Today’s guest is Washboard Willy, also known as Larry Hiskett. He is the person who changed the direction of my life and taught me some valuable lessons. Back in the mid-90’s, when I was learning to be a performer and run my business, I would run into him everywhere I went. He was a “Musical Mountain Man” and a wonderful entertainer. Join us!
Washboard Willy shares the following about his amazing
life and work:
- Larry began working as a drummer in bars and clubs all over
Kansas at age 15.
- In 1985, he worked as a landscape architect and a park planner
- He played in a band that specialized in German polka
- He had a motorcycle crash that paralyzed his girlfriend and
sent him into therapy.
- He gave a 90-day notice and quit his job, and then discovered
- He became obsessed with the instrument and modified it with all
kinds of percussion instruments.
- Larry developed the Whiskett Rhythm Board, created his own musical tracks and formed a band.
- Soon, he was invited to visit Japan in a Sister City program.
- A couple of years later, he was invited to go back to Japan for a 6-month visit and did a one-man show at a restaurant.
- The biggest challenge was figuring out how to connect with the children when he couldn’t speak their language.
- Find out how a few rhythm toys helped him bridge the gap and connect with children and their parents.
- When he returned to the US, he knew he wanted to give up his work in bars and clubs to become a children’s entertainer.
- He performed in preschools, schools, and ski schools around Colorado while still working as a landscape architect to supplement his income.
- Washboard Willy has been a musician for 50 years! He feels blessed and full of gratitude at what he gets to do.
- 80-90% of his revenue comes from the fair industry, even though younger entertainers have a negative view of the industry.
- Willy’s wife of 13 years has performed with him in the past but now serves as his manager.
- He has teamed up with Lloyd Mabry to create “Lloyd and Willy,” which plays all kinds of music and musical comedy.
- Willy’s advice: “Stick to it. Don’t ever give up. Always look for opportunities.”
- Willy shares the story of moving his wagon around the Oregon State Fair and how he adapted and evolved his creative, fun, atmosphere at the fairgrounds.
- “Whatever you do, make it YOU. Don’t copy someone else.”
- Find Willy at http://www.washboardwilly.com or on Facebook at Willy’s Washboard Jamboree and at Lloyd and Willy.