Tag Archives: Dale Crider

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

 

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 – 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 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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Archival television program features many of Florida’s greatest folk songwriters

The late Don Grooms and Jim Billie
The late Don Grooms and James Billie

The 1988 Pines and Palms television program hosted by the late Don Grooms featured several singer songwriters who have since passed on. They may have left this earthly life, but their music lives on. Their songs can still be heard on the stages of many music festivals around the state.

In 1988, Grooms who was working as a telecommunication professor at the University of Florida, gathered together several of his greatest music friends including Bobby Hicks from the Tampa area, Seminole Chief James Billie from South Florida, Frank and Ann Thomas from Lake Wales and Dale and Linda Crider from Windsor.

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The program was recorded in the studios of WUFT-TV in Gainesville. This is a very rare recording as many of the archival tapes from that time period have been destroyed or have been lost. Thanks to Frank Counts who was the producer-director for this program, this copy still exists. Frank was a telecommunication assistant professor at UF and worked for 37 years as the Production Manager for WUFT-TV before his retirement in 2010.

The program ran nearly an hour.  To make it easier to watch, the program is broken up into four separate segments below:

Pines and Palms Part 1

Part 1 includes Bobby Hicks singing, “I’m Florida Need I Say More,” Frank and Ann Thomas singing, “Cracker Cowman,” and Don Grooms singing, “Winnebago.”

Pines and Palms Part 2

Part 2 includes James Billie singing his “Big Alligator” song and a song about a bashful star.  Also featured are two songs from Dale and Linda Crider: “Under the Southern Bald Eagle” and “Last Live Photo”

Pines and Palms Part 3

Part 3 includes Don Grooms as he sings “Vitachuko.” Bobby Hicks sings his Condo/Hurricane song.  Frank and Ann Thomas sing their song “Buttermilk Biscuits” and their song about “Sam Jones.”  James Billie sings his song “Back To The Swamp.”

Pines and Palms Part 4

Part 4 includes Bobby Hicks singing a song about “Zachariah Creech,” Dale and Linda Crider perform their “Proof In the Wild Turkey Sign,” and Don Grooms sings, “Walk Proud My Son.”

The Jessie and Lee Townsend Band’s Will McLean Festival Highlights

Will McLean logo 2016

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Jessie and Lee Townsend along with Andy Garfield and David McBrady performing on the Azalea Stage at the 2016 Will McLean Festival near Brooksville, FL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 2016 Will McLean Music Festival was a tremendous success for the Jessie and Lee Townsend Band.  If you didn’t have an opportunity to go, you can watch a few of their performances on the Magnolia, Azalea and Cypress Stages below.  Thanks to Red Henry, Andy Garfield and David McBrady for lending their musical talents to the weekend.  Jessie and Lee couldn’t have done it without you.

The overall goal of their music sets was to honor many of the Florida songwriters who have passed on, but who have left a wonderful legacy with their music including Will McLean, Don Grooms, Jim Ballew, and Ann Thomas. They also wanted to include music from two of their favorite musicians, environmental troubadour Dale Crider and the father of bluegrass, Bill Monroe.

 

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Dale Crider and Lee Townsend

In the 1970s  Dale Crider from Windsor was working as a wildlife biologist for the Florida Game and Freshwater Fish Commission.  Through his job he saw firsthand the negative effects on the environment of the government’s decision to straighten the Kissimmee River in Florida and wrote a song about it.  Here is the Jessie and Lee Townsend Band’s rendition of Dale’s song, “Oh Kissimmee River.”

 

Will McLean waiting to perform
Will McLean waiting to perform

The late Will McLean (1919-1990) wrote hundreds of songs, stories and poems.  Many were about Florida’s critters and unique characters as well as Florida history.  He also wrote a love song called, “Macclenny Farewell.”  Here is Jessie and Lee’s version of that song accompanied by Andy Garfield on guitar and David McBrady on bass on the Azalea Stage at the festival.

