Jaston Williams remains best known around these parts for 1981 play franchise Greater Tuna. The actor and playwright also counts as friends some famous musicians from Lubbock, near which he was raised. The panhandle’s outpost of strange gets its due Friday and Saturday when Williams shares the Stateside at the Paramount stage with his cabal.
Williams also gleaned knowledge about Lubbock from his days as a student at Texas Tech. That’s where the local was when we spoke. He’s been invited to spend some time with student playwrights working on projects being staged this summer.
The idea germ for Life After Lubbock, says Williams, came after Jim Ritts, executive director at the Paramount, saw him speak at Cactus Pryor’s funeral.
“He called me a week or so later and suggested I get onstage with some of my musician friends from West Texas.”
Last year, the initial show was produced with Joe Ely and Jo Carol Pierce. This weekend’s performances expand on the concept, Friday with Pierce and Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Saturday with Ely and Kimmie Rhodes.
“I’ve been talking to Joe, Jo Carol, and Jimmie for a long time,” explains the show wrangler. “So this is like when one of us is at the other’s house and we’re just sitting at the table. We’ve had some real good times and we have a lot in common.
“We know the same people and the same stories and we’ve been affected by the same madness of growing up in the Panhandle. We want to recreate that. They’ve got guitars out and we tell stories and allow the audience to ask questions.
“It’s different every time.”
The audience participation makes the whole thing unique. In 2013, someone in the audience asked Ely if the legend that he rode a motorcycle through the halls of Monterey High School on the last day of classes was true. Ely laughed.
“No it’s not true,” he replied. “I rode a motorcycle through the halls of Monterey on the first day of classes.”
“We didn’t really know each other back then,” Williams offers. “They were a little bit older and I was with the theater crowd at Texas Tech. We met up when we all got to Austin.
“But there’s a connection when you realize you knew the same crazy people in totally different contexts.”
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