Since it was established in 1997, Thacker Mountain Radio has provided a weekly dose of live music and literature to the Oxford community. For the uninitiated, Thacker Mountain Radio Show is a weekly show that features a wide variety of music talent and author readings live from Oxford, featuring mainstays such as host Jim Dees and house band the Yalobushwhackers, which is made up of musicians John Paul Keith, Wallace Lester, Slade Lewis and Marc Yacovone.
Off Square Books, and occasionally the Lyric or a tour location around the state, is home to a packed house for TMR’s weekly performance.
Current executive director Kathryn York has been producing the show since 2011 and said the event is for anyone who wants to join in.
“This is an event for our community,” York said. “People, regulars and first-timers, from various backgrounds and age groups, start walking in the door, and after the show they leave as a community. It’s magic.”
“I’ve been the host since 2000 and have watched the show go from being heard in a three-county radius to being heard worldwide via the Internet,” Dees said.
Thacker Mountain was picked up by Mississippi Public Broadcasting in 2001, and the show is now played live on the radio at 7 p.m. every Saturday. During its history, Thacker Mountain has had many memorable moments.
Dees’ list of memorable guests include Elvis Costello, the Drive-By Truckers, Caroline Kennedy (daughter of late President John F. Kennedy), and Jim Harrison. The show once even featured Paul Williams singing “The Rainbow Connection.”
Dees said his other favorite moments were having his friends Duff Dorrough and Jim Dickinson playing on the show, the Barry Hannah Tribute with John Grisham at Paris-Yates Chapel in 2010, and performing the show at the Tallahatchie Courthouse, site of the Emmett Till trial, with R&B singer Dorothy Moore.
This year, the Thacker Mountain Radio Show will conclude another full season with a special performance at the Double Decker Arts Festival, its third year producing a full three-hour block of programming on Friday.
“This show on Friday night is our tip of the hat to our community,” York said. “Obviously anyone and everyone is welcome, but this is our way of thanking the community that is about to open its doors to thousands of visitors the next day.”
“At Thacker, we’re very excited and proud to be a part of Double Decker,” Dees said. “We’ve been on the air for 18 years and yet much of the local community is not aware of our show. Along with national and international authors and musicians, we pride ourselves on showcasing the best in local talent. We feel like we have a lot to offer the community of Oxford that has given us so much.”
This show is highly anticipated for a multitude of reasons, featuring a stellar lineup including music from both Cory Branan and The Nightowls and a live reading from Kiese Laymon, this year’s Grisham writer-in-residence at the University of Mississippi. The Yalobushwhackers will also perform and with Dees as the host.
At 6 p.m., Cory Branan will start the evening with an hour-long set. Branan is a dynamic singer-songwriter born in Southaven, who has produced four albums, including two of his most recent, “Mutt” and “The No-Hit Wonder.”
The Thacker Mountain Radio Hour, in its usual format, will kick off at 7 p.m. During this hour, Kiese Laymon will be reading. Laymon, a notable black Southern writer who was born and raised in Jackson, earned his M.F.A. from Indiana University and is now an Associate Professor at Vassar College.
He is the author of the novel “Long Division” and the essay collection “How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America,” in addition to a multitude of pieces published by prominent newspapers and magazines.
The last hour, starting at 8 p.m., will be filled with a set from The Nightowls, a band founded in Austin, Texas. The group released their critically-acclaimed debut album “Good as Gold” in 2014 and their album “Fame Sessions” in mid-2015, with an upcoming release of an album entitled “Royal Sessions” in July of this year.
This special Double Decker performance of Thacker Mountain Radio will take place outside on North Lamar, right off the Square. Don’t forget your lawn chair!