 

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Jessie and Lee Townsend performing Crying Bird on the Magnolia Stage at the 2016 Will McLean Festival

Will McLean loved to write about Florida’s unique creatures….from sea turtles crawling up on the beach on Conch Island to sandhill cranes and panthers.  He also wrote a beautiful song about the Florida Limpkin called, “Cryin’ Bird.”  Here is Jessie and Lee’s interpretation of that song performed on the Magnolia Stage during the Hour of Power at the festival.

 

Jim Ballew
The late Jim Ballew performing at the Florida Folk Festival (photo courtesy of the FL State Archives)

The late Jim Ballew often played with the late Gamble Rogers, Paul Champion and Will McLean at festivals around the state.  He was not only a great musician, but a fine songwriter.  One of his most beautiful songs was called, “When I Die.”  Jessie and Lee Townsend recently learned this beautiful song and were accompanied by Red Henry on fiddle, Andy Garfield on guitar and David McBrady on bass on the Cypress Stage at the Will McLean Festival.

 

Frank and Ann Thomas
Frank and Ann Thomas performing at the Florida Folk Festival (photo courtesy of the State of FL archives)

Frank and Ann Thomas entertained Florida audiences for decades. Many of their songs capture Florida history.  The late Ann Thomas also had a comical side as in her song, “Lost Tourist’s Letter Home.”  Here is the Jessie and Lee Townsend Band’s rendition of her song performed on the Azalea Stage.

 

Don Grooms in an early performance photo
Don Grooms in an early performance photo

The late Don Grooms wrote some very funny songs….but he also had some very serious and poignant songs such as Vitachuko and Tsali about important native American leaders.  In “Wild Birds” he wrote about a difficult relationship where one of the persons just couldn’t stay in one place for long.  Here is the Jessie and Lee Townsend Band’s version of the song performed on the Cypress Stage.

 

 

Another highlight for Jessie and Lee at the 2016 Will McLean Music Festival was the opportunity to participate in a special tribute to longtime Will McLean Foundation Director, Margaret Longhill on Saturday night.  Jessie and Lee represented the young people who have been inspired by Longhill to perform Florida songs.  During the presentation they performed Will McLean’s love song, “Macclenny Farewell.”  They were joined on stage by bass player David McBrady.  The song is about 27 minutes into the presentation below:

 

 

Bluegrass jam 3
Jessie and Lee Townsend along with Andy Garfield, Red Henry and David McBrady jamming at the Will McLean Festival

Jessie and Lee love bluegrass music, especially Bill Monroe tunes.  Here are three versions of Bill Monroe’s Lonesome Wind Blues.  The first is from their set on the Cypress Stage with some great picking by Red Henry, Andy Garfield and David McBrady at the Cypress Stage.

 

Bill Monroe
The late Father of Bluegrass, Bill Monroe

The Jessie and Lee Townsend band also performed Bill Monroe’s song, “Lonesome Wind Blues” on the Azalea Stage.

 

And here’s the version of the song while jamming in the parking lot:

 

Cypress Stage 3
(From left to right) Andy Garfield, Lee Townsend, Jessie Townsend and Red Henry

Lee Townsend and Andy Garfield have been performing together since they played in a high school bluegrass band at P.K. Yonge High School in Gainesville. Since then they’ve performed at a wide variety of events and festivals in North Central Florida.  Here they are performing, ” Up 18 North,” written by the Kruger Brothers, on the Azalea Stage at the 2016 Will McLean Festival.

 

Jessie and Lee Townsend’s CD, “Tribute” Now Available

DSC_0081Jessie and Lee have recorded their first professional CD at Gatorbone Studios in Keystone Heights.  Click here to listen to song samples and to find out how to order one.

 

 

 

Will McLean performing

Will McLean: The Father of Florida Folk

Click here to hear full length archival interviews with Will McLean  (recorded by Donna Green-Townsend in 1985 & 1987)

CD cover for a live recording by WUFT of Florida's Black Hat Troubadour, Will McLean, just 5 years before his death in 1990.
CD cover for a live recording by WUFT of Florida’s Black Hat Troubadour, Will McLean, just 5 years before his death in 1990.

