The crowd was conversing with one another, loud music overhead, and paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling. The normally quiet bookstore had transformed into a social magnet as Thacker Mountain Radio Show rumbled into existence.
Thacker Mountain Radio is a live radio show hosted by Off Square Books every Thursday at 6pm. The show can also be heard every Saturday at 7pm on Mississippi Public Broadcast (90.3 FM).
Even twenty minutes before the show Off Square Books was crowded with audience members of various ages, some dressed up but most in casual clothes. The filled wooden chairs were walled in by hundreds of cookbooks, and sales were going on as usual.
As the host Jim Dees began to speak over the microphone the entire crowded settled in and listened. The house band began to play and within seconds the audience was memorized, no one talked or moved around, just listened.
This week’s guests included two plus year Best Bookseller Frances Mayes; Florida-born music historian George Mitchell; New Orleans band Thunder Band, led by Lightin’ Lee; and gospel band the Soul Consulators.
When asked, Ole Miss graduate Mary Jo Tate from Tupelo, MS commented that she was here for Frances Mayes’ book signing, the music was just a special bonus.
After the band played the 2014 Elvis meets Einstein Award winners were announced, then the Thunder Band played two songs. The Thunder Band uses a mixture of different musical styles in their performances. Audience members took pictures on their phones throughout the performance; some even bobbed their heads along with the music.
The end of each song was met by a roar of applause from the audience. Next, the winners of the Elvis meets Einstein presented their works, comedic pieces, one prose and the other a poem.
As the first winner, David Tran, presented his prose piece snorts and giggles were heard throughout the crowd.
The second winner, Brendan Steffan, had his work met with laughter at the amazingly long appendix of life events present in poetic form.
At the end of both reads the audience cheered the two writers. Frances Mayes presented a passage from her new book, Under the Magnolia, which was inspired during one of her weekends in Oxford. The book has been receiving mostly positive reviews, detailing Mayes’ life growing up in Fitzgerald, Georgia from birth until about eighteen years old.
The next guests up were the members of the Soul Consulators from Abbeville, MS. The group has been together since 1972 and is led by Vietnam serviceman William Young. The audience clapped along with the beat at the band played two of its songs.
The final guest to come to stage was music historian George Mitchell, detailing a few of his experiences with other groups. Mississippi Hill Country Blues is a book of his photographs that also includes experiences and interviews from his travels. Truly a great show, as most of the audience stay within its seats until the house band closed with another song. The small area of the bookstore where most were struggling to see was momentarily transformed into an arena for the guests of tonight.
After the house band finished the audience applauded and stood to leave. Show host Jim Dees commented that tonight was an example of the purpose of the show, bringing in amazing people like William Young to perform, bringing southern culture into the spotlight.
– Sherman Jones