All posts by Donna Green-Townsend

Happy Birthday Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

DSC09504More than 120 people turned out to help celebrate Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings 121st birthday in Cross Creek on Saturday.  They were treated to a fish fry with all the fixings including fried fish, grits, hush puppies, coleslaw, cake and sherbert made from tangerines and oranges from Marjorie’s grove on the farm.

 

See video highlights of the event below:

The Friends of the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Farm and the staff of the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park sponsored the event with support from Visit Gainesville/Alachua County.  Northwest Seafood in Gainesville donated and fried the fish.

Visitors were treated to the jazz tunes of the band, “Uptown Swing” as they ate their meals on tables set up all around Marjorie’s home and barn.  The August 5th event was part of the year-long activities planned around the 75th anniversary of Rawling’s publications, “Cross Creek,” and “Cross Creek Cookery.”  For more information about upcoming events go online to marjoriekinnanrawlings.org

Animal Exhibit at Yearling Restaurant (1)Meanwhile, at the Yearling Restaurant in Cross Creek, visitors can see a Florida wild animal exhibit which showcases the animals made popular in the literary works of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.

Owner of the Yearling Restaurant, Robert Blauer, has recently added the colorful taxidermy-mount exhibit featuring most of the species of wild animals found throughout Florida. Many of these, particularly the bear and deer, were made famous by Rawlings in her many books like The Yearling (Pulitzer Prize 1939), and Cross Creek (1942). Some 40 animal mounts, called “Fodderwing’s Creeturs,” belonging to Cross Creek naturalist, Jim Stephens, are displayed against a spectacular mural setting painted by St. Augustine artist, Gayle Prevatt.

Artist Gayle Prevatt and Naturalist Jim StephensBlauer is inviting the public to come and see this new attraction while also enjoying the old-time dining favorites at the eatery such as gator-tail, catfish and grits, seafood, and sour orange pie, which have made the short drive from Gainesville a memorable dining adventure.

 

 

Contact Information:

Mural Artist: Gayle Prevatt, 904-377-7917, gprevatt@aug.com
Animal Exhibit: Jim Stephens 352-466-3034, sloughfootcreek@aol.com
Yearling Restaurant owner: Robert Blauer, 352-466-3999

 

Jessie and Lee Townsend Tribute CD now available

Listen and Watch song samples from the new “Tribute” CD below:  The newest video just added is, “Lost Tourist’s Letter Home.”

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Jessie and Lee’s CD is the newest professional recording for this sister/brother duet.

 

(To pre-order a CD, please send $15.00 to:  Jessie Townsend,
13501 SE 171st Lane  Hawthorne, FL 32640)
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Jessie, Red and Chris Henry and David McBrady in the studio

Jessie and Lee Townsend  recently went back into the studio to record six more songs to add to their CD Sampler.  The CD will now have 12 songs and be titled, “Tribute” as it will have songs from several of Florida’s best songwriters past and present including Will McLean, Steve Blackwell, Jim Ballew, Dale Crider, Don Grooms and Ann Thomas to name a few.

 

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Lee Townsend in the studio

Below you will find music videos of six of the songs included on the project followed by audio samples from all of the songs on the CD including “Lost Tourist’s Letter Home,” written by the late Ann Thomas about a tourist travelling by bus from Boston who was headed to Miami, but got off in the Florida scrub by mistake; “Crying Bird,” written by the late Will McLean about the potential demise of the Florida Limpkin; “Lonesome Wind Blues,” written by the late Wayne Raney and made popular by the Father of Bluegrass, Bill Monroe; “When I Die” written by the late Jim Ballew; “Oh Kissimmee River” written by environmental troubadour Dale Crider from Windsor, FL and “Wild Birds” written by the late Don Grooms.

Jessie and Lee were joined in the studio for this CD by  Chris Henry (guitar, mandolin and vocal harmony), Red Henry (fiddle, mandolin and vocal harmony),  David McBrady (bass and vocal harmony), Jason Thomas (mandolin). Gabe Valla (rhythm guitar), Christian Ward (fiddle), Elisabeth Williamson (vocal harmony) and Lon Williamson (bass).  The lost tourist in the first video, “Lost Tourist’s Letter Home,” is portrayed by Harriett Meyer.

Lost Tourist’s Letter Home

Crying Bird

Lonesome Wind Blues

When I Die
 
 Wild Birds

Oh Kissimmee River

Song samples:
Jessie and Lee Townsend
Jessie and Lee Townsend (all photos by Donna Green-Townsend)

Kentucky Borderline (written by Rhonda Vincent and Terry Herd)  Performing on this fast-paced bluegrass tune that was the 2004 IBMA Song of the Year are Lee on banjo, Jessie singing the lead vocal, Jason Thomas on mandolin, Gabe Valla on rhythm guitar, Christian Ward on fiddle, David McBrady on bass and Elisabeth Williamson singing vocal harmony.

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Bury Me Beneath The Willow This traditional bluegrass song features Jessie singing the lead vocal, Lee on guitar and David McBrady on bass and vocal harmony.

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Nails In My Coffin (written by Gerald Irby) This song orginally written in 1946 features Lee on banjo and rhythm guitar, Jessie singing lead vocal, Elisabeth Williamson on vocal harmony, Christian Ward on fiddle and David McBrady on bass and vocal harmony.

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If I Needed You (written by Townes Van Zandt) features Jessie singing the lead vocal, Lee on guitar, Christian Ward on fiddle, David McBrady on bass and Elisabeth Williamson and David McBrady on vocal harmony.

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Lee and Jessie Townsend with David McBrady
Lee and Jessie Townsend with David McBrady performing Macclenny Farewell at the Will McLean Festival in March, 2016

Macclenny Farewell (written by Will McLean) This love song written by the late Father of Florida Folk features Jessie on the lead vocal, Lee on guitar and David McBrady on bass.