Will McLean is considered the “Father of Florida Folk.”  The “Black Hat Troubadour” travelled all across his beloved state writing hundreds of poems, songs and stories.  After his death in 1990 he was inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame.  Each year Florida singer songwriters gather at the Will McLean Folk Festival to honor him.  McLean wanted to save Florida through his music.  Each year the Will McLean Foundation holds a “Best New Florida Song Contest” to keep McLean’s mission alive.

Don Grooms sings 3 of his best songs late 70s or early 80s.mp4.Still005To watch archival video of Will McLean CLICK HERE:

 

 

 

 

Will McLean waiting to perform
Will McLean waiting to perform

Donna Green-Townsend interviewed McLean 5 years before his death in 1985 and again in 1987.  She also talked with some of the musicians who were inspired to write about Florida because of Will McLean.  (Scroll down to see the full feature transcript.  You can also hear Will’s most popular songs below)  

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In 1988 Will McLean joined storyteller Cousin Thelma Boltin and his music buddy Gamble Rogers in Cross Creek, FL for the 50th Anniversary of “The Yearling” celebration at the farm of the late Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.  See a few snippets from a rare video recorded at that event below:

 

Sign dedicated to Will McLean at Gore's Landing
Sign at Gore’s Landing

On January 24th, 1990, following a Memorial Service at Gainesville’s Historic Thomas Center, friends gathered at Gore’s Landing to disperse Will McLean’s ashes into the Ocklawaha River.  Before he died, McLean told Margaret Longhill that he had hoped to light a small campfire one last time at Gore’s Landing, his favorite campsite.

 

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Gamble Rogers speaking at the dedication at Gore’s Landing

Some of those in attendance were Margaret Longhill, Don Grooms, Dale Crider and family, Donna Green-Townsend and family, Wayne Martin and Bobby Hicks to name a few.  In this brief recording, you will hear a small portion of that special ceremony at the river:

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Doug Gauss Gamble Rogers and Sanda Jemison 1 24 1990Here is the audio of the eulogy given by the late Gamble Rogers (inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame in 1998) at the memorial service for Will McLean in January of 1990

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Transcription of the feature above:

Will McLean performing
Will McLean performing (photo courtesy of the Will McLean Foundation)

Will McLean, “It’s very important that Florida keep her past and I’m but one of the few writers and I have not even scratched the surface of the richness and the deepness of the lore and legends of Florida.” (Florida Sand)  

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Singer Songwriter Pete Seeger, a good friend of Will McLean
Singer Songwriter Pete Seeger, a good friend of Will McLean

Musician Pete Seeger once wrote,  “Will McLean’s songs will be sung as long as there is a Florida.”  McLean lived a simple life, always steering away from fame and fortune just when it seemed he had achieved it.  Most of the time he travelled the state in dilapidated vehicles, only taking with him a bag of taters and onions, a fishing hook and a bottle of cheap wine, pawning many of his guitars.  In a never-before aired interview, McLean shared his story in 1985, just five years before his death.

Will McLean, “I’m a millionaire a million times over.  I’m not talking about money rich.  I’m rich in the beauty of Florida and nature.”

That earthy spirit lives on today in many of the Florida songwriters attending the annual Will McLean Music Festival named in his honor. Singer Songwriter from Windsor, Dale Crider, “I think he made a lot of people in Florida aware that they could write and sing and dance and perform Florida.”

Will McLean years ago holding something
Will McLean by his travel van (photo courtesy of the Will McLean Foundation)

Florida’s Black Hat Troubadour was known for his genteel manner, but his voice thundered on the marble stage of the Florida Folklife Festival in White Springs as he captured stories in song about green turtles laying eggs on the shores of St. Augustine (Conch Island)

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and Sandhill Cranes in Payne’s Prairie, and some not so pretty stories about a wild hog in Gulf Hammock  (Wild Hog) 

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and a panther chase resulting in a deadly encounter with a snake in Tate’s Hell. (Tate’s Hell)  

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Don Grooms & Will McLean
Don Grooms & Will McLean sitting on stage. (photo courtesy of the Will McLean Foundation)

Singer-Songwriter Don Grooms was one of Will McLean’s closest musical buddies, “Will liked songs about individual human beings and if you pay attention to his repertoire of songs there was Cush Holston, Scotty the drummer, the guy in Tate’s Hell, Osceola.”  (Osceola)  

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Will McLean inspired many songwriters to explore the heritage of the state and themselves.  Grooms, a Native American, remembers how McLean encouraged him to write the story of the bloody skirmish between the Spanish explorers and Native Americans in Payne’s Prairie.

