The Llano Country Opry will host a Tribute to Big Bill Lister on Saturday, January 10, at the Lantex Theater in downtown Llano. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. and admission is $15.00 per person. Tickets for the show are now on sale at the Llano Chamber of Commerce, Llano National Bank, Lively Computers in Kingsland or by calling (325) 347-5407.
The show will feature some special guests set to honor Texas Country Music pioneer Lister including Hank Williams’ daughter Jett Williams, Lister’s nephew Ron Williams, Frankie Miller and Johnny Moore among others. Lister’s son Weldon, grandson “Little” Bill Lister and daughter in law Toni will also be a part of the evening.
Big Bill Lister was born in Kennedy, Texas in 1923. His vocal career began when accompanied Jimmie Rodgers on his parents old Victrola. Lister’s dad promised him a guitar when he could sing like Jimmie. Lister never did and had to wait for the guitar until he could trade in a harmonica and two dollars for one.
Lister’s first radio show was featured on KNEL in Brady, Texas, in 1937. He would move to San Antonio and be featured on many radio stations including WOAI, KABC, KMAC and KTSA. Lister gained a big following in the 1940’s in the San Antonio area. He was asked to join the Big D Jamboree in Dallas in the early 1950’s.
In 1951, Lister moved to Nashville and started appearing on the world famous Grand Ole Opry show. He was helped by his long time friend Tex Ritter to obtain a recording contract with Capital Records.
It was at the Grand Ole Opry that Lister would meet one of his best friends. Lister was paired to be Hank Williams’ opening act and rhythm guitarist. Lister traveled all over the country with Williams and was featured on Williams’ Health and Happiness Show over WSM Radio. Williams’ even lent his talented songwriting talents to several songs recorded by Lister including “Countryfied,” “The Little House We Built Just Over The Hill,” and “There’s A Tear In My Beer,” which became a posthumous ‘duet’ hit for Williams with Hank Williams, Jr. after Lister uncovered Williams’ original demo acetate in the late 1980s.
Lister returned to the studio in 1998 to “tell his story” with the album “Big Bill Lister Remembering Hank Williams Through Story and Song.” The album featured Lister relaying stories of his long Country Music Career and performing his own classics along with some Williams’ standards.
Bear Family Records recently honored Lister with a re-release of all of his 1951-53 Capitol recordings, as well as sides he cut prior to his move to Nashville for the San Antonio-based Everstate label in 1949-50. In addition to above-mentioned songs like “There’s A Tear In My Beer,” “Countryfied,” several other classics are included like “RC Cola And Moon Pie,” “What The Heck Is Going On,” “Local Yokel” and “This Time Sweetheart.”
Jett Williams has devoted much of her life to promoting and furthering the legacy of her father, Country Music Hall of Famer Hank Williams. Jett was born just a few days after her father died. She did not even know that the balladeer was her dad until doing family research after she reached adulthood. Her attorney, Keith Adkinson waged a successful battle to prove and uphold her birth rite. During the battle, Keith and Jett fell in love and now work as a team to continue the Williams legacy.
Ron Williams is enjoying success from his latest project “Texas Style” for Heart of Texas Records. The project has received a lot of attention from XM Satellite radio and especially Willie’s Place. Williams has recently moved to San Antonio and will be featured in the production “San Antonio Live” on the River Walk.
Frankie Miller was born in Victoria, Texas. He was honored with a Grammy Award for the song “Blackland Farmer”. The song would actually be a hit on two separate occasions. He followed it with others including “Baby Rocked Her Dolly” “Family Man” “Rain Rain” and “Too Hot To Handle.”
Johnny Moore is a native of Anson, Texas. He formed a band and began playing high school auditoriums, churches and virtually any place where people wanted to hear Country Music. He wrote and recorded “Fifteen Acres of Peanut Land” which has become his signature song. He also helped to get his niece, Jeannie C. Riley established as one of Country Music’s greatest female vocalists.
“We are really looking forward to being with my Uncle Big Bill Lister,” Jett said. “When he was in Nashville, he asked me to come down to Llano and be a part of his birthday party. I told him that I would be honored to be with him. It will be a great show.”
The Llano Country Opry band will be a part of the show including Don Ricketson, Ben Watson, Sammy Geistweidt, Shane Lively and Lonnie Atkinson. Tracy Pitcox will MC the show.
For more information, log on to www.heartoftexascountry.com.