Local Man Sings the Blues
In a restaurant between Gainesville and Ocala, one man is making crowds smile with the hum of his harmonica and the strum of the strings on his guitar.
Welcome to Cross Creek, Florida. The population is quite small, but don't let the number fool you. What it lacks in size, it makes up for in soul.
Here you'll find the one and only Yearling restaurant. It's famous for its frog legs and the one and only Willie Green.
"I said I'm going to keep on trying. I said one day I'll make something out of myself. And so here I am. This guy up in here come and discover me and, I'm up there now," says Willie.
He is up there on his stool, where he has played blues music every week for seven years. All because of a man who decided to take a chance on Willie.
Robert Blauer, the Yearling owner, says "He started singing and then all of a sudden, after he got done, the whole dining room erupted in applause. I thought, right then, this is probably going to work."
But, Willie didn't always have a full-time job. The Yearling owner, Robert, actually discovered him panhandling and playing the blues at O-Malley's Alley, in downtown Ocala.
"It was a Friday night. I remember it well. He came up to me and had his hand out for a couple of bucks and I said well, Willie, tonight you're going to earn it," says Robert.
And from that moment, Willie's life changed. Willie has played with blues greats from John Hammond, to Tommy Castro, to even once opening for the legendary Eric Clapton.
"It makes you feel good. Although, it says blues, it makes you feel good," says a Yearling customer.
Which is exactly Willie's intention.
"I love the crowd. And if I can't make them happy, I ain't happy," says Willie.
At the age of 75, Willie Green has gone from living the blues to successfully singing about them.
"I didnt' think I'd make it. But I finally made it. I finally made it," says Willie.
When asked Willie if he plans to retire anytime soon, he simply replied, "As long as I'm able to use my hand, I think I should go on playing."
Willie sings the blues every Thursday through Sunday at the Yearling restaurant in Cross Creek.
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