Don Grooms,  “I came up with a five minute song called “Vitachuco” and I played it for Will and he said play that for me again and after I finished he said, ‘Grooms you have finally justified your existence.”  (Vitachuco)   

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Dale & Linda Crider years ago
Early performance photo of Dale and Linda Crider after he started writing Florida songs inspired by Will McLean. (Photo courtesy of Dale Crider)

One of the first singer/songwriters to carry on Will McLean’s love for Florida through song is musician and wildlife biologist Dale Crider.  Crider has entertained national and international audiences with his wildlife and wilderness songs, and he credits his beginning to Will McLean:  (Hold Back The Waters)  

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Dale Crider,  “Hold Back the Waters was the song that started my whole career in writing about the environment.  Will was singing that on stage at the Florida Folklife Festival and I said, ya, ya, if it can be that good you know to sing about a place or a region or an object in Florida, I can do that.”

Both Dale Crider and Don Grooms helped to disperse Will McLean’s ashes into the Ocklawaha River on January 18th, 1990.  Dale emotionally recalls how his friend’s last wishes coincided so well with his on-going desire to return to the land where the wind is born.

Dale Crider,  “And I envisioned that that night there were herons and egrets that caught minnows that had Will’s ashes in them and flew him up to the tree tops and roosted him that night and actually his soul could have been transferred to something like a hawk.” (My Soul Is A Hawk)

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Painting of Will McLean by Mary Ann Dinella
Painting of Will McLean by Mary Ann DiNella

The Will McLean Music Festival honoring the Father of Florida Folk is held each March at the Sertoma Youth Ranch located seven miles west of Dade City in Central Florida.  For more information go to the website www.willmclean.com.

 

 

 

 

Will loved to watch the Florida Sandhill Cranes “dance and prance” on Payne’s Prairie near Gainesville, FL.  One of his more beloved songs described the experience.  Here’s a video recorded of sandhill cranes produced by Donna Green-Townsend with Will singing his “Courtship Dance of the Florida Sandhill Crane” to music played by musician and luthier David Beede and Kate Kennedy (music recorded at one of Will’s last live recorded concerts at the historic Thomas Center in Gainesville in Nov. of 1985).

 

Will McLean and Cousin Thelma Boltin Share Christmas Memories  (aired on WUFT in December of 1987)

Lottie and Will McLean at young ages
Early photo of Will McLean and his sister Lottie (photo courtesy of the Will McLean Foundation)

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Transcription of the Feature:  (Oh Christmas Tree)  Computerized teddy bears and video cassette recorders are a long way from the gifts of fruit and simple toys of Christmases past.  Folklorist Cousin Thelma Boltin and singer song writer  Will McLean share some of their most memorable Christmases.

Cousin Thelma Boltin:  “In early times everybody went out and cut their own Christmas trees.  It was unthinkable to buy a tree and there was no such thing as an artificial tree.  That would have been disgraceful to have an artificial tree.  And it was always a great day when we decided we’d go get the tree and we didn’t get it too long before Christmas.  But in the early days we’d go out with the horse and wagon and then in modern times we’d go out in the model T or in the Coca Cola Truck because my daddy was the Coca Cola man.  And we loved to get a Cedar, that was our favorite kind. But if we couldn’t find a Cedar, as they got scarce, um, we’d get a shortleaf pine.  It smells so wonderful in the house.  It’s a little more difficult to decorate than the Cedar and a Cypress was pretty but boy it was sticky and hard to handle and do anything with.  And once or twice I can remember, and this was before our Cedar was protected, and thank goodness it is protected, it’s against the law to cut Cedar down anywhere, I mean cut Holly, and we would get a Holly tree. And of course that was sticky, but it was beautiful because especially if it were full of berries.” (OH CHRISTMAS TREE).

