Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of MKR’s Cross Creek and Cross Creek Cookery
Happy 121st Birthday Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings: August 5th, 2017 Fish Fry Birthday Celebration in Honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Publication of Cross Creek and Cross Creek Cookery
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)
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.
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.
A 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.
The 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
Listen and Watch song samples from the new “Tribute” CD below: The newest video just added is, “Lost Tourist’s Letter Home.”
(To pre-order a CD, please send $15.00 to: Jessie Townsend, 13501 SE 171st Lane Hawthorne, FL 32640)
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.
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
Lonesome Wind Blues
When I Die
Oh Kissimmee River
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.”
See the special video presentations of the tribute to Margaret Longhill below the text which were produced by Gail Carson and Paul Garfinkel
The 27th annual Will McLean Music Festival at the Sertoma Youth Ranch near Brooksville honored Margaret Longhill on March 12th. Longhill has been the gentle, guiding hand and inspiration for hundreds of musicians who have found their voices for Florida.
Since she first met Will McLean (1919-1990), the first folk artist inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame, she has continued to keep the flame burning of Will’s desire to “Save Florida Through Music.”
“Music is a magical way to teach the value of our blessed, flowered land,” says Longhill.
Whether it’s her support for the young performers or the annual ‘Best New Florida Song Contest,’ Longhill, the Will McLean Foundation President Emeritus, possesses the ability to nourish and encourage songwriters across the state simply with her incredulous smile and engaging enthusiasm. As a result, the library of songs about this “Land of Flowers” continues to grow.
“I’d like to be known as a lover of Florida and promoter of music, especially about Florida. And I was a convert because I’m from Tennessee and I love Tennessee too, but you know, when you live in Florida you just adopt Florida,” says Longhill.
The presentation on Saturday night, March 12th, included a live interview with Longhill on stage by Donna Green-Townsend interspersed with performances by three former “Best New Florida Song Contest” winners.
Ken Skeen and Leigh Skeens performed the song that won the very first contest called, “The Empty Chair.” Ken not only won first place during the very first song contest in 1992, but also won second place and tied for third. He then worked for a number of years as the song contest coordinator.
Mike Jurgensen, accompanied by Pete Price and Pete Hennings on guitar and bass performed Mike’s winning song, “Music Drifts Along This River.” Mike has won the song contest three times and is now working as a judge for the annual competition.
Margaret recited Will McLean’s poem, “My Soul Is a Hawk,” accompanied by Wayne Martin on fiddle and Dennis Devine on guitar. Amy Carol Webb, a past song contest winner, then performed a special song she wrote for Margaret’s birthday a few years ago called, “Oh Margaret.” She was accompanied by Ron Litschauer on mandolin.
The tribute also included a Will McLean song, Macclenny Farewell, performed by two young performers, Jessie and Lee Townsend, who represent Longhill’s passion for supporting the musical talent of youth at the festival. Jessie and Lee were accompanied by David McBrady on bass.
A very special thank you to all the folks behind the scenes who made the presentation possible including Ron and Bari Litschauer, Lynn Wodjenski and countless others who helped to set up the living room scene and lights and who made the presentation run smoothly.
Here are the videos of the special tribute to Margaret Longhill produced by Gail Carson and Paul Garfinkel. The first video was produced by Gail:
Paul Garfinkel’s six segments on the Tribute to Margaret Longhill from Saturday, March 12, 2016 show a wider perspective on the special evening:
Gail Carson also produced another video for Margaret to thank her for all she has done to promote and to preserve Florida Folk Music. The video demonstrates, through a number of voices, the unforgettable impact Margaret Longhill has had on so many songwriters and performers, especially young performers.
(For bookings or to contact Lee send an email to email@example.com or call 352-672-7574)
The following YouTube Videos are from some of Lee Townsend’s various bluegrass performances around North Central Florida. (Read about Lee’s musical story and see pictures of Lee below the You Tube videos)
Jessie and Lee Townsend
Lee and Jessie Townsend’s CD Sampler is ready. Click here to listen to highlights.
On Friday, April 29th, 2016 Red and Chris Henry along with David McBrady joined Jessie and Lee at Gatorbone Studios to begin recording six additional songs for their new CD called, “Tribute.” Here’s a sample of one of the recordings, “Oh Kissimmee River,” written by environmental troubadour Dale Crider from Windsor, FL. The song points out the folly of the government’s effort to straighten Florida’s Kissimmee River.
