by Jim Dees – I’ve been watching pre-season baseball on TV just to see some green grass. We don’t really have winter in Mississippi. It’s more like the heavens wring out two months’ worth of dishwater. Glancing over the Thacker Mountain Radio schedule breaks the spell and offers hope! It is now March and our show has one of our most eclectic, diverse and entertaining line-ups ever. (See live shows schedule on this website).
Today: J.D. Wilkes, front man for the Legendary Shackshakers, and his truly out-there novel, The Vine That Ate the South, about killer kudzu that swallows the dead. J.D. also has a new album, Fire Dream (Big Legal Mess). It has the raw, back alley grit of Tom Waits bumping into a circus band on the Holly Springs square. (There’s a blurb.) Of course, Jimbo Mathus co-produced it.
Author Minrose Gwin will transport us with Promise, her heroic novel about a 1936 tornado that devastated Tupelo. We’ll also welcome Josh Okeefe, a young British folk-singer.
Last week we hosted Vitamin Cea, a talented young hip hop poet, paired with Breaking Grass, a straight-ahead bluegrass band. The week prior, we were mesmerized by Tav Falco, the edgy Memphis rock pioneer who dresses like the tango dancer he is. He sang an anti-war song, “Drone Ranger,” followed by Charlie Worsham, a radio-friendly country singer with chops to burn.
This weekend, Sat. March 3, we’ll travel to Delta State University in Cleveland, MS to celebrate our pal, the late Duff Dorrough. We’ll have guest Norbert Putnam who produced Elvis, Jimmy Buffet, among dozens of others. Duff would love nothing better than to hear Elvis stories. I know he’ll be listening.
As the month rolls on, we’ll have opera with old timey string music, blues with hip-hop and rock and roll with everything. We may even slip in a little reggae. As always, we’re anchored by our solid, swinging house band, the Yalobushwhackers.
Our buddy Robert Gordon returns next week with his fine collection of stories and essays from his 30 years writing about Memphis musicians and characters, Memphis Rent Party. Cam Kimbrough will join us to summon the blues spirit of his granddad, Junior Kimbrough. Later in the season, Sloane Crosley will be on the show with Look Alive Out There, another hilarious and erudite collection of essays. In between we’ve got new novels, a trip down the Northwest Passage, our big show outside on the Friday of Double Decker, and, later this month – the great Martin Amis!
It is the end of February as I write, dark and raining (if you can believe it). I have contemplated gnawing on my arm to keep from putting my head in the washing machine, but fret not. January and February have been vanquished like an unwanted occupying force. We are marching into spring and we have the goods.
Let us read. Let us dance. Let us reach out and put our hands on the radio!
Photo: Steve Stricker (March 2017)