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dsc_0050The Line (written by Steve Blackwell) The line was written by the late Steve Blackwell from Punta Gorda who penned this beautiful song about someone reflecting on all of the family members who have gone on before.  This rendition of the song features Jessie singing the lead vocal, Lee on guitar and Lon Williamson on bass.

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Oh Kissimmee River (written by Dale Crider) Oh Kissimmee River written by environmental troubadour from Windsor, FL, Dale Crider, brings attention to the disastrous environmental effects of trying to straighten the Kissimmee River. This version features Jessie singing the lead vocal, Lee on banjo, Chris Henry on guitar, Red Henry on mandolin and David McBrady on bass.

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Withlacoochee River

When I Die (written by Jim Ballew) When I Die is one of the most beautiful songs ever written by the late Jim Ballew. It features Jessie on vocals, Lee on guitar, Chris Henry on mandolin, Red Henry on fiddle and David McBrady on bass.

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A Florida Limpkin

Cryin’ Bird (written by Will McLean) Cryin’ Bird by Will McLean brings attention to the potential extinction of Florida’s Limpkin because of the lack of food resources the Limpkin eats in the Wakulla River. Jessie sings vocal, Lee plays guitar, Chris Henry plays mandolin, Red Henry is on the fiddle and David McBrady is on bass.  Elisabeth Williamson adds vocal harmony.

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Lonesome Wind Blues (written by Wayne Raney) Lonesome Wind Blues is a very traditional bluegrass song. It was originally recorded in 1947 by Wayne Raney and later made famous by the Father of Bluegrass Bill Monroe. In this version Jessie sings the vocals with harmony added by Chris and Red Henry.  Lee plays banjo, Chris Henry plays guitar, Red Henry is on the mandolin and David McBrady is on the bass.

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Wild Birds (written by Don Grooms) Wild Birds is a love song written by the late Don Grooms. Jessie sings the vocals, Lee is on guitar, Chris Henry is on mandolin, Red Henry is on fiddle and David McBrady is on bass.

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Lost Tourist’s Letter Home (written by Ann Thomas) In this tongue-in-cheek song the late Ann Thomas pokes fun at what a lost tourist would write home about if he or she got off a tour bus in the middle of Florida. Jessie sings vocals, Lee plays banjo, Chris Henry is on guitar, Red Henry is on mandolin and David McBrady is on bass

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Jessie and Lee Townsend  DSC_0057

Jessie and Lee have been performing  for several years.  Venues have included the Florida Folk Festival, the Will McLean Festival, the Alachua and Micanopy Festivals, bluegrass events in Waldo, the Christmas Candelight program at Disney World and a variety of other church services and community events.

 To pre-order a CD, please send $15.00 to:

Jessie Townsend
13501 SE 171st Lane
Hawthorne, FL 32640

To book Jessie and Lee for musical performances call 352-575-3042, or send an email to townsendjessie@gmail.com.

Lee and Jessie Townsend
Lee and Jessie Townsend

 

Gator nation mourns loss of former Gator QB John Reaves

  • John Reaves 4(Listen to 23 minute interview with Reaves from 1997 below)

Former All-American quarterback at the University of Florida and pro quarterback for the Tampa Bay Bucs and Bandits, John Reaves, was found dead in his South Tampa home on Tuesday. Authorities are investigating the cause of death. Reaves, who was 67, was found by his son David on Tuesday afternoon. He told authorities it looked as if he had passed away in his sleep.

Editor’s note:

Reaves was considered to be a legend at the University of Florida.  He was the starter on the 1969 Gator team that finished the season 9-1-1.  By the time his career ended at UF in 1971 he was the NCAA’s all-time leading passer and held the SEC record for touchdown passes with 54.

He then went on to be a first-round draft choice in the NFL and played pro football for 14 years from 1972 to 1987.  Ten years were in the NFL and 4 in the USFL.  He played for the Philadelphia Eagles, the Houston Oilers, Cincinnati Bengals, Tampa Bay Bandits, and the Bucs. From 1990 to 1994  Reaves was an assistant coach at the University of Florida. In 1995 he became an assistant football coach at the University of South Carolina where he worked coaching quarterbacks and serving as the passing game coordinator.

He also struggled with demons, namely alcohol, with a variety of sessions in rehab. It was a subject he was not afraid to talk about during a 1997 interview with me,  just before the 1997 NFL draft.

Reaves weighed in on the subject of Gator players leaving school early for a chance at the pros, as in the case that year for Gator players Reidel Anthony and Ike Hilliard who were expected to be first-round NFL draft choices.  It was just four and a half months after the Gators won the College National Championship beating FSU 52-20 under the leadership of signal-caller, QB and Heisman Trophy winner, Danny Wuerffel.

In our interview below from 1997, Reaves talked about the pros and cons of leaving school early. He also addressed how academic standards had changed since he was in college and how he thought that was a good move to help players find more meaningful paths once their football careers were over.  And he addressed his struggle with alcohol after growing up with family members who also faced the same addiction.

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Short segments from the interview above were included in an award-winning sports feature titled, The Dream To Go Pro.”

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It was one of my favorite features to work on and included interview segments from not only John Reaves, but also Peyton Manning, Danny Wuerffel, Chris Weinke, Billy Donovan, Jeremy Foley and Perry McGriff to name a few.

Reaves, who divorced some time after the interview above, continued to battle drugs and alcohol throughout his life, but turned to religion for solace.  At times in his life he was active with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, his son David Reaves said his father was among the plaintiffs in a suit filed by former NFL players against the league over concussions and brain trauma. The family is looking to donate Mr. Reaves’ brain toward research for chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the degenerative brain disease linked to repeated head hits

He had three grown children and five grandchildren.  A public funeral will be held Saturday at 1 p.m. at South Tampa Fellowship Church at 5101 Bayshore Blvd.

