What a memorable Florida Folk Festival for Jessie and Lee Townsend. Thanks to Jeanie Fitchen and Mark Smith for giving special stage time to them this year. There were some magic moments as this brother-sister duo performed “Dumbarton’s Drums” on the historic Old Marble Stage with Jeanie on her 50th year performing at the Florida Folk Festival. Of special note is the fact Jeanie received the first ever “Legacy Award” from the Florida Folk Festival organizers this year.
Another magic moment was having the opportunity to perform the late Jim Ballew’s beautiful song, “When I Die,” on the Ann Thomas River Gazebo Stage. Though Jim Ballew is best known for his incredible guitar picking, it’s been said that the last time he played on the Gazebo Stage he played “When I Die” on a banjo in honor of his music buddy and great banjo player, the late Paul Champion. It was especially memorable to Lee and the band to learn about that memory since Lee just happened to play banjo on the song that day. As they performed you could hear the audience singing along. It was a goosebump moment for sure. Jessie and Lee were joined by Andy Garfield on guitar and David McBrady on bass.
Jessie and Lee’s performance set at the River Gazebo Stage included a variety of songs that will soon be added to their latest CD project which they’re calling, “Tribute.” In all there will be 12 songs which pay tribute to some of Florida’s best songwriters past and present and more. Six songs have already been mastered and are available on their CD Sampler. In addition to “When I Die,” (the song above) the upcoming CD will feature a song originally written by environmental troubadour Dale Crider from Windsor, FL. Here are Jessie, Lee, Andy Garfield and David McBrady performing, “Oh Kissimmee River” which points out the environmental boondoggle of the government for trying to straighten Florida’s Kissimmee River.
Gainesville Singer-Songwriter Mark Smith asked Jessie and Lee to join him on the River Gazebo Stage on the last day of the Florida Folk Festival to sing one of his songs, “Florida Lullabye.”
It’s a tradition to end the final set on the Gazebo Stage at the Florida Folk Festival with the performers and audience singing together on “Old Folks At Home.”