Jason Lister, an Augusta resident who never knew a stranger, died after a long battle with colon cancer. A well-known figure in the area’s arts and entertainment scene, Lister will be missed by all who knew him. Didn’t get a chance to meet him, here’s what you missed, from a story we wrote about him just last year. Rest in peace, Jason.
Those who are friends with Jason Lister don’t even know how to begin to describe him other than, “He is full of life.”
That’s what makes his recent medical diagnosis so heartbreaking for those who know and love the man they call “Lister.”
“Jason Lister is just a great guy that a lot of people in this town dearly love,” said Brian Brittingham, co-owner of Southbound Smokehouse on Central Avenue. “He has just a very infectious personality, in such a great way. People just absolutely love him. But he has recently received some bad news. He basically has an inoperable cancerous tumor on his liver. The doctors opened him up, tried to remove it, closed him back up and said, ‘We can’t really do anything.’”
Lister was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer that had spread throughout his liver and into the bottom of the lungs.
While the news was obviously devastating for his friends and family, Lister has tried to continue to remain in good spirits through it all, Brittingham said.
“To know Jason is to love Jason,” said Brittingham, who has known Lister for about 13 years. “I mean, guys love him, girls love him and he is friends with everybody. He just has a warm personality. So, when people learned that he was sick and he can’t really work, they wanted to know how they could help because, obviously, the medical expenses are pretty trying on him right now.”
As a result, Brittingham and his business partner, George Claussen IV, have organized a benefit they are calling Listerpalooza for Friday, June 24 starting at 6 p.m. at their restaurant, Southbound Smokehouse, on Central Avenue.
“Lister just has one of those good-time, fun personalities. He loves music. He loves people and we just want to put together a good time in honor of him,” Brittingham said. “We want people to come together for him, enjoy themselves and, at the same time, make some money that will help him during this time of need.”
Listerpalooza will begin with an old-fashioned crawfish boil out back, behind the restaurant, with live acoustic music by Will McCranie from 6 until 9 p.m.
“We are going to sell basically all-you-can-eat crawfish boil for $15 per person,” Brittingham said. “After 9 p.m., we are going to move it back inside the restaurant to the indoor stage and we are going to have the band, Scarlet Begonias, unplugged and then the band, Black Dawg, on stage.”
As many Augustans know, Scarlet Begonias is a local band known for paying musical tribute to the the Grateful Dead, while Black Dawg is an Augusta band that has been together for 25 years and often pays tribute to Led Zeppelin.
“It’s a perfect combination,” Brittingham said. “We also plan on doing some auction items, some raffles and different things to help raise some money for Jason. In fact, a lot of people have really stepped up and said, ‘Hey, if you are doing something for Lister, what can we do to help?’ So, it will be a fun evening and all the proceeds from the crawfish boil, the $15 per plate, will go to benefit Jason.”
Claussen said it will also be a great opportunity for people to hang out, enjoy a classic Southern crawfish boil, listen to some incredible local music and visit with Lister and all his friends.
“We want it to be an incredible night for a great cause,” Claussen said.
Brittingham said it was the least that he could do for a local friend, who he ironically met while traveling out of town more than a decade ago.
“It’s funny. I actually met Jason in Greenville, S.C. through a mutual friend back in 2003,” Brittingham said. “It was weird because, when I met him in Greenville, he really surprised me when he told me he lived in Augusta. We immediately started doing the name game of all the people from Augusta and, let me tell you, he knows a lot of people in this city. Ever since that time, we’ve become good friends and I’ve known him well for the last 13 years.”
One of Lister’s best qualities is his very giving personality, Brittingham said.
“He is a great friend and he would do anything for anybody,” he said. “And I think there are a lot of people that want to do something for him in his time of need.”
From the moment that he and Claussen decided to organize the first annual Listerpalooza, Brittingham said people have been anxious to help.
“In fact, our mutual friend who I originally met Jason through, his name is Champ Covington and he lives in Asheville now, but as soon as he heard about this, he said, ‘Can I come stay with you?’” Brittingham said. “So the guy I met him through 13 years ago is still ready to jump in a car and head this way as soon as he heard about it. So it just really tells you a lot about Jason and his friendships. I can honestly say, he doesn’t have any enemies and I have never met anybody who told me they didn’t like him.”
Even people who can’t make the June 24 event at Southbound Smokehouse have asked how they can make a donation to help pay for some of Lister’s medical expenses, Brittingham said.
“What a privilege to be able to support my cousin, Jason, during this time,” Roddy wrote. “He is a dear friend to many of you. In the last month or so, Jason was diagnosed with metastatic stage IV colon cancer that has spread throughout the liver, has seeped into the bottom of the lungs and has tentacles to the bladder. It is a rare form of cancer that has been growing for some time.”
In fact, Roddy said the doctors discovered Lister had a tumor the “size of a softball.”
“The diagnosis and prognosis is not good, but we do know that we serve a very good God,” she wrote. “Jason wants to make every attempt to pray for a miracle and to be faithful to follow where God is leading him. He began chemo on March 14 that will continue for six weeks and then he will get another scan to see where things are.”
Since receiving the diagnosis, Roddy wrote that Lister was told he should take time off of work.
“Over the days ahead, Jason has been told to stop working and take care of his health. This is hard for him as he loves to work and be active,” Roddy wrote. “He will have medical bills and living expenses that will incur during this time.”
Therefore, she asked his friends and relatives to please help support Lister during this difficult time.
“Jason is so gifted and talented and he is loved by so many. He has a gregarious personality and he is a big-spirited man,” Roddy wrote. “He feels deeply for people and he loves so many. We have many fond memories that I will cherish forever. Many of you have fond memories with Jason as well.”
Lister is also aware of the June 24 event at Southbound Smokehouse in his honor and he is blown away by everyone’s generosity, Brittingham said.
“When we told people about Listerpalooza, the response was overwhelmingly positive,” he said. “People were like, ‘What can I do?’ ‘This is awesome.’ ‘I can’t wait to see Lister.’ ‘That is such a great idea.’”
In fact, when Brittingham contacted musician Will McCranie about possibly playing at Listerpalooza, he immediately agreed to participate.
“When I called Will and told him what we were planning on doing, I told him, ‘We are looking at June 24. Are you booked?’” Brittingham said. “Will told me, ‘I will do anything to help Jason Lister. I don’t think I’m booked, but even if I was I would cancel it to do that show.’”
That is just how deeply people care about Lister, Brittingham said.
“I think that speaks a lot to the person Jason is and how much the people who really know him want to help,” Brittingham said. “It will be a very special night and it is an event that we hope to continue for many more years to come.”
A benefit for Jason Lister’s medical and living expenses
1855 Central Avenue
Friday, June 24