milk production, and is not homogenized—like it was in the days when milk was delivered in glass bottles and the cream would rise to the top. The yogurt has no added sugar and is available in flavors like blueberry and peach, depending on the time of year. “I don’t mind going against the grain when I take up a project,” says Miller, who served two combat tours in Iraq as a field artillery officer during the five years he served in the U.S. Army. “As a lieutenant and junior captain, I developed the leadership skills that have given me the confidence and the freedom to interpret things and make decisions.” Assisted by his wife, Carol, and his younger brother, Miller works full-time at the creamery, where 60 dairy cows graze on the surrounding 201-acre farm owned by his parents. The dairy cattle—Holsteins, Holstein crosses, Jerseys, Dutch Belted, and Milking Shorthorns—spend approximately 21 hours a day, for nine months of the year, in the pasture, grazing primarily on grass and hay. The change of seasons results in a slightly different taste to the milk. Any milk that is not needed for the creamery is currently being sold to commercial creameries for processing. But in the future, as the business expands, Miller hopes to be able to use all of the milk produced on the farm—and he may even start making butter, as well. “It’s sad how industrial agriculture is ruining our food,” Miller states. “I started the creamery because I wanted to save the farming way of life.” Well, his noble efforts have certainly gotten him off to a good start. - Nadja Maril