Washboard Willy quit architect job to pursue musical dreams - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Washboard Willy quit architect job to pursue musical dreams

Washboard Willy (Source: Ashlyn Tubbs) Washboard Willy (Source: Ashlyn Tubbs)
Source: Ashlyn Tubbs Source: Ashlyn Tubbs
Kazoo attached (Source: Ashlyn Tubbs) Kazoo attached (Source: Ashlyn Tubbs)
Source: Ashlyn Tubbs Source: Ashlyn Tubbs
Crowd participants (Source: Ashlyn Tubbs) Crowd participants (Source: Ashlyn Tubbs)

He is known at the Panhandle South Plains Fair as the one-man-band named Washboard Willy, who makes frequent musical rounds.

He has practiced with his washboard contraption and thimble gloves he invented for more than 30 years.

 But what little passerbys know is that his legal name is Larry Hiskett, and he was once a landscape architect in Colorado.

"I was a park planning physician, which I loved, in two different cities," he said.

Two years into his job, Hiskett was driving a motorcycle with a passenger and crashed.

"We spun out, rolled out over into the river," he said.

Hiskett's friend was left paralyzed.

"There were times I went through a lot of depression," he said, ‘and ‘Why me? Why me, Lord?"

During this hard time, Hiskett had to choose between his profession or passion.

"I think I need to give me 100 percent," he said, at the time, "and the best I could give [my job] is a 90-day notice."

Hiskett played in bands until one day, a Japanese theme park invited him to play solo at their event.

"What?" he asked. "I'm a co-dependent drummer…I'm a co-dependent washboard player

After brainstorming, Washboard Willy was formed in 1984: a character he created just for children.

"I added the different instruments to my washboard," he said, "the next thing I know I'm doing conga lines with all the kids."

Since then, Hiskett has brought his gear to fairs and festivals in nearly state, along with his wife.

"She's my manager," he said. "We're constantly having to work hard to sell ourselves to the fair."

While Washboard Willy helps promote the fair food as he sings, he mostly encourages people of all ages to dance to the rhythm of their own beat.

"With all your heart, do what you love and everything else will fall into place," he said, "because that's the most important part."

To watch Washboard Willy in action, you can catch him at these times: Monday through Friday from 3:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m., or 7:30 p.m., and Saturday & Sunday from 1 p.m., 3 p.m., 5 p.m. or 7 p.m.

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