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Tampa Bay Times article:

John Reaves

John Reaves, former Robinson, Gators and Bucs quarterback, dies at 67

TAMPA — He sprouted on the college football landscape when psychedelia was at its heyday. In the immediate wake of Woodstock, John Reaves dropped back and tossed spirals with fearless, free-spirited aplomb.

“I never saw him intimidated, afraid, in the least,” former University of Florida backup center Larry Morris said.

“He would throw an interception and never think twice about dropping back the next time he got the ball and letting it go. He was just a damn gunslinger.”

It was the type of abandon that partially defined the era. On and off the field, Mr. Reaves experimented, took risks, flourished, fizzled. As decades passed, he became a legend.

And a cautionary tale.  Click here to read more of this article in the Tampa Bay Times
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Jacksonville Times-Union article:


Former Gators QB John Reaves, one of school’s most prolific passers, dies at 67

John Reaves, one of the most prolific quarterbacks in Florida Gator history until the Fun and Gun Era under Steve Spurrier, died on Tuesday at his Tampa home. He was 67.

According to tampabay.com, Reaves was found by his son David, who checked on him after he was not heard from in several days. His death is under investigation by the Hillsborough County Medical examiner.

Reaves played at Florida from 1969-1971 and broke the passing records that were held by Spurrier. Reaves is still seventh on UF’s all-time school career passing yardage list with 7,549 in three years (freshman could not play varsity sports at the time) and eighth in TD passes (54).

When he left school, Reaves was the NCAA career leader in yardage and touchdowns. UF went 20-12-1 during his three years, including a 9-1-1 record when he was a sophomore.

To read more of the Jacksonville Times Union story Click here:

Bluesman Willie Green- The Real Deal

Willie Green 1 2007 FL Folk FestBluesman Willie Green has just won the 2017 Florida State Heritage Award!  

 Patrons of the Yearling Restaurant in Cross Creek, FL are treated every weekend with the Delta blues sound of Willie Green.  Music is Willie’s life.  He began playing harmonica as a teenager and eventually picked up the guitar after being inspired by the music he heard in Florida clubs like the Blue Chip, the Down Beat and the Diamond Club.

Life wasn’t always kind to Willie in his early years.  He was born in the mid-1930s to a family of sharecroppers and migrant laborers in Pine Level, AL, outside of Mongtomery.  He had to quit school at a young age to help support his family by travelling from farm to farm throughout the Southeast harvesting peanuts, fruit and vegetables.  Later in life he ended up in Ocala, FL, though the 1980s were also hard times for Willie as well.

Now in his “golden years” he’s attracting a tremendous following for his authentic blues music.  He’s become a favorite at various state festivals such as the Florida Folk Festival, Magnolia Fest, Springing the Blues, the Gamble Rogers Festival and at blues competitions such as the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN.  Willie has opened for well-known blues musicians including Robert Cray and Eric Clapton, Grammy-winning blues musician John Hammond, shared the stage with the late “Honeyboy” Edwards and collaborated with Southern rock group J.J. Grey and Mofro.   In 2010, he received Stetson Kennedy’s Fellow Man and Mother Earth Award.

Reporter Trimmel Gomes and Donna Green-Townsend brought Willie into the WUFT studios in 2005 to hear the story of his life and to hear him play a little blues.

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Below are a few more of the songs Willie performed at the Yearling Restaurant in Cross Creek on June 15, 2014:

Song 2

Song 3

Song 4

Song 5

Song 6

 

Willie playing Baby You Mine

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Willie singing a song about Muddy Waters called Hoochie Coochie Man

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Willie performing Blue With A Feelin

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OCL-LOGO

Willie Green

On October 15th, 1935, or there abouts, a baby boy was born in a rural Alabama sharecropper’s cabin. His mother Mattie and father Willie Green Sr. named him Willie Grant Green. The Grant comes from the famous Union general. Willie doesn’t know the name of the little farm hamlet, only that it was near the city of Montgomery. He doesn’t have any family photos or even a birth certificate. Only that his family were sharecroppers and travelling migrant workers. He was lucky to go school for a of couple years, but was soon pulled from the 4th grade to start working in the fields, picking everything from peanuts to potatoes. Travelling around the southeast in the back of a truck, field to field, farm to farm, he picked vegetables and fruits through his teenage years and into his twenties. By then he had left the family following the crop harvest north as far as Maine, he met a girl there, a local farmer’s daughter. He says he always wished he would have stayed, but time to head back south: more crops coming in the spring. His brother was called to Vietnam. Willie never saw him again.

While still at home as a teenager, Willie would sneak out at night, sometimes catching a ride on a passing freight into Montgomery to the juke joints. He wanted to hear the music, the BLUES music, from the greats like John Lee Hooker, Little Walter, Muddy Waters; all those cats getting home before sunrise to the welcome of a belt in the hands of Mama Mattie, who wasn’t fond of the juke joint scene.

Willie-Green Old City Life
Photo Courtesy of Old City Life publication

One day an old boy gave Willie a harp, and the rest is history. He continued his migrant worker job, with the harp in his back pocket, playing when he could, sitting in with anyone he could. In the 1960s Willie found his way to Florida, were some cousins lived in Pompano Beach. During this time he was called back to Alabama one time. Mama Mattie had passed away on the farm. This was the last time he saw the place and his only relatives there. Willie remembers he inherited her refrigerator, but had no way to haul it home on the Greyhound bus. Back in Florida he found new jobs like pipe laying, driving a pulp wood truck, laying cement roads; anything that made a little dough. Heven started learning to play some guitar to go with the harp. He got to sit in with some of the great blues players travelling through. Cash was king, no bank account needed…..

To continue reading more from this article in the publication, “Old City Life” about blues singer and performer Willie Green click here.

