The Real Deal
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The Real Deal

It's in the most unusual places you can find the best treasures.

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The Real Deal
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In Alachua County, Florida, just north of my hometown lies the small community of Cross Creek. Cross Creek was once home to author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings who wrote her most famous novels, “Cross Creek” and Pulitzer Prize winning “The Yearling,” during her years there.

Cross Creek, although not very big, has several attractions, Orange Lake and Lochloosa Lake. But the real attraction is The Yearling restaurant. From the outside, The Yearling doesn't look like much. But as soon as you step through that porch it's like a different era. Surrounded by antiques, guests have a menu full of options: from chicken to frog legs, gator tail or venison. If you're lucky, then on the weekend you may be able to catch the very talented live musicians, best of all Mr. Willie Green.

Willie Green is a regular at the Yearling playing usually on Saturdays when he feels up to it. He is sweet, funny and can play the blues better than anyone I've ever heard. (Not that I've heard that many, but my parents have the same opinion, so it can't be too wrong.) He can pick a guitar, play harmonica and sing all at once. And if you aren't looking at them, then you'd think it was a whole band.


According to his CD booklet, he was born in 1935 in Montgomery, Alabama. He was the son of a sharecropper. Nights were spent sneaking out hopping a freight train or hitchhiking to hear the blues at the juke joints. According to an article in oldcitylife.com, he was given a harmonica and learned to play that in his free time. Eventually, the harmonica lead to Willie learning to play the guitar. Willie practiced when he wasn’t working and played for tips at small restaurants. Willie’s friendly personality led to him making a friend who kickstarted his career. Willie went on to play in front of larger crowds in clubs. He was coined “The Real Deal” by John Hammond, famous blue singer and guitarist, when he played in Café Eleven. Willie’s fame grew. He was invited to play at many went on to open for many talents including Robert Cray and Eric Clapton. He traveled to many different festivals and gigs, including playing in Saint Augustine.

But even with all his success and talent, Mr. Willie Green is a kindhearted and humble man. He plays the blues because he loves it. He’s had hard times in life. Sometimes the Blues is all he’s had. I believe that's what makes them so great. In between songs, he stops to a tell story or two about when he was a kid or some interesting stories about how he got into some interesting situations. If you ever get the opportunity to visit The Yearling or to see Willie Green play, then do it. You won't regret it. Don't be afraid to talk to him or plot either. He lights up when he knows people are listening. That's when you can really see the real Willie Green.

Willie Green is truly a treasure. His music connects us to a time that not many of us were able to see. He isn't just playing music. He creates art that grabs your soul and lets you experience just a piece of Willie's life. You can feel the troubles and love, and the ups and downs of life without ever leaving your seat. I wasn't a true fan of real blues until I hear Willie play.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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