Cousin Thelma Boltin
Cousin Thelma Boltin (photo courtesy of Will McLean Foundation)

Cousin Thelma Boltin:  “We never did decorate our tree until Christmas Eve and we used the parlor on state occasions and this was a state occasion so the fire would be built in the fireplace and the candles put on the mantlepiece and then we’d decorate our tree.  In early days, I don’t believe, we never did put candles on our tree.  Momma considered that too dangerous and we hailed with delight the day when we could get strings of electric lights to put on the tree.  And of course, it was easy to get pretty ornaments from Woolworths and from what was the other ten cent store, we had two in town, McCrowry’s  and get beautiful ornaments.  We never did string popcorn to go on our tree but we put ropes of tinsel on it.  And oh we just thought our tree was the prettiest one in the neighborhood of course.  A child asked me today if we ever slept in the living room you know with the tree and we said ‘oh no, Santy Claus couldn’t come if we stayed with the Christmas tree.  But of course we were up long before day to see what Santy had left us.” (Jolly ‘Ole St. Nick)

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

Will McLean:  “Well, my first recollection is of a contraption bought that you could ride on.  I got a little ‘ole bitty, tiny kind of like a kitty car thing.  It was all painted up good uh, kind of a tricycle and I don’t know why I thought about that.  It was the first thing that came to my mind.  And of course over the fireplace we’d hang uh an old knit, Thelma you remember those old socks that uh they used to cost about a nickel a pair, old red and blue socks.  Kind of cotton socks.  We’d nail them up over the mantel and this was Christmas Eve.” (Silent Night)

Will & puppy
Will McLean, Florida’s Black Hat Troubadour (photo courtesy of the Will McLean Foundation)

Will McLean:  “Lady Boltin asked me once about if I could recall shootin’ firecrackers on Christmas.  And uh, I couldn’t remember ever at that early stage, early Christmases, shootin’ any kind of a firecracker or explosives.  But to get back to the stockin’ and Christmas mornin’, uh most the times I would have a little ‘ole 25 cent American Ace harmonica in the stockin’ wrapped in tissue paper and I’d have a piece of ‘ole peppermint stick candy and usually an apple, and an orange and a banana and I hope this won’t create any problems, three little nuts that uh, they were Brazil nuts.  You remember what we used to call them?(laugh) But anyway, that was Christmas and of course on Christmas Day the big ‘ole table in the dining room.  There’d be about 25 or 30 people there.  And kids runnin’ around everywhere.  All the families and mothers and their children there.  Uh, lord you could just smell the wonderful, wonderful and that, those were my Christmases up until I was about nine years of age.  And it’s good to go back there and think about it in time and place, be with my granddaddy and the people that I loved and who loved me.” (Chesnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)

Cousin Thelma Boltin, Gamble Rogers and Will McLean 1988 50th Anniv of The Yearling in Cross Creek (photo by Iris Greenfield)

Cousin Thelma Boltin:  “One of the things that we always got, we wore them out one year to the next were skates. We loved Skates and always asked Santy to bring us skates (laugh).  And always on Christmas Eve for supper we had oyster stew.  That was the Christmas Eve supper ‘cuz it was easy to fix and everybody liked it.  We could do it in a hurry and get in the living room to fix the tree (chuckle).  And that went on for many, many years.  And then I went off to college and I shocked the neighbors by not going to FSU or Florida State College for women in those days.  They weren’t allowed.  Ladies didn’t go to the University until the late 40s you know.  So I went to Emmerson College in Boston and that was truly Yankee land in everyway and so I had my first White Christmas up there.  (White Christmas) I was such a long way away that I stayed up there for the Christmas holidays and I had made friends with a fellow freshman.  Her name was Juliet Phillips and she took pity on me and invited me out to her home in Jamaica Plain and oh it was a thrill.  Everybody in Jamaica Plain it seemed to me put lighted candles in their windows from the attic to the basement and to get out on the street and see all those candles just after dark was a thrilling thing.  And we decided that we would go into Boston.  This was on Christmas Eve and up on Beacon Hill there was a tradition of having carol singers and bellringers and no cars were allowed up there.  Everybody walked.  And uh, many homes up there had open house and they’d be serving oh hot cider and goodies, doughnuts and the carol singers would be first on this corner and then on that corner.  And then we’d come upon the bellringers.  Then right at midnight over on the piazza a beautiful old Trinity church uh trumpeters stepped out and played ‘Oh Come All Ye Faithful’.” (Oh Come All Ye Faithful)