Bill Cosby critical of the lack of good role models on TV in an ironic archival 1979 Interview

Comedian Bill Cosby giving a 1979 press Conference
Comedian Bill Cosby giving a 1979 press Conference in KS (photo by Vickie Cooper)

Editor’s note: I was so excited to meet the famous comedian back in 1979.  I had memorized many of his comedy routines to use in my speech classes in high school. I remember how shocked I was during the press conference (hear an excerpt below) when he was SO serious about everything. I had expected him to be funny. Now all these years later I realize there was a lot more going on with this man than comedy…..

 

 

 

June 17, 2017:  Judge declares a mistrial in Bill Cosby sexual assault case
A Pennsylvania judge declared a mistrial Saturday after a jury was deadlocked on sexual-assault charges against Bill Cosby, the comic legend whose legacy as a promoter of wholesome values has been tarnished by a years-long sex and drugging scandal.  Click here to read more….

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June 8, 2017:  Bill Cosby Trial Day 4: More Testimony, but No Mrs. Cosby
By GRAHAM BOWLEY and JON HURDLE
  • With the major prosecution witnesses now finished testifying at Bill Cosby’s trial on sexual assault charges, who will the defense introduce soon as part of its rebuttal? Mr. Cosby has said he will not testify. Might he change his mind?
  • The prosecution plans to call a forensic toxicologist to testify about the effects of quaaludes and other drugs, which prosecutors say Mr. Cosby used to incapacitate women.  Click here to read more:

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June 6, 2017:  By Donna Green-Townsend
 A 50-year-career in the entertainment business is on the line for 79-year-old comedian Bill Cosby.

Cosby is on trial this week in a sexual assault case which many say will “define his legacy” as a father and family man both on screen and off.

Cosby’s private life has been targeted by dozens of young women who say the actor drugged and sexually assaulted them.  The majority of those claims  will never be decided by a court because of the statute of limitations….basically the women waited too long to come forward.  But that’s not the case for former Temple University basketball staffer, 44 year-old Andrea Constand, who will take the stand in suburban Philadelphia this week and tell her story in public for the first time.

There is a bit of irony in the latest troubles facing the revered comedian. In a 1979 press conference, five years before he played the character of Dr. Cliff Huxtable on his popular sitcom,  Cosby was critical about the lack of good role models on television.  The press conference took place before his show at the Kansas State Fair in Hutchinson, KS.

Bill Cosby0007

Excerpt of the 1979 press conference at the KS State Fair:

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First version of story Dec. 4, 2014:

Amid the wave of sexual assault allegations against Bill Cosby, the comedian resigned Monday from the board of trustees of his alma mater, Temple University.

Bill Cosby’s troubles continue to mount.  On Tuesday a Riverside County, California woman, Judy Huth,  filed a lawsuit against the beleaguered comedian alleging he sexually assaulted her in 1974 at the Playboy Mansion when she was 15 years old.

The lawsuit is the latest in a series of sexual assault accusations against 77 year old Cosby.   Cosby’s attorney Martin D. Singer, describes the recent accusations as “unsubstantiated, fantastical stories.”

Meanwhile, many of Cosby’s scheduled stage performances have been cancelled.  Television executives have halted two of Cosby’s television projects and have also yanked reruns of the popular, “The Cosby Show,” off the air.  The sitcom dominated television ratings from1984 to 1992.  Before the show, most people primarily knew the comedian for his jello pudding commercials and Fat Albert cartoons along with his many stand-up comedy routines.

Florida Cabinet approves purchase of Blue Springs Park

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Blue Springs in Gilchrist County, FL
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Dante Wyndam from Sebring enjoys a swim in Blue Springs

 

 

 

 

 

 

Update June 14, 2017:  On Wednesday morning the Florida Cabinet approved purchasing Blue Springs Park in Gilchrist County.  The state has agreed to pay $5.25 million dollars for the 407-acre property which includes frontage along the Santa Fe River.  Real estate sites indicate the value of the property is closer to $10 million dollars.  Environmental organizations are praising the purchase decision and have described Blue Springs Park, which has been privately owned since the late 50’s, as an environmental jewel and a win-win for the state.

The park, like many springs in North Central Florida, is packed on a typical summer weekend with swimmers, snorkelers, kayakers, tubers and picnickers.

 The video below depicts a typical summer weekend at Blue Springs Park.

(videography by Donna Green-Townsend.  Song Blue Springs Swing by Lauren Heintz.  Wildwood Flower performed by Sam Pacetti and Gabriel Valla)

 

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Earlier post:  June 19, 2015:  Friday morning in Tallahassee, Florida’s Acquisition and Restoration Council unanimously voted to add Blue Springs and the 405-acre property on the Santa Fe River near High Springs to the list of first-magnitude springs the state is seeking to buy with Florida Forever funds.

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Original post:

On June 19th, the state’s Acquisition and Restoration Council will decide whether to add Blue Springs to its larger “First Magnitude Springs” aquisition project.  Hundreds of people have signed a petition urging the state to purchase Blue Springs Park in Gilchrist County and turn it into a state park.  Environmental groups like, “Our Santa Fe River,” and others point out the purchase would protect the spring from future development and make it available to the general public.  They point out how the park already has campsites, parking, boardwalks and other infrastructure which would make the transition to a state park easier.

The 405-acre property along the Santa Fe River in Florida has been privately owned by Kimberly David and Matt Barr since the late 1950s. Blue Springs has been a very popular recreation destination for years.  Environmentalists say Blue Springs is a unique treasure and protecting the popular water body is what Floridians had in mind when they voted for Amendment 1, the land conservation constitutional amendment that voters overwhelmingly approved in November.