Lee and Jessie recently performed at the 27th Annual Will McLean Music Festival. Here’s one example of the songs they performed, the late Jim Ballew’s “When I Die”
Here’s Lee and Andy Garfield performing “Up 18 North” on the Azalea Stage.
To see more highlights from Jessie and Lee’s performances at the Will McLean Festival click here:
To see highlights from Jessie and Lee’s performances at the Florida Folk Festival click here:
Homecoming Service at the New Cross Creek Baptist Church
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
2015 Will McLean Festival
On March 15th, 2015 Lee and his sister Jessie performed Will McLean’s “Macclenny Farewell” during the Hour of Power on the Main Stage accompanied by David McBrady on bass.
Lee and Jessie also made great harmony on the Azalea Stage at the 2015 Will McLean Festival performing Townes 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.”
Lee playing banjo on Wild Hog by Will McLean performed by Whitey Markle and the Swamprooters at the Will McLean Festival 2015
Blue Linewalkers at the 2013 Florida Folk Festival
“Cold Sheets of Rain” with Erik Alvar on bass, Andy Garfield on acoustic guitar and vocals, Lee Townsend on banjo, Amanda Anderson on fiddle and vocals and Christian Ward on fiddle
Boy of Mine In Tennessee”
“Bury Me Beneath the Willow”
Lee Townsend and Amanda Anderson
“Down In The River To Pray” and “A Living Prayer” presented at the New Cross Creek Baptist Church, January, 2012
Orange and Bluegrass Band Performing in Waldo, 2013
“Little Boy of Mine In Tennessee”
“I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”
“Nine Pound Hammer”
Jamming at Lis and Lon Williamson’s Porch in 2013
Tumblin’ Creek Bluegrass Band On The Main Stage At Florida Folk Festival, 2013
Performing “Landslide” at the P.K. Yonge High School Graduation in 2011
“Foggy Mountain Breakdown”– Jamming at the Hippodrome
Lee Townsend loves to play music, especially bluegrass. Even at the young age of 3 he wanted to play the guitar.
His love for music isn’t a total surprise. His grandpa Dorsey Lee Townsend was a great guitar player who played with his brother Jesse Townsend around the Cross Creek area in the 1930s through the 1970s. His other grandpa, Sterling Green from Missouri, also played the guitar and had a family band.
Lee learned his first music chords from his mom (Donna Green-Townsend) and dad (Dorsey Lee Townsend, Jr.)
David Cook gave Lee his first professional guitar lessons.
His parents along with musician and singer songwriter Jon Semmes from Dunnellon helped purchase his first “real” guitar. It wasn’t long before he decided he also wanted to try out playing the banjo. His Aunt Linda and Uncle Jim Johnson provided his first one.
At P.K. Yonge High School Lee had the opportunity to take Mr. Randy Hollinger’s instrumental ensemble class. The class included not only a bluegrass band, but a rock band, blues band and a girl’s punk rock band.
The bands put on a big show every May on the school’s performing arts center stage. But the bluegrass band had a life of its own and soon the Tumblin’ Creek Bluegrass Band began performing at a variety of venues, including the Will McLean Folk Festival, the Florida Folk Festival, United Downtown in Gainesville, the Micanopy Fall Festival, and the Alachua Downtown Festival among others.
Not surprisingly, when Lee went on to college he joined a bluegrass club and a band soon formed called Orange and Bluegrass.
As with many acoustic bands, there’s always a mix and match of performers at various festivals. On Memorial Weekend of 2013 one of those mix and match groups became the Blue Linewalkers who performed on the Main Stage of the Florida Folk Festival. Performers included Erik Alvar on bass, Andy Garfield on vocals and guitar, Lee Townsend on banjo, Amanda Anderson on Fiddle and vocals and Christian Ward on fiddle.
The Sno Rogers Band has gone through a few changes. At the time this feature was produced the members were David McBrady on Banjo, Terry Miller on guitar and Barbara Johnson on bass. The band was known for its high energy!
During the 2015 Will McLean Music Festival at the Sertoma Youth Ranch near Dade City two of the former members of the Sno Rogers Band, David McBrady (bass) and Terry Miller (guitar) jammed together along with Lee Townsend on banjo and Jordan Cherkinsky on mandolin for old times sake. It was one of those memorable festival campground moments.