Many of Will McLean’s stories, poems, music recordings and photos are now being housed in the Special Collections area of the George A. Smathers Libraries at the University of Florida. Gallery of Photos below are courtesy of the Will McLean Foundation

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Click here to go back to the Will McLean Festival Website

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honoring the late guitar-picking, storyteller Gamble Rogers

Cousin Thelma Boltin, Gamble Rogers and Will McLean 1988 50th Anniv of The Yearling in Cross Creek
Cousin Thelma Boltin, Gamble Rogers and Will McLean in 1988 at the 50th Anniv. of The Yearling in Cross Creek (photo by Iris Greenfield)

Every spring St. Augustine  plays host for the annual Gamble Rogers Festival.  The festival honors the late singer songwriter who joins the late Will McLean in the Florida Artists Hall of Fame.

Rogers is known for his Travis-style guitar fingerpicking along with his storytelling which brings a mythical Florida county called Oklawaha into the national spotlight.

On October 10, 1991 Rogers lost his life while trying to save a drowning tourist off Flager Beach.

 

Sec. of State Sandra Mortham presenting Gamble's wife Nancy with the Artist Hall of Fame Award
Sec. of State Sandra Mortham presenting Gamble’s wife Nancy with the Artists Hall of Fame Award

On Memorial Weekend 1998, during the Florida Folk Festival, the then Florida Secretary of State, Sandra Mortham, publicly inducted the late Gamble Rogers into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame.

Rogers has joined the likes of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Will Mclean and Ray Charles in the Florida Artists Hall of Fame. He already has a middle school, state recreation area and a folk festival named in his honor.

Donna Green-Townsend reports on the successful musical career leading up to the induction.

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1998 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in 1988
1998 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

During the induction ceremony at the Florida Folk Festival in White Springs Dale Crider performed, “Song for Gamble,” written by Steve Gillette and Cindy Mangsen.  Crider was accompanied by Elisabeth Williamson on guitar and vocals and Barbara Johnson on bass.

Here’s audio of the trio practicing the song earlier that afternoon in the campground before the evening ceremony:

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In this rare footage, taken by an amateur photographer at the 50th anniversary of “The Yearling” at the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings State Historic Site in Cross Creek in 1988, Rogers joined his folk colleagues, the late Cousin Thelma Boltin and the late Father of Florida Folk Will McLean, to share stories and songs.  The short video opens with McLean singing his beloved, “Florida Sand” followed by McLean introducing his friend Gamble.

 

 

Here’s a video of Gamble performing Black Label Blues:

 

 

In the following interview Gamble’s friends Steve Gillette, Cindy Mangsen and Dale Crider reflect on their long time relationship with the nationally acclaimed guitar player.

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The Gatherings (26-Part Music Series Recorded at various Florida festivals and venues)

Musicians perform Apalachicola Doin' Time finale at the Florida Folk Festival in 2000The Gatherings – Folk and Blues From The Land of Flowers   26 part live-music series

(Producer- Bill Beckett and Host- Donna Green-Townsend)

 

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Program #1- Dale Crider & Roy Bookbinder 

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Program #2 Al ScortinoCarrie Blackwell Lon and Lis Williamson 

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Program #3 Sue Grooms & Ron and Bari 

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Program #4 Mark Smith – Grant Livingston Paul Garfinkel

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Program #5 James Hawkins & Frank and Ann Thomas 

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Program #6 Valerie Caracappa – Boomslang Bobby Hicks 