 

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An online petition is circulating asking folks to support the state’s acquisition of Blue Springs Park.  The petition reads:
Purchase of Gilchrist Blue Springs

To be delivered to Mr. Hank Vinson, Staff Director, Acquisition and Restoration Council and Mr. Gary Clark, Deputy Secretary for Land and Recreation Designee

Dear Sirs: Your council will soon meet to determine the fate of one of Florida’s finest remaining natural resources and a prime example of what our state can boast as a unique treasure. Gilchrist Blue Springs seems made to order for what the people of Florida had in mind when they voted in Amendment 1. This spring is categorized as a second magnitude, just short of a first magnitude producing approximately 40 million gallons of fresh clean water each day, and as such is one of Florida’s major springs. There are 4 large springs and 2 smaller springs on the property, which has multiple buildings and 25 campsites with electric and water. In addition there are 100+ primitive campsites, nature trails, and a long boardwalk to the Santa Fe River. Wildlife is abundant on the property and especially important for two reasons: it boasts ten species of turtles, second only to the Ichetucknee in the Santa Fe basin, and it has a very high populations of snails, one of which, Elimia sp., is important for controlling nuisance algae. The surrounding land totals nearly 400 acres, which would then be protected from development and would further enhance the overall designation of the Santa Fe as an Outstanding Florida Waterway, ecological greenway, and paddling trail. The venue is already a park and has recreational facilities for swimming, camping and picnicking. The availability of the Gilchrist Blue Springs property comes at an opportune moment, when Amendment 1 funds have been assured by law. Our Santa Fe River encourages your council to grasp this opportunity to preserve this beautiful and invaluable part of the pristine Florida for which it is renowned.
If interested in signing the petition you can go to:

Apalachicola Documentary

Official website of the Murrow Award-Winning Documentary, “Apalachicola Doin’ Time” and various updates

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Rally for Apalachicola Bay in August before a Senate field hearing on the health of the bay. (photo by Donna Green-Townsend)

June 1, 2017 UPDATE:  Florida asks U.S. Supreme Court to Save Apalachicola River, Oyster Industry:

TALLAHASSEE — Florida is telling the U.S. Supreme Court that it represents the state’s last legal remedy for saving the Apalachicola River and the oysters and people who depend on it.  Gov. Rick Scott in 2013 sued Georgia in the Supreme Court, seeking to cap Georgia’s water use upstream on the Chattahoochee and Flint rivers. But a court official recommended in February that the case be dismissed because Florida had not included the Army Corps of Engineers, which operates federal reservoirs on the Chattahoochee River. In a brief filed Wednesday, Florida argues that the court had never found that a state was harmed by upstream water use but then determined it was powerless to do anything about it. If the court dismisses the case, Georgia would be free to continue or increase its water use, Florida said. ….Click here for the full story.

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October 2013 UPDATE:   Florida Governor Rick Scott and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi have moved forward with their plans to file a lawsuit in the U.S. Supreme Court over the decades old Tri-State Water War.  The lawsuit is primarily aimed at Georgia over that state’s withdrawals of water from the Chattahoochee-Apalachicola-Flint River system—a river system Alabama, Florida and Georgia all share.  At the heart of the ongoing debate is the health of Apalachicola Bay and Florida’s seafood industry.

Click here to view highlights of the Senate field hearing held in Apalachicola on the issue in August of 2013. To learn more about how the Apalachicola community is affected by the “water war” listen and view segments below: Apalachicola Doin' Time

2000 Edward R. Murrow Award Winning Documentary

Pic I took at Apalachicola off Paddlewheel used for CD cover later
Fishing boats along the Apalachicola River bayfront (photo by Donna Green-Townsend)
Donna voicing the "Apalachicola Doin' Time" documentary at WUFT with co-hosts Daniel Beasley and Josh Azriel in 1999
Donna voicing the “Apalachicola Doin’ Time” documentary at WUFT with co-hosts Daniel Beasley and Josh Azriel in 1999
Introduction- to Re-Release of the Documentary

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Part One- The Issues

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Part Two- Florida’s Oyster Capitol

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Part Three- Apalachicola’s Waterfront

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Part Four- Water Quality and the Tri-State Water War

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Part Five- Apalachicola’s History

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Part Six- Tourism on the Rise

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Part Seven- Water Quantity and the Tri-State Water War

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Part Eight- Close and Credits

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Part Nine- Epilogue

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The Producers of Apalachicola Doin’ Time

Musicians Featured In Apalachicola Doin’ Time (featuring a sample of their music)

Dale Willfest 2001
Dale Crider

Dale Crider – Apalachicola Doin’ Time

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"Changes In The Wind" Jeanie Fitchen
Jeanie Fitchen

Jeanie Fitchen – Changes In The Wind

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"The River" Steve Gillette
Steve Gillette

Steve Gillette – The River

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"Music Drifts" and "Margaret" Mike Jurgensen
Mike Jurgenson

Mike Jurgensen – Music Drifts

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and Margaret

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Harvey Reid

Harvey Reid – Circles

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ken skeens
Ken Skeens

Ken Skeens – Old Florida River

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"Wisdom of the River" Mark Smith
Mark Smith

Mark Smith – Wisdom of the River

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Various locations around Apalachicola, Florida and some of the people interviewed for the documentary.

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Musical Murrow Celebration

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Just prior to the RTDNA Murrow Award ceremony in Minneapolis, MN, singer songwriter Mark Smith had a celebration at his home which included several of the songwriters who had music utilized in the documentary. In this video Dale Crider sings the song that inspired the documentary.

Holding a portrait given to him by Donna Green-Townsend and George Floyd painted by Mary Ann DiNella
Crider holding a portrait given to him by Donna Green-Townsend and George Floyd painted by Mary Ann DiNella

For more than three decades Dale Crider worked as a wildlife biologist for the Florida Game and Freshwater Fish Commission.  During that time he also followed his other passion, songwriting.  Crider wrote many songs about environmental conditions in Florida.  “Apalachicola Doin’ Time” was one such song.  It was by chance nearly 30 years after Crider penned the song that Apalachicola resident, George Floyd, happened upon one of Crider’s music tapes and heard his song.  On that day the concept for the need to tell the story of the Tri-State Water War was born.  Crider is considered to be Florida’s Environmental Troubadour.  He has inspired musicians across Florida to write songs about the environment.

