Tag Archives: Florida

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.)

 

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Don Grooms and Will McLean
Don Grooms and Will McLean
Will McLean resting beside his guitar
Will McLean resting beside his guitar

 

 

 

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings: Memories of her life and times in Cross Creek

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings & Cracker Culture
A video written and produced by University of Florida Student Monica Berra.  Script Editing assistance and narration by Donna Green-Townsend

 

Two versions of a video produced by Dorsey Lee Townsend III for a class project while in Santa Fe College:

 (Longer version with additional interview added)

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A video distributed by Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection called, “Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park”

 

History of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings featuring MKR reenactor Betty Jean Steinshouer produced by Visit Gainesville.

 

Interviews regarding the scheduled play, “Invasion of Privacy” which took to the stage of the Fine Arts Hall of Santa Fe College in June of 2015. The interviewees were on the Ilene Silverman Show.

 

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The old Alachua County Courthouse in Gainesville, FL

The 1946 “Invasion of Privacy Trial” of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings vs. Zelma Cason has captivated lawyers and literary experts alike.  On June 18th thru June 20th, 2015 the public got a flavor of the famous trial  when the award-winning play by Larry Parr, “Invasion of Privacy,” took to the stage of the Fine Arts Hall at Santa Fe College.

It was after Marjorie Rawlings won the Pulitizer Prize for “The Yearling” that she continued her success with her book, “Cross Creek,” a book which captured what her life was like as well as her neighbors in the small fishing community.  But one friend of Rawlings, Zelma Cason, didn’t take “too kindly” to the way Rawlings described her in her book and decided to sue the famous author.  Click here to read more about this famous legal case.

Park Ranger Lee Townsend being interviewed on November 13th, 2009 at the MKR home about Marjorie’s life at the “Creek.”

 

A video interview with author J. T. Glisson about Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and Cross Creek for Putnam Schools TV.

 

Shelley-Fraser-MickleA True “Mother’s Day” Story About Romance in Cross Creek by Shelley Fraser Mickle

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.

 Click here to read more…

 

Cross Creek Summer

MKR on her porchThe first  weekend in August of 1997 kicked off the first annual Cross Creek Summer, Arts and Culture in Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’ Florida.  Organizers hoped the week-long event would introduce people to the Florida Rawlings loved and attract those ecotourists looking for the real Florida. To hear the report produced by Donna Green-Townsend  Click here

 

 

50th Anniversary of “The Yearling” Celebration on the MKR farm in Cross Creek in April of 1988
Includes rare video of the late Idella Parker, Cousin Thelma Boltin, Will McLean and Gamble Rogers.

 

Video with interesting pictures of Marjorie, though not all the facts are precise.

 

1979 video talking about the architecture of the MKR home in Cross Creek

The Cades’ Christmas Display Near Orange Springs, A Gift to the Community

For 19 years the public has been treated to a beautiful Christmas display of lights near Orange Springs, just a few miles north of Ft. McCoy. Charlie and Sally Cade say the light show is the family’s gift to the community.  Charlie says he has fond memories of his years growing up in Miami when his family couldn’t afford a lot at Christmas time.  He remembers how his family would drive around the city to see Christmas lights.  Now his family’s display of more than 200-thousand lights is a way of providing that joyful experience for others.

More than 450 yard figures dazzle thousands of children and adult visitors alike.  Charlie encourages everyone to sign his guest book.  The Cades’ walk-thru Christmas light display is free to the public through New Year’s Day from 6 to 10 p.m.  It’s located at 23373 NE 112th Ct, Orange Springs, FL 32182.

2014 Will McLean Song Contest Winner and Finishers

Here are the winner, 2nd, and 3rd place finishers of the 2014 Will McLean Best New Florida Song Contest: (39 entries)

Will McLean performing
The late Will McLean

Here’s a look back at the top 3 winners of the 2014 Will McLean Best New Florida Song Contest along with video clips of them performing their winning song on the main stage at the 2014 festival.

 

 

 

Jane Fallon Song Contest Winner 2014 A
1st place winner Jane Fallon

The 2014 first place winner was Jane Fallon from Brookline, NH.  Her song entitled “Before the Fire (Rosewood)”  captures the emotional story and resulting fear from the 1923 Rosewood tragedy in North Central Florida.   Jane has been a finalist in several songwriting competitions such as SolarFest , the Ossipee Music Festival and the prestigious Rose Garden Coffeehouse Competition. Her songs have placed 2nd and 3rd  respectively in the Neuse River MusicFest competition and the West Coast Songwriters Competition.

