The Thacker Mountain Radio Hour hosted its first live show since June at the Old Armory Pavillion on Sept. 9. The show included music by Mark “Muleman” Massey with former Amazing Rhythm Aces keyboardist Billy Earheart, local Afro-Blues band Afrisissppi and author Heather Cass White, promoting her new book, “Books Promiscuously Read: Reading as a Way of Life.”
Historically, Thacker Mountain has always been a local live event hosted at Off Square Books, but with the Centers for Disease Control’s recommendations going against live events last fall, the radio show was not able to hold their annual fall season. However, Executive Producer and Director Katherine York said how excited everyone was to be back.
“I think it has been such an adventure trying to figure out where and how to do things and how to make things work,” York said. “In fact, it’s such a part of our community that really getting started in person felt right.”
The event will temporarily be held at the Old Armory Pavilion, to accommodate for the CDC’s recommendations. The pavilion will have marked off designated, socially distanced squares that patrons can put their lawn chairs in. While masks are not required in the outdoor space, they are highly recommended when moving around the pavilion. York said the safety of the artists and the audience was important to the Thacker Mountain Board, so she was glad that they could bring the show back in a safe way.
“We were able to partner with the Yokatawpaha Arts Council to have the use of this pavilion for a first show, which meant we were safe,” York said. “We were live, we were in person and everything was, I think, pretty amazing.”
Cass White, the author at the premiere, was able to read excerpts from her new book, “Books Promiscuously Read: Reading as a Way of Life.” Dees also moderated a discussion on the book, in which Cass White mentioned the research she did, as well as where she drew from her own personal learning.
“The only thing I care about, the one thing I want you to leave here with today is my never, ever want you to feel guilty about reading,” White said.
Mark Massey and Affrissippi, the accompanying artists, both said how delighted they were to be back on the stage. While neither of them were prompting new music, both leads separately expressed their excitement to be back with the radio show.
“Keep an eye out for Affrissippi, they’re starting to play here and there,” Dees said.
The show was able to have a special event on the Grove Stage in June, but this show marked the return of the show’s annual fall season. Host Jim Dees said how excited the crew is to get back to performing, despite the change in venue.
“[The Old Armory Pavilion is] a larger space where people can spread out and feel safer. For our first show last week, our audience took the move in stride and showed up in force,” Dees said.
However, Dees said that the show’s 24th year will present some challenges.
“This is probably the most challenging year we’ve had. A lot of authors have curtailed their travel so it makes booking difficult. Still, we have a fun line-up coming up,” Dees said.
Dees encourages all students to come out and attend the next live show on Thursday. Sharde Thomas and the Rising Star Fife and Drum Band and singer-songwriter Michael Jay Hughes will perform, and Mary Katherine Backstrom will be promoting her book “Holy Hot Mess, Finding God in the Details of this Weird and Wonderful Life.”
“I guarantee you’ll have a good time,” Dees said.