Listen to an hour-long special on Across the Prairie on WUFT regarding the Re-release and update of the Apalachicola Doin’ Time Documentary Dale and documentary co-producer Donna Green-Townsend were special guests on the longtime Sunday afternoon program on WUFT, Across the Prairie with host Cathy DeWitt.  Click on the audio button below.

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Cover of Apalachicola Doin’ Time CD

Copies of the two-CD set of “Apalachicola Doin’ Time,” including the music companion CD, are available through the non-profit Will McLean Foundation. Will McLean is considered the “Father of Florida Folk.”  He’s the first folk artist inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame.  It was his mission to save Florida through music.

 

 

 

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In 2001 several of the musicians whose songs were used in the documentary were featured at not only the Will McLean Festival (March, 2001) but also the state’s official festival, The Florida Folk Festival (May, 2001). Click on the audio button below to hear the live presentation at the Will McLean Festival.  The late Jan Glidewell, longtime columnist with the Tampa Bay Times, introduced Donna Green-Townsend who hosted the special musical event.

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The late Homer Marks from Apalachicola

One of the key characters of the documentary, Homer Marks, lived to be 102.  (Homer died in 2005).  Click here to go to a special page dedicated to Homer Marks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dale Crider, Josh Azriel, Donna Green-Townsend and George Floyd and friend
Dale Crider, Josh Azriel, Donna Green-Townsend and George Floyd and friend

Funding for the “Apalachicola Doin’ Time” documentary was provided by a grant from George Floyd in memory of Jim Floyd and George Kirvin, two of the earliest heralds of the rivers and bays and their value as an undisturbed natural resource.

 

 

 

 

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Apalachicola Documentary Awards

1st Place National RTDNA Edward R. Murrow Award, Best Documentary

1st Place Southeast Regional RTDNA Edward R. Murrow Award, Best Documentary

1st Place Florida Associated Press Broadcasters, Public Affairs category

Silver Reel from the National Federation of Community Broadcasters, documentary category

Finalist, Atlanta Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, Green Eye Shade awards (Southeast 11 state Region)

Finalist, Society of Professional Journalists Sunshine State Awards, Public Affairs category

1st Place, BEA Student Interactive Multimedia competition in the Online category

Silver Addy in the Collateral Material – CD Category for the Apalachicola Doin’ Time CD cover, insert and tray card.

 

Some of the stations that have carried Apalachicola Doin’ Time:

KBAQ Mesa, Arizona
KBOO Portland, Oregon
KERA Dallas, Texas
KJZZ Phoenix, Arizona
Utah Public Radio/KUSU FM Logan, Utah
WABE Atlanta, Georgia
WETS Johnson City, Tennessee
WFSU Tallahassee, Florida
WFSW Panama City, Florida
WJUF-FM Inverness, Florida
WKGC Panama City, Florida
WQCS  Asheville, North Carolina
WSLU Canton, New York
WUFT-FM Gainesville, Florida
California Public Radio
Georgia Public Radio

ADT quote 2ADT 3   Documentary Summary by- Co-Producer, Donna Green-Townsend Two hundred yards below the Appalachian Trail in Georgia, the waters of the Chattahoochee River begin a 500 mile journey south.  The river flows each day through Atlanta, past Western Georgia cities like Columbus and along the state boundary between Georgia and Alabama — past more than a dozen dams and locks on the way to the Gulf of Mexico.  At the Florida-Georgia border the Chattahoochee meets up with Georgia’s Flint River and  takes on a new name –The Apalachicola. Sixteen billion gallons of water flow down the Apalachicola into the Bay every day making it Florida’s largest waterway and it’s at the heart of a tri-state water war.

This documentary is an audio journey to the community at the end of the drainpipe so to speak — Apalachicola: a Florida seafood community that worries about being at the mercy of its northern water using neighbors. We journey to the city’s famous waterfront, hear about the history of this unique river town and find out how the community’s affected by the rapid development of ecotourism and growth.  We also talk with the key negotiators involved in the current water war involving Alabama, Florida and Georgia as the clock ticks down on a deadline to resolve differences over shared river resources.

There’s a lot at stake for all three southern states: rapid growth in Atlanta creates a strong need to secure drinking water for the future. Farmers want to maintain the ability to irrigate their crops, Alabama residents want to maintain peak hydropower and navigational use, and in Florida, at the end of the Apalachicola River, the seafood industry worries about the future of its oysters, scallops, crabs and shrimp.

unfortunately

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 Update: U.S. Senators Nelson and Rubio Hold Senate Field Hearing in Apalachicola while Governor Rick Scott says Florida will file a lawsuit seeking to limit the amount of Apalachicola headwaters Georgia can use. (aired August 13, 2013)

 

Apalachicola’s oyster industry see historic collapse in 2012 from drought and salinity  (originally aired April 26, 2013)

The severe drought in 2012 caused an historic collapse of Florida’s oyster industry.  During the past year a variety of state agencies have been working for the Florida Sea Grant Program to try and understand all the causes for the fishery disaster.  The cooperative effort is working toward designing a plan to help restore and manage the industry in the future.  WUFT’s Donna Green-Townsend talked with the Director of the Florida Sea Grant College Program, Karl Havens, who is heading up the University of Florida’s Oyster Recovery Team, about the findings outlined in the group’s special report this week.

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Links to Environmental Data

United States Geological Service — Water Resources of Georgia: The overall website for the USGS water resources program in Georgia. Links to a variety of pollution data, answers to common questions and USGS publications.

Upper Chattahoochee River Keeper: The website of the non-profit organization that keeps tabs on everything that deals with the Chattahoochee, including a section on tri-state water issues. Background information on the river, legal issues, and information about joining the group.

