Thacker Mountain Radio is a live radio show featuring weekly author readings and a wide array of musical performances from the Square in Oxford, Mississippi. The free show is taped and broadcast every Thursday at 6:00 p.m. during the fall and spring and rebroadcast every Saturday night on Mississippi Public Radio.
Thacker Mountain Radio began in 1997 as the “Words and Music” show at Blind Jim’s, a former Oxford bar (now the Burgundy Room).
The show featured an author reading and music by a visiting band as well as songs by the house band, a format that continues today. Through the years Thacker Mountain Radio Hour has hosted a variety of literary and musical artists including: Natasha Tretheway (National Poet Laurette), Marty Stuart, Del McCoury, Elvis Costello, Caroline Kennedy, Larry Brown, National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward, Bobby Rush, Dorothy Moore, T-Model Ford, Tom Franklin, Beth Ann Fennelly, Christ Offutt, Ace Atkins, Blue Mountain, the Campbell Brothers, Charlie Musselwhite, Kenny Brown, Duwayne Burnside, Jimbo Mathus, the Bottle Rockets, Robert “Bilbo” Walker, Jojo Hermann, Paul Williams, James “Superchikan” Johnson, Tracy Schwartz and Ginny Hawker, and the Mighty Gospel Warriors.
The show now broadcasts some 27 shows a year, 12 in the spring and 12 in the fall as well as 3-4 on the road in various cities across the state.
Its Oxford home is now Off Square Books at 129 Courthouse Square, with occasional shows at the nearby Lyric Theatre.
In 2005, Thacker Mountain Radio received the Governor’s Award for Broadcast Excellence.
Executive Director/Producer: Kathryn McGaw
Kathryn McGaw started producing the Thacker Mountain Radio Hour in the spring of 2011. She was hired as full time Executive Director in January of 2014. McGaw lives in Oxford with her husband, film maker Joe York, and their very active toddler, Emma.
Host: Jim Dees
Jim Dees has been the host of the The Thacker Mountain Radio Hour since the fall of 2000. He is the author of Lies and Other Truths, a collection of his newspaper columns and the editor of They Write Among Us, an anthology of Oxford writers. His writing has appeared in numerous publications including Garden and Gun, Paste, Spin and GQ.com.
Sound Engineer: Jeffrey Reed
In a creative field that demands excellence and innovative thinking, Taproot Audio Design owner, Jeffrey Reed combines experience and intuitive talents to make him a reliable and multi-faceted audio engineer. He has established himself in the mid south and has amassed a discography that includes credits ranging from the rootsy sounds of The Creek Dippers and Blue Mountain, the Cajun stomp of C.J. Chenier, to the traditional southern gospel sound of the Mississippi Mass Choir. Reed joined Thacker Mountain Radio Hour in 2012 and brings more than 20 years of experience of live and recording production. Pictured here with engineering assistant, Devin Rossetti.
Guitarist: Jake Fussell
Jake Xerxes Fussell grew up in Columbus, Georgia, where he was exposed to traditional music while accompanying his father, folklorist and writer Fred Fussell, on numerous documentary fieldwork trips throughout the South. Jake soon teamed up with local string bands and became a guitar student of Georgia blueswoman Precious Bryant, with whom he recorded and toured. Now living in Oxford, Mississippi, Jake recently completed his master’s degree in Southern Studies at the University of Mississippi, having written his thesis on Native American and immigrant musicians in the South. He is currently serving as bandleader of The Yalobushwackers – the house band for Thacker Mountain Radio, Oxford’s weekly live-audience literary radio program. In recent years Jake has toured and recorded as sideman for several musical acts, most notably as guitarist for Memphis gospel singer Reverend John Wilkins. Jake is currently working with the Atlanta-based record label Dust-to-Digitalto curate an anthology of Mississippi blues and gospel field recordings made by noted folklorist William R. Ferris. He is presently working on his debut album.
Drummer: Wallace Lester
Wallace Lester had been a mainstay of the New Orleans music community until Hurricane Katrina forced his relocation to North Mississippi. Wallace currently lives in Holly Springs, MS with his wife, singer/songwriter, Shannon McNally, who is a frequent Thacker guest.
Multi-instrumentalist: Slade Lewis
Slade Lewis (bass) has been the backbone of many bands over the years, most recently with Oxford soul ensemble, Wiley and the Checkmates. Slade has also provided the soundtracks to documentary films.
Pianist: Mark Yacovone
Mark Yacovone, originally from Providence, Rhode Island, now makes his home in Oxford, Mississippi. Mark is probably least known for his brief television appearance in the reality series “Gene Simmons: Family Jewels”. Mark’s piano, Hammond B-3, and accordion “sideman” contributions span several decades and multiple genres and he has had the pleasure of sharing the stage and/or the studio with musical greats such as Mojo Nixon, Jody Williams (Howlin’ Wolf, Bo Diddley), Buddy Cage (New Riders of the Purple Sage), Maria Muldaur, Jeff Daniels, Kenny Brown, Bill Payne (Little Feat), and most recently, on tour with Shannon McNally.
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