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Program #7 Under the Water Lilies – Rod MacDonald – Blue Velvet

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Program #8 Patchwork & Jim and Jesse and the Virginia Boys 

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Program #9 Steve Blackwell & Marie Nofsinger 

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Program #10 Don Grooms Tribute

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Program #11 The Spiritual Consolators & Pam Laws 

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Program #12 Art Crummer & Bill Wharton and the Ingredients 

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Program #13 The Spiritual Consolators & TC Carr and the Catch 

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Program #14 Upsala and Sno Rogers

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Program #15 Tammerlin 

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Program #16 Mindy Simmons 

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Program #17 Dinella and Gieger & Ken Skeens and Leigh Goldsmith

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Program #18 Jeanie Fitchen 

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Program #19 Clyde Walker 

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Program #20 Magda Hiller 

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Program #21 Sam Pacetti 

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Program #22 Harvey Reid 

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Program #23 Destination Still Unknown 

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Program #24 CD Sampler

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Program #25 Campfire Tapes 

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Program #26 Studio Tapes 

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Water levels improving on Alachua County lakes

DSC00381
Boat ramp at MKR park in March, 2014
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Boat ramp at MKR Park in September, 2013

 

Business has picked up in the Cross Creek area in the past few weeks thanks to heavy rainfall during the first three months of this year.  Lake levels are up in Orange and Lochloosa Lakes in Alachua County resulting in more boat traffic in recent weeks.   People are fishing and airboating once again.

For many months boaters couldn’t navigate Cross Creek to get in to either lake because of dense plant growth due to low rainfall.  According to the St. John’s River Water Management District, Alachua County received 14.28 inches of rain between January 1st and March 18th.  That’s 11.33 inches more than the same period last year.  The Keystone Heights area has received 14.35 inches since January 1st, which is 12.02 inches more than the same period last year.

Local residents in Cross Creek say that in the past week they observed the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission releasing 125,000 fingerling bass in Orange Lake. Area residents are calling this a positive move to help recreational fishing for the near future.

Original Story in September, 2013

2013-09-10_15-50-48_978
Cross Creek Lodge owner Gary Palmeter stands near grass-filled boat slips

 

By Donna Green-Townsend and Amanda Jackson

Cross Creek Lodge once catered to fishermen, hunters, and people with a love for the great outdoors.  But with lake levels staying low for many years it seems the lodge will never thrive as it did in the past. Owner and operator of the Cross Creek Lodge Gary Palmeter opened the doors to his business, which sits on the creek between Orange and Lochloosa Lakes, more than three decades ago.  With lake levels constantly rising and falling he has only been able to operate for 12 of the 33 years he’s been in business.  (Video below includes interviews with Dale Crider on Newnans Lake and with Gary Palmeter on the Cross Creek area)

“I’m losing a lot of money every year, we used to have a cafe, that’s gone,” says Gary Palmeter, “Had we had enough water we could have probably maintained that. If the state would do something about the hunter permits that they allow people to use we could have hunters here. Right now we have hunters, a few of them for maybe like 2 months.  We used to have a number of people that stayed here through the hunting season, but if they don’t get a permit, which is a lottery type thing, they don’t come. That’s a loss to not only the community but the county because that’s tourist dollars, out the window!”

Palmeter says he feels there’s more to this problem than just rain. A sinkhole under Orange Lake, which is a major source of contention between Marion and Alachua counties, is also thought to be draining a large amount of water from the lake.

“So that’s you know the crux of the problem besides the rain.  I mean yeah, we get water levels and I understand that we’re not going to maintain a high level, but with the water continually flowing out of the lakes there’s nothing that’s ever going to be done to help stabilize them.”

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Low water level at the boat ramp at the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings State Park

But for those who think that large amounts of rain that accompany Florida summers can refill the extremely low lakes, Palmeter knows the reprieve is only temporary.

“Even when we got the two hurricanes that came late in 2004 if I remember right, that water only held for 18 months. It was up sufficiently so that we could have boats here launch.  We had boat and motor rentals again. And we’re not going to go through that again I don’t think.”

