The Sweetwater Texas Theatre Acquisition & Renovation (STTAR) board of directors announces "Live on Stage at the Texas", a live music performance on the original stage of the Texas Theatre, on Saturday, March 12, with Jay Boy Adams.
Built in the early 1930’s, the Texas Theatre was originally built as a live-performance hall, complete with stage, orchestra pit, dressing rooms, proscenium arch, and a balcony. However, upon the Theatre’s completion and opening in 1935, vaudeville was on the way out and “talkies” were in. A movie screen was hung in front of the arch and stage, and the Texas became Sweetwater’s longest-in-operation movie theatre. As a struggling small-town theatre in the mid-2000s, the Texas ceased operation and the building became for sale. In 2008 a small group of Sweetwater residents quickly became interested in purchasing and restoring the Texas Theatre which led to the formation of the Sweetwater Texas Theatre Acquisition & Renovation (STTAR) not-for-profit organization with an active board of directors. This board immediately began the acquisition process and upon completion of same, rolled up their sleeves to start cleaning up the facility, raising funds, and started outside renovations with a new paint job on the façade and removing, refurbishing and reinstalling the neon Texas sign. In the spring of 2010, 3M Palace Theatres in Colorado City entered into an agreement with STTAR, and began showing movies in the upstairs old balcony portion known as the Texas II. With new heating and air-conditioning installed in fall 2010, the Texas II is currently showing first-run movies on the weekends in downtown Sweetwater. In the main auditorium, the screen has come down, the stage cleaned and made ready, and the Jay Boy Adams show on March 12 will be the first significant live music performance on the theatre’s original stage in over 70 years.
Jay Boy Adams is a native of West Texas, having grown up in Colorado City where his career as a singer, songwriter and guitarist took root. Upon graduation from Colorado High School, Adams enrolled at North Texas State University in Denton, where he shared an English class with Don Henley (of the Eagles) and traded guitar licks with fellow student Gary Nicholson, later to become a hit songwriter, in-demand session player and producer in Nashville. But school soon took a back seat to music after Adams headed into Dallas one night to hear Texas guitar legend Bugs Henderson, who remains one of his prime influences and musical heroes. Leaving college at the end of the year, he landed in Houston, where he played in a band called Hayseed, started writing songs, and first met Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top), who was then playing with the pioneering Texas psychedelic band The Moving Sidewalks. Adams also performed solo acoustic at the Sand Mountain Coffeehouse, where he got to know such Texas singer-songwriter legends as Jerry Jeff Walker, B.W. Stevenson and Willis Alan Ramsey.
In March 1972, a friend secured Adams a slot opening for ZZ Top in Lubbock, where he caught the ear of the band’s visionary manager Bill Ham. That summer, after enrolling back in college at Texas Tech, Adams got a call from Ham asking if he’d open another ZZ Top show at the sold-out Municipal Auditorium in Dallas. Ham invited Adams to open for ZZ Top again the next weekend in Atlanta, and he soon signed on as the band’s regular opening act and a guitar tech for Gibbons and bassist Dusty Hill (eventually leaving college again after studying English and music and playing in the school’s lab band). Over the next four years Adams added backing musicians to his act and by 1976 had signed with Atlantic Records.
A dyed-in-the-wool Texan, Adams was one of the hardest working acts on the American tour circuit in the late 1970s following the release of his self-titled debut album on Atlantic Records in 1977, marked by his gift for storytelling in song and its mix of blues, country, rock and folk. Spending some 200 to 250 days a year on the road, Adams shared concert bills with such acts as ZZ Top, The Allman Brothers Band, Joe Cocker, Jackson Browne, Marshall Tucker Band, Bonnie Raitt, The Kinks and many others. But by 1982, the grind of the road and pursuing his musical ambitions had taken their toll. Adams was also intent on doing his best at another important personal aspiration: being a good father and husband. So he put his guitar down, left the road and quit music. “When I walked away, I walked away,” says Adams.
Over the next 15 or so years, Adams largely stayed away from music clubs and concerts, being a family man, and running his business Roadhouse Transportation (which today boasts some 25 custom touring coaches it leases to such blue-ribbon musical acts as Bruce Springsteen, Celine Dion, Sting, George Strait, Santana, Dave Matthews and many others as well as The Dallas Cowboys and numerous private clients). He gathered his band back together once in 1986 to play the Cattle Baron’s Ball in Lubbock, sharing the bill with Reba McEntire, and also played a two-night weekend stand at the Lubbock club Fat Dawg’s with a friend’s group. But that was it.
Adams moved his family to a ranch in the Texas Hill Country and his bus business to the nearby town of Comfort. And then his wife Mary persuaded him to go one evening see one of her favorite artists, Lee Roy Parnell, play a show in San Antonio. “I never dreamed that he was going to ask me to get up and play with him,” Adams recalls. “Because if I did, I wouldn’t have gone to the show.” But once he hit the stage, the fire to create music returned.
New songs began percolating as Adams was further encouraged to get back into musical action by his longtime friend and associate J.W. Williams of Lone Wolf Productions (Ham’s management company) who then invited Jay Boy and his band to join George Strait’s national Country Music Festival tour in 1999. He also toured Europe as a special guest in The Texas Tornados. Around the same time, a young Texas music artist named Pat Green showed up at Roadhouse Transportation looking to lease a bus. Impressed by Green and the success he had forged in the Lone Star State, Adams signed on to manage him.
The two most public acts of his life are his years as a pioneering roots-rock recording and touring artist from 1977 to 1982, and then returning to music a quarter century later with his acclaimed Top 5 Americana chart album The Shoe Box in 2007. The Shoe Box featured 10 new Adams songs as well as three numbers he wrote in the 1970s and his renditions of Jesse Winchester’s “Showman’s Life” and the traditional gospel chestnut “John the Revelator.” It spent a number of weeks at #3 on the Americana Music chart, where it enjoyed a 30-week run and was ranked #7 of all 2007 releases. The Shoe Box also yielded three Top 10 singles on the Texas Music Chart, where the album charted for nearly two years. Also impressed with the album was superstar Stephen Stills. “I’ve been listening to The Shoe Box, and I love it,” he said. “Jay Boy Adams is a great musician and a storyteller in the true Texas tradition.” Stills asked Adams to open his national tour performing solo acoustic and join him on stage every night to play some songs together.
The second act of his musical career “has exceeded all my wildest expectations,” says Adams. “It is more about the music than ever for me now, and I’m doing it for the fun of it. I think I’ve been a really lucky individual to be able to do what I’ve done and now return to music,” he concludes. “Musically and creatively, I still have a lot left in me. It’s just the tip of the iceberg. And I’m really having a great time.”
Plan now to attend this exciting event, enjoy the music of Jay Boy Adams, and help us make the Texas Theatre a West Texas landmark and performance hall. Tickets are on sale now at JavaJax, 325 Oak Street, Sweetwater or by phone (credit card purchase) at 325-933-4382. Seating is available as follows - $30 for VIP seats (first six rows, reserved seating, limited number, includes after-show reception “backstage” at JavaJax), $20 and $15 general admission seating. BYOB allowed, small coolers, no glass (additional minimal cooler fee). Show benefits the Texas Theatre (STTAR) renovation efforts (501(c)3not-for-profit corporation).