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Larry Mangum
2nd place Larry Mangum

The 2014 second place finisher Larry Mangum is from Jacksonville.  His song entitled “Florida” describes the beauty of the Sunshine State and why he’s proud to call it home. Mangum has given nearly 3000 performances over 4 decades as a folk, rock, country and Americana artist. He’s released 8 albums of original music and 2 live albums since 1980.  In 2006 he won third place in the Will Mclean Song contest with his tribute to Gamble Rogers, “The Last Troubadour.”  He is also host and co-founder of “The Songwriters’ Circle” in Jacksonville, a monthly program featuring many of the best regional and national touring acts.

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Third place Ray Sealey

The 2014 third place finisher was Ray Sealey from Harrington, QC.  His song “Kissimmee Prairie Dream” gives the flavor of Central Florida’s early years in the Kissimmee area. Ray was born in England and received a degree in English Literature after emigrating to Canada.  He was involved in folk music in his early years but then turned to classical guitar. He eventually taught music at the Universities of Western Ontario and Ottawa. He also worked in radio at the CBC and later in arts management being involved in music festivals, summer music centers and orchestras.  Now, later in life, he has returned to those early folk roots and spends summer in the Laurentian Mountains north of Montreal and winter in Florida.

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Back to the list of winners by year
or
Click here to go to the Will McLean Festival website

 

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Festival montage photo by Gail Carson
Jan Glidewell
The late Jan Glidewell

2014 marked the 25th anniversary of the Will McLean Folk Festival which ran from Friday, March 7th thru Sunday, March 9th. The 2014 festival honored Jan Glidewell, a longtime columnist for the Tampa Bay Times who died in 2013 from cancer. Glidewell was an avid supporter of the festival. The 26th year for the 3-day festival gets underway at the Sertoma Youth Ranch near Dade City on March 13th, 2015. The winner and 2nd and 3rd place finishers of this year’s song contest will be featured on Saturday, March 14th.

The Will McLean festival features four stages, including a young performers stage, a variety of music workshops, arts and crafts, food and more.  McLean, known as the “Black Hat Troubadour,”  is the first folk artist inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame. In 2014 one of the newest folk musicians inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame, Frank Thomas,  also performed at the Will McLean Music Festival. In the clip below recorded on the Cypress Stage at last year’s festival you’ll see Frank singing one of his most popular songs, “Cracker Cowman.”

Frank Thomas was accompanied by members of the band Roadside Revue featuring Dawn DeWitt on bass, Bari Litschauer on banjo, Ron Litschauer on guitar and Stan Geberer on harmonica.

Back to the list of winners by year

Cabbage Growers Race To Beat the Expected Hard Freeze

Cabbage pickers near Hastings quickly work to bring in the crop before the expected hard freeze on Monday.
Cabbage pickers quickly work to bring in the crop before the expected hard freeze on Monday.

With record-breaking temperatures expected in Florida, cabbage pickers between Hastings and Palatka were busy today trying to harvest the latest crop.

Today’s scene was very similar to 2011 when cabbage growers also faced the risk of losing their winter crop to a hard freeze. Click on my archive story below to watch the process of cutting the cabbage and packaging it up for transport across the country.

Vegetable growers in North Central Florida scramble to get their crops to market during a January, 2011 freeze.

Historic and Romantic St. Augustine

(Artistic video production)

I was inspired to make this short video, Historic and Romantic St. Augustine, because of three things:  My sister’s wedding in St. Augustine in one of the historic B & Bs, St. Augustine itself and the music and lyrics of Florida musicians and poets Clyde and Lorelei Walker and Mary Anna Evans.  Though I was only using a Nikon Coolpix camera with no tripod, I had a blast capturing the video seen here to make a wedding video gift for my sister and her husband.  Thanks to the artists who gave me permission to use their music.  See more about them below.