Georgia Department of Natural Resources: An extensive section on Georgia’s plan to deal with water issues among the three states

Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs: The specific details of Alabama’s water plans for the ACF river basin and the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa River basin.

Apalachicola Chamber of Commerce: The online home to the Apalachicola area. Find out about the historic nature of “Florida’s Forgotten Coast.”

Tupelo Honey: The largest and densest stands of Tupelo trees grow in the swamps of the lower Apalachicola and Chipola Rivers. Nowhere are Tupelos so dense that honey can be made from and certified pure Tupelo.

Florida Department of Environmental Protection: The site provides the latest information on proposed environmental legislation, appointments, and programs.

Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve: The Apalachicola Reserve includes two barrier islands and a portion of a third. The Reserve also includes the lower 52 miles of the Apalachicola River and its associated floodplain, small portions of adjoining uplands, and the Apalachicola Bay system. The overall high water quality of the Apalachicola estuary, with the combined effects of other factors, provide the ideal living conditions for estuarine biota and have resulted in the creation of a highly productive estuarine system. The myriad of habitats found within the Reserve support a wide range of plant and animal species, many of which are threatened or endangered.

Apalachicola River and Bay Ecosystem Plan: A 183-page plan to balance human needs with wildlife needs. Developed by Florida State University for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Army Corp of Engineers.

Corps of Engineers: The various recreation sites on the Chattahoochee, Flint and Apalachicola river system, including various lakes, locks, dams, and campgrounds.

 

Read the original 1999 interviews with key players in the tri-state water war:

Sally Bethea — Executive Director of Upper Chattahoochee River Keeper

Matt Kales — Program Director at Upper Chattahoochee River Keeper

Bob Kerr — Director, Pollution Prevention Assistance Division, Georgia Department of Natural Resources

Steve Leitman — Environmental Scientist, NW FL Water Management District

Woody Miley — Director, Apalachicola National Marine Estuary

Lindsey Thomas — Federal Commissioner of the ACT – ACF River Basin Commission

Now Available: The full transcript of the documentary.

A true “Mother’s Day” story about courtship in Cross Creek

DSC08728Editor’s note: I’m tickled to say that even though he didn’t use his rifle to shoot down this year’s magnolia blossom, my husband kept his Mother’s Day tradition alive this year (2017).

 

 

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Here’s the audio version of the chapter called, “Mother’s Day” by Shelley Fraser Mickle. (full written text with pictures can be found below)

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I’m proud to call Shelley Fraser Mickle a friend.  Shelley is one of the most entertaining writers I’ve ever met.  For many years radio listeners were able to hear her commentaries on life on not only WUFT-FM, but also nationally as she contributed her talent doing commentaries for NPR‘s “Morning Edition.”  She’s also an award-winning author of several novels.

I always looked forward to the days she would come in to the station and record her commentaries because on those days we had the opportunity to catch up on life.  That being said, as a journalist I should have known that some of the “Cross Creek” stories I shared with her would one day make it into print.  I’m actually quite pleased she was listening so closely.  My family is very proud of the chapter she wrote on my Cross Creek romance called, “Mother’s Day.”  She genuinely captured some of the unique qualities of my husband Lee Townsend in our “courting days.”

scan0001Shelley-Fraser-Mickle

(Full text of chapter called “Mother’s Day” from Shelley Fraser Mickle’s book, The Kids are gone; The Dog is Depressed & Mom’s On The Loose.)

 

 

I have a friend who lives at Cross Creek. She moved there over a decade ago from up North, and she would have left probably any number of times except that she fell in love with a man from the Creek. And that made all the difference. Apparently men at the Creek take the romancing of a woman very seriously.

For instance, a first date might be only a midnight fishing trip under a full moon on Orange Lake. It might be a frog gigging, or a beer shared out on a wooden bench near the Creek until it is dark and quiet, so that then you can listen to the alligators bellow in Lochloosa.

scan0001And you’ll know when the courting gets serious if a fella invites you to ride a boat out into the cypress woods after a big rain to watch the water run into the lake.

 

 

 

Let's Go Fishin'But no matter if you are fishing, gigging, or watching water, it’s a pretty sure fact that all the while, a certain magic is being practiced on you. So that afterward, it is very likely, your life will never be the same.

Creek men are aware of their power. And they strut it comfortably. For instance, it was reported that at the Marjorie Rawlings’ house, the staff spotted a snake sneaking into one of the rooms, and out of desperation, called one of the Creek men. After all, a man who has grown up at the Creek knows more than you ever want to know about snakes and how to handle them.

Chicken Snake MKR pump house A 2012-11-04_12-36-26_781As the story goes, this Creek man sauntered up the steps to the house, saying he’d handle that snake, just point him to it. Then went into the room where the snake was and shut the door. In a few minutes he came back out and announced, “That’s a female chicken snake. And it won’t take me but a minute to get her to move on out of here.”  One of the caretakers was really curious and asked, “But how do you know it’s a female snake?”  The creek man didn’t even blink. “Because she quivered when she looked at me,” he said.

sweethearts 1985I guess that really does say it all. Yes, the men at the Creek have a certain powerful charm. And it’s said that everybody knows when a creek man is seriously courting a woman, because that’s the only time he wears shoes.

 

scan0002So after my friend fell under the spell of one and married him, then stayed there to raise a family with him, she had to learn how to take on all sorts of new ways of thinking and saying things.

 

 

 

Pregnant with Ellie

When she became pregnant with their first child, she says she had to relearn how to announce that fact. For out at the Creek no one is ever pregnant. No. Rather it’s that you’re fixin’ to have a youngin’.

 

Baby Ellie

And then when the second one came, it was that she was fixin’ to have another one.Jessie

In fact, my friend says, since she has made her life at the Creek, she has found that almost everything she does has the word fixin’ it it.

