Tag Archives: Jessie Townsend

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

 

Jessie and Lee Townsend’s Florida Folk Festival 2016 Highlights

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(from l to r) Lee Townsend, Jeanie Fitchen and Jessie Townsend (photo by Donna Green-Townsend)

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.

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(from l to r) Andy Garfield, Lee Townsend, Jessie Townsend and David McBrady (photo by Donna Green-Townsend)

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.

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(from l to r) Lee Townsend, Jessie Townsend and Mark Smith (photo by Donna Green-Townsend)

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.”

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:

 

 

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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:

 

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(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.

 

 

 

Meet singer Jessie Townsend

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Jessie and Lee Townsend

Jessie and Lee have been performing as a brother/sister musical duo for several years now singing and playing at a variety of venues including the Will McLean Music Festival and the Florida Folk Festival, special events at the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings State Historic Site and a variety of church programs and private events.

Jessie has always loved to sing.  While in high school in Gainesville she participated in several music productions with the P.K. Yonge Performing Arts Program and competed in state and regional vocal competitions.  She performed at Disney World in Orlando during two Christmas candelight performances.

 

Jessie and Lee Townsend’s new “Tribute” CD 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.

 

 

dsc_0044To see video highlights of Jessie and Lee’s stage performances at the 2016 Florida Folk Festival click here:  

 

2016-03-13_17-41-35_962To see highlights of Jessie and Lee’s stage performances at the 2016 Will McLean Music Festival click here:

 

 

 

At the 2016 Florida Folk Festival, state Heritage Award Winner Jeanie Fitchen invited Jessie, Lee and  her mom to join her on the Old Marble Stage to sing one of Jeanie’s favorite songs, “Dumbarton’s Drums.”

 

Music video of Jessie and Lee and the band performing Will McLean’s “Crying Bird”

 

Music video of Jessie and Lee and the band performing the late Jim Ballew’s song, “When I Die”

 

On April 26, 2015 Jessie and Lee Townsend performed “What Wondrous Love Is This” at the Homecoming Services of the New Cross Creek Baptist Church on April 26, 2015

 

During the Homecoming service Jessie and Lee also performed “Amazing Love”

 

On March 15th, 2015 Jessie performed Will McLean’s “Macclenny Farewell” during the Hour of Power on the Main Stage.

Jessie and her brother Lee Townsend also made great harmony on the Azalea Stage at the 2015 Will McLean Festival performing Towne Van Zandt’s, “If I Needed You” with help on the bass and harmony by David McBrady.

The trio even got in some bluegrass with “Drivin’ Nails In My Coffin.”

 

2015 was Jessie’s second year performing at the Will McLean Festival. She made her debut here on March 8th, 2014 singing a song by the late Steve Blackwell called, “The Line.”

Jessie singing I Need You at the 40th dedication services at the New Cross Creek Baptist Church on August 31st, 2014

Jessie singing King of My Heart at the 40th dedication services at the New Cross Creek Baptist Church on August 31st, 2014

Jessie singing Be Thou My Vision at the Homecoming services of the Providence United Methodist Church on October 26, 2014

Donna, Jessie and Lee Townsend singing Never Grow Old at the Homecoming services for the Providence United Methodist Church in Windsor, FL on October 26, 2014

Jessie and Lee performing “Bury Me Beneath the Willow”  along with Andy Garfield in November, 2014

Jessie and Lee performing “A Living Prayer” at the Homecoming Services for the Providence United Methodist Church in Windsor, FL on October 26, 2014

Jessie and Lee performing “Ten Thousand Reasons” at the New Cross Creek Baptist Church on October 14, 2012

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BLOG: “I Love To Sing”

dgt train tracksPerforming has been a personal passion for me since I was a young girl.  Though it wasn’t something I pursued professionally, singing and playing has been a fun part of my life and just naturally comes from being raised in a musical family.  My dad, Sterling Green, taught me my first few guitar chords when I was around the age of 10 or 11 and let me plunk around on an old electric guitar.   I always loved to sing, though I didn’t purchase my own guitar until after college.  My two older brothers Dan and Sterling both learned to play guitar as well and my younger brother Stan learned to keep rhythm on a snare drum while my mom added her part by playing a comb.

On weekends in the 60’s and 70’s we’d get together with my dad’s brother Ralph who played guitar and sang and our Uncle Forest who played the fiddle and we’d spend hours and hours making some great music together.  Those were special times.  Sadly, both my dad and his brother passed away in 1982 only five weeks apart from heart problems, but what they taught us will live on in our memories forever.

Lee Mace's Ozark OpryIn the early years, whenever my mom could, she’d sign my brothers and me up for various talent shows around our small town of Montgomery City in Missouri.  I have to laugh when I think about taking 4th place at the “Old Settlers Picnic” in nearby New Florence, MO for singing “Worms.”  I think I won a whole $2.00.  My brothers fared much better winning 2nd with their version of “Wildwood Flower.”  Later we had the opportunity to play on stage with some of the members of Lee Mace’s Ozark Opry in a talent show.  I was only in 8th grade and sang a rather adult song, “Charlie’s Shoes.”  We didn’t win, but it was a great experience for all of us.

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Though that was a long time ago, my family’s love for music has been passed down to our children.  My brothers Sterling and his son James, Dan and his son Daniel and Stan’s son Sam all play guitar.  My own son Lee plays banjo and guitar and my daughter Jessie loves to sing.  (My daughter Ellie used to play guitar and I hope will take it up again one day).

Pat & Dorsey Lee Townsend, Sr.
Pat & Dorsey Lee Townsend, Sr. in the 1940s.

My husband Lee grew up playing music as well following in the footsteps of his dad, Dorsey Lee Townsend, Sr.   It’s been said he spent four decades playing around North Central Florida with his brother Jesse and even Chubby Wise.  Music is just good for the soul.