For now, boats slips at the Cross Creek Lodge are filled with grass instead of boats. Other local businesses have been suffering as well. Although it is still open for business, the Yearling Restaurant in Cross Creek, is up for sale. With continued limited lake access Palmeter says its hard to keep these businesses running.

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Though the business is still open, there’s a for sale sign in front of the Yearling Restaurant in Cross Creek

“We still keep the motel going and we try to keep the campground going the best we can, but the motel hasn’t done anything because most of the people that want to come here to stay are fishermen.  The first thing when they call I explain the situation.  And I like to be up front with people, and as a result it probably in some way hurts our business.  But I kept thinking in the long term it would improve but it hasn’t. We’ve lost our base of business, the fishermen that used to come here.  They call and sometimes want to bring their son to where they used to fish.  Well, they can’t do that anymore.  So you’ve really lost your whole base of business.”

Alachua County Environmental Protection Director Chris Bird says that no matter how much it has been debated over the past 50 years there isn’t anything that can be done to the Orange Lake sinkhole without causing even more damage.

“The geology of that lake is such that if you did try to plug them up, the sinks in the bottom of the lake, assuming you thought it was a good idea, most likely what would happen is that there would just be other sinks that would open up other places because there’s just a lot of pressure,” says Bird.  “And the way that system naturally flows is that actually the southern part of Orange Lake is recharge.  They’ve actually done dive trace studies that suggest that that water is draining back into the aquifer.  And it’s part of the Silver springshed, so again, there’s just a lot of important relationships.  And because of that, at least in my opinion, it would not be wise to start trying to mess with mother nature.”

To see a music video highlighting lake levels click below:

Orange and Lochloosa lakes are not the only lakes experiencing low levels in Alachua County. Newnans Lake has also felt these water fluctuations. Retired wetlands and wildlife biologist for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Dale Crider has seen the level changes while living by the lake. Crider says the situation is not much different from the water level issues in Keystone Heights.

“I think it’s like most north Florida lakes that it’s tied in to the Floridan aquifer which is overpumped and underfed right now because we’re not getting the rains we used to,” says Crider, “and it’s overpumped from all sources from municipal to agriculture to you name it.  It seems like there’s such a capacity for this water to be soaked up and disappear through sinkholes and underground terrain.  You know there’s not this capacity to fill up the aquifer so that it bubbles above the surface anymore.”

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Water line on a cypress tree on the shore of Newnans Lake shows how much the water level has dropped in just a couple of weeks

Crider pointed to a tree where the water level line was three weeks ago which showed how far it had decreased in a short time. He says it demonstrates the lakes still aren’t healthy

“There’s still this suction kind of thing and I don’t think this flood that we’ve had made that big of an impression for that long that it would have filled up the aquifer to where we can go back to using water normally.  I don’t think we’ll ever reach that point where what we used to call normal use of water for watering our lawn or just filling our swimming pool more frequently or whatever we do with it, I think those days are past.”

Something Crider and Palmeter both agree on is that county officials and water regulators will need to do a better job of overseeing Florida’s water resources.

These Diamonds

scan0005The late Will McLean spent his life writing songs to save Florida through music.  Now the foundation named after the father of Florida folk is marketing an environmental CD trying to continue McLean’s lifelong mission.  The acoustic CD features musicians from across the Sunshine State singing about a wide variety of environmental stories and issues.  As Donna Green-Townsend reports even the CD title, These Diamonds carries a story behind it.

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Florida musicians included on the CD are:

The Eagles Fly – Mindy Simmons

Lullaby of the Rivers – Bob Patterson

Rose and the Gold – Mem Semmes

Cracker CowmanFrank Thomas

Florida Pines – Paul Garfinkel

Paw Prints in the Sand – Ken Skeens

These Diamonds – Grant Livingston

Turtle Tears – Amy Carol Webb

Rand McNally Map of Florida – Jim Bickerstaff

Plumes – Steve Blackwell

Apalachicola Doin’ Time – Dale Crider

Song For Our Children – Mary Ann Dinella