More about the music in my video above:

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Singer Songwriter and musician from St. Augustine, Clyde Walker

Musician and singer Clyde Walker and his wife, poet Lorelei Walker live in St. Augustine.  It’s a perfect team as Clyde often puts his musical touch to Lorelei’s poetry.  Such is the case in the song about St. Augustine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

scan0056In 2008 the couple worked on a DVD called, Romantic St. Augustine.  I found a copy to view while I stayed in one of the B & Bs in St. Augustine.  You may find one at the St. Augustine visitor center.  You can also send an email to Clyde and Lorelei at clydewkr@bellsouth.net or write to them at Clyde Walker, Ocean Sounds Media, P.O. Box 2059, St. Augustine, Fl. 32084

 

 

 

 

clydewalker Wind and Water CDThe song St. Augustine is also available at http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/ClydeWalker

 

 

 

 

Mary Anna Evans

 

 

The song Land of Flowers was written by David and Mary Anna Evans.  It was one of the top 3 songs a few years ago in the Will McLean Best New Florida Song Contest.  Mary Anna

Lyrics to Land of the Flowers 
The palm trees stand in silhouette Where Spaniards cast their bayonets. The soldiers are gone, but the trees stand yet, Towering over the land of the flowers.

The gray moss blew in fresh from Spain, Riding the crest of a wild hurricane. Our fine homes scatter but the moss remains. The moss drips forever, but never runs dry.

And the water springs clear from the sand and the stone, Quenching a wilderness no one can own. And the water springs cold from the stone and the sand. Nothing of value will rest in your hand. We pass sterile days, sharing the blame For colorless cities with old Spanish names. But God hides in places that no one can tame, Standing watch over the land of the flowers.

And the water springs clear from the sand and the stone, Quenching a wilderness no one can own. And the water springs cold from the stone and the sand. Nothing of value will rest in your hand.

The palm trees stand in silhouette Where Spaniards cast their bayonets. The soldiers are gone, but the trees stand yet, Towering over the land of the flowers.

Music and lyrics: by David and Mary Anna Evans Lead vocals and harmonies: Mary Anna Evans Guitar and harmonies: David Evans Guitar: David Reiser Fiddle: Annemieke Pronker-Coron Percussion: Bill Hutchinson

Mary Anna Evans has degrees in physics and engineering, but her heart is in the past.  Her works of fiction include: Artifacts, Relics, Effigies, Findings, Floodgates, Strangers, Plunder and, coming in November 2013, Rituals. Published by Poisoned Pen Press.

Mary Anna’s interests in music and writing collided when she was asked to contribute a story and an original song for a book/CD anthology called A Merry Band of Murderers.  She co-wrote and sang the song “Land of the Flowers” for that project.  For more information contact her at maryannaevans@yahoo.com

Don’t Dress For Dinner Opens At The Hippodrome (08/30/2013)

Aired on WUFT August 30, 2013

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Cast of Don’t Dress For Dinner at the Hippodrome State Theatre

The sequel to the popular comedy, Boeing-Boeing is now on stage at the Hippodrome State Theatre in Gainesville.  Don’t Dress For Dinner, which is the first play of the Hipp’s 41st season, has had success on Broadway and in London.  Donna Green-Townsend talked with Michelle Bellaver who plays Suzette the cook in the play.  Bellaver says she’s glad the season kicks off with a comedy.

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Don’t Dress For Dinner runs through September 22.  Longer version of the interview:

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Mem Semmes

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Mem Semmes and her son Jon

The late Mem Semmes from Dunnellon loved music. Not only did she write hundreds of songs, but she also helped provide a long time venue for Florida’s singer songwriters through the monthly concert series, The Sunday Sampler. Just a few years before she died her son Jon Semmes helped Mem produce her first CD.  Mem talked about songwriting with Donna Green-Townsend in this one hour special aired on WUFT in December of 2007 on Across The Prairie.

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Mem Semmes on These Diamonds CD Project

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The 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

 

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Early band photo of Mem Semmes

Donna, Mem Semmes and Harriett Meyer at Apalachicola Doin' Time Celebration in 2000
Donna, Mem Semmes and Harriett Meyer at Apalachicola Doin’ Time Celebration in 2000

Steve Gillette and Cindy Mangsen

Singer Songwriters Steve Gillette and Cindy Mangsen from Bennington, Vermont often tour in Florida.  While in the Gainesville area for a house concert the popular duo met up with WUFT’s Donna Green-Townsend.

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Gillette, who has had a number of his songs recorded by national recording artists, has ties to one of Florida’s legendary guitar players.  Steve and Cindy recalled how they first met the late Gamble Rogers.  Rogers, who is in the Florida Artists Hall of Fame, is nationally known for his quick wit and  guitar playing ability, all while weaving stories about a mythical Oklawaha County in Florida.  He died in 1991 trying to save a drowning man off Flagler Beach.  Gillette and Mangsen talked with Donna Green-Townsend at the home of environmental troubadour Dale Crider from Windsor, Florida about their mutual friend.

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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 1988 50th Anniv of The Yearling in Cross Creek