In 1981 and 1982 while working as the News Director for KHCC-FM in Hutchinson, KS I had the opportunity to conduct interviews with all of the musicians and top contestants of the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, KS.  Our station then produced a 13-part series of music programs for national distribution on public radio two years in a row.  The experience of meeting such legends as Doc Watson, Norman Blake, Bryan Bowers, Dave Grisman, Tim O’Brien, Sam Bush and Bela Flek was all it took for me to be renewed with musical energy.  

 

 

Florida's Black Hat Troubadour
Florida’s Black Hat Troubadour

In 1983 I moved to Florida to begin work as a news producer for WUFT-FM.  Less than two years later I had the opportunity to meet Florida’s Black Hat Troubadour, Will McLean.  I had learned one of his most famous songs, “Hold Back The Waters,” while producing the “Walnut Valley Series.” When he realized I knew his song he asked me to sing it with him at his November, 1985 concert at the historic Thomas Center in Gainesville.  That concert eventually became a CD produced by WUFT.  Here is the introduction to the song that night in 1985

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and here’s the recording of Will McLean, Murphy Henry and me singing “Hold Back The Waters.”

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Just a few years later I bought a nicer guitar and began to go to music jams in the Gainesville area.  

Train Wreck front cover editedOne Christmas season when my mother and I were discussing Christmas presents she told me not to get her anything that cost a lot as she knew I was struggling to pay for three children in daycare.  I rounded up some of my favorite music buddies and asked if they’d consider getting together to produce a CD for my mom.  I had just met some of these guys, but they all said yes.  With the help of WUFT-FM ‘s (former) Program Director Bill Beckett we gathered at Bill’s home and recorded around 11 tracks for what became known as “Train Wreck.”  Bill mixed as he recorded while we were all gathered around microphones in a large circle in his living room.  The gathering included  David Cook on piano, Art Crummer on dobro, Dave McBrady on banjo, Dan Peterson on bass, Ned Stewart on guitar and Ray Valla on mandolin.  We’d practice the song once, maybe twice, and walla….we did it for real.  It was an amazing night.  Four more tracks were recorded on a separate night, including two songs written by my friend Priscilla Bingham and with the additional help of Ron Bowman on fiddle.  Here are the tracks on the CD:

Track 1- Intro and Wreck of the ‘ole 97

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Track 2- Blue Ridge Mountain Blues

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Track 3- Goodbye Little Darlin’

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Track 4- Blue Kentucky Girl

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Track 5- Don’t Come Cryin’ To Me

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Track 6- Shady Grove

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Track 7- Cryin’ My Heart Out Over You

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Track 8- Sadie

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Track 9- No One Will Ever Know

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Track 10- Rough and Rocky

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Track 11- Down South

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Track 12- Peach Pickin’ Time in Georgia

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Track 13- I Wouldn’t Change You If I Could

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Track 14-Old Fashioned Love

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Track 15- From Loving You

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My mother treasured that CD, especially when she went through four years of dementia in a nursing home.  Music helped to soothe her and it helped her to remember.  It’s so interesting how dementia patients can remember lyrics despite memory loss.

Following the recording of the first Train Wreck CD I began to do more live performances at folk festivals and church events.  See some of the videos below:

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Performing Highway of Sorrow with Art Crummer on dobro and Lynn Hall on banjo at a Sunday Sampler in Dunnellon, FL in the spring of 2000

Someday We’ll Meet Again Sweetheart:

“Where Could I Go”

Donna, Jessie and Lee Townsend singing Never Grow Old at the Homecoming services for the Providence United Methodist Church in Windsor, FL on October 26, 2014

Donna, Jessie and Lee Townsend performing I’ll Fly Away at the Homecoming services for the Providence United Methodist Church in Windsor, FL on October 26, 2014

Singing Little White Church at the Homecoming Services for the Providence United Methodist Church in Windsor, FL on October 26, 2014

Singing Where The Soul of Man Never Dies at the Homecoming Services for the Providence United Methodist Church in Windsor, FL on October 26, 2014

 

The following music tracks are some of my favorite live performance recordings:

 

ae20By The Mark performed at the Providence United Methodist Church in Windsor, FL in October 2012 with Lee Townsend on guitar and vocals and Cedric Forson on vocals

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Performing at the Will McLean Folk Festival in 2001

Conch Island performed at the Will McLean Folk Festival in 2001 with Art Crummer on guitar

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Donna performing with Train Wreck in 2000 at the Will McLean Folk Festival (photo by Bill Marder)

Hot Buttered Rum performed at the Will McLean Folk Festival in 2001 with Art Crummer on dobro, Dave Cook on guitar, Annie McPherson on mandolin and Dennis Devine on bass

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Performing in August, WV at Elkins College in 2000

I’m Goin’ Back To the Old Home performed at the Augusta Heritage Center in Elkins, WV in August, 2000

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DGT-Mississippi You’re On My Mind sung around a campfire at White Springs during the FL Folk Festival in 1999

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Lee performing with the Orange and Bluegrass Band in Waldo

Never Grow Old performed with my son Lee on banjo

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“Angel Band and Old Rugged Cross” Medley performed at the New Cross Creek Baptist Church at the April, 2013 Homecoming Sing

“I Saw The Light and I’lly Fly Away” medley performed at the New Cross Creek Baptist Church on October 14th, 2012

Mississippi You’re On My Mind

Performing “Never Grow Old” with son Lee and daughter Jessie at the Paran Baptist Church Gospel Sing on Saturday, April 5th, 2014

“Where The Soul of Man Never Dies” performed by Donna and Lee Townsend at the New Cross Creek Baptist Church at the April, 2013 Homecoming Sing