File0009Last year on Mother’s Day, she was in the kitchen fixin’ to have a cup of tea when her husband sauntered up behind her, put his arms around her waist, and said to follow him, that he was fixin’ to give her a Mother’s Day present.

 

 

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He then led her outside, and on the way, grabbed his rifle, so that in only a minute they were standing under the giant magnolia that shades the whole side of the backyard. Then he propped his rifle on his shoulder and aimed it up toward the tree.

My friend says the blooms were like round white stars, perfuming the air with a sweetness that was like the smell of warm honey, or of spun sugar. Then her husband said to her, “Pick out one darlin’.”

And when she raised her hand toward a bloom near the top, he focused his eye down the rifle’s barrel and shot it down.

“Happy Mother’s Day,” he said, as he bent down and picked up the sweet white blossom that had fallen at her feet.

Archival videos of the Father of Florida Folk Will McLean

Will McLean performing
Will McLean performing

The Father of Florida Folk, the late Will McLean, loved to entertain and share songs, poems and stories of the lore and legends of Florida.  Unfortunately, most of those performances were not captured on video or audio tape.  When those performances were recorded, it was special indeed.

Here are five such videos.

The first is the January 24, 1990 memorial service for Will at the Thomas Center in Gainesville. On that day in 1990 hundreds of people filled the Thomas Center in Gainesville, FL to capacity. They were all there to pay tribute to the Father of Florida Folk, Will McLean, who had just passed away from cancer a few days before. This archival video features many of his friends sharing not only their own precious stories about Will and how he touched their lives, but also sharing their versions of Will’s original songs. Some of those friends in attendance included Gamble Rogers, Don Grooms, Dale Crider, Jeanie Fitchen, Doug Gaus, Frank and Ann Thomas, Wayne Martin, Dennis Devine, Mary Ann DiNella, Barbara Sheen Todd, Margaret Longhill, Donna Green-Townsend and Bobby Hicks to name a few. There were not only tears, but laughter as many of the speakers shared personal memories demonstrating Will McLean’s sense of humor. Following the ceremony many friends travelled to McLean’s favorite camping spot, Gore’s Landing in Marion County to disperse his ashes into the Ocklawaha River. Will McLean’s desire to “save Florida through music” continues today through a music festival held in his honor. The festival is usually held the 2nd weekend of March at the Sertoma Youth Ranch, 7 miles west of Dade City and near Brooksville. For more information about the Will McLean Festival and Foundation go online to willmclean.com

 

The next four videos were made possible when his music buddy, the late Don Grooms, brought Will to a studio in Gainesville.  The first video is Will singing his most famous song, “Hold Back The Waters,” about the 1928 hurricane that drowned between  three and four thousand people around Lake Okeechobee. (You will see Will when he starts singing at about :24 seconds in)

 

 

Will McLean served during WWII
Will McLean served during WWII

It’s been said Will McLean wrote his song, “Florida Sand,” after returning home from WWII where he had been taken as a POW in the Philippines. When he landed in Florida he kissed the ground and said he would only write about his beloved Florida Sand. In this video his friend Lais provided dance interpretation of the song.

 

 

Early photo of Will McLean's grandparents
Early photo of Will McLean’s grandparents

Will McLean spent many of his early years with his grandfather who took him to a variety of places in Florida. Those travels influenced Will’s songwriting, poems and stories. Many of those writings bring attention to Will’s concern about Florida’s environment. That concern is very evident in his song, “Lament.” Lais also interprets this song through dance.

 

 

Will McLean, Tim DeMass and Don
Will McLean, Tim DeMass and Don Grooms

Today hundreds of singer songwriters have been inspired to write songs about Florida because of Will McLean’s passion for the state. Will’s dear music buddy, the late Don Grooms, wrote one of his most famous songs, “Vitachuko,” because of Will’s inspiration. It’s about the bloody skirmish between Native American Chief Vitachuko and Spanish Explorer Hernando de Soto. Grooms said when he played it for McLean Will said, “Grooms you have finally justified your existence.” In this recording Will accompanies Grooms by playing harmonica. The late Tim DeMass is playing bass. (You will see a closeup of Will on the harmonica at about two minutes into the video and at the end of the song.)

 

To go back to the page “Will McLean: The Father of Florida Folk” CLICK HERE:
To go to the official Will McLean website CLICK HERE
Don Grooms and Will McLean
Don Grooms and Will McLean
Will McLean resting beside his guitar
Will McLean resting beside his guitar

 

 

 

A Gatherin’ In The Live Oaks 4-Part Music Series

From my audio archives:

A Gatherin’ In The Live Oaks

Four One-Hour Music Programs produced from mainstage performances at the 45th Annual Florida Folk Festival in White Springs, FL

(including selections from the archives of other festivals and performances)

Will McLean (14)
The late Will McLean and Paul Champion in the late 1960s to early 1970s

Produced by Bill Beckett and hosted by Donna Green-Townsend with production assistance from Jim Bickerstaff, Ken Crawford, Pete Gallagher and Ray Valla

Part One:

Featuring music from Marie Nofsinger, Valarie Caracappa (Wisecracker), Upsala, Pete Gallagher and the Green Grass Revival, Wingnuts, Vassar Clements, John McCuen, Clyde Walker and Sam Pacetti

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Part Two:

Featuring music from Jeanie Fitchen, Chuck Hardwicke, Ken and Leigh Skeens, Grant Livingston, Frank and Ann Thomas, Dale Crider, Ron and Bari Litschauer, Happy and Patti, Simple Gifts and Mindy Simmons

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Part Three:

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The late Gamble Rogers at the FL Folk Festival

Featuring music and stories from Jim Ballew, Paul Champion, Cush Holston, Will McLean, Cousin Thelma Boltin, Gamble Rogers and Don Grooms.

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Part Four:

Featuring music from Long John Higginbotham, Rock Bottom, James Billie and John Anderson

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