by Jim Dees – This week The Thacker Mountain Radio Hour will pull off a hat trick of three shows in one week. Last Thursday, at Off Square Books, we hosted Nathan Hill, one of the hottest novelists in the country. His debut novel “The Nix,” is an audacious 620-page deep-dive into family, politics, culture and Norwegian hoo doo. After the show, he joined the Thacker team for refreshments and we found him to be as engaging and bright as his book.
On Sunday we played on the grounds of Rowan Oak, home of William Faulkner on what happened to be the great author’s 119th birthday. The weather and crowd were exemplary as the audience set up lawn chairs around our stage in front of the stable, under festive strings of Edison lights. The effect was magical. The grounds, a former pasture where Faulkner kept his horses, was the perfect setting. Noodles by Canoodle were available as well as birthday cake for the late honoree. In a nice touch, there was complimentary Snopes beer from Yalobusha.
Maggie Koerner, former lead singer with New Orleans funk band, Galactic, mesmerized the show with her open tuning lap guitar playing and strong, otherworldly voice. Given that we were outdoors and the tree frogs were giving her a run for vocal space, she filled Bailey’s Woods with her haunting, even spooky, sound.
Memphis “Swamp Sista” Marcella Simien played the squeeze box of her south Louisiana Creole upbringing, giving the night a Cajun spice. Her trio included Memphis session man extraordinaire, Jim Spake on sax, to lend her songs a jazzy swing. The evening was part of Sarafest, a week of events sponsored by the Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies.
And finally, this Thursday, Sept 29, we’ll be back at Off Square Books with bestselling Civil War novelist, Robert Hicks. His first book, The Widow of the South, landed on the bestseller lists of The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post and launched his very successful career. His newest, The Orphan’s Mother, is highly anticipated.
Our musical guests this week bear special mention, Michaela Anne and Ethan Crump. Both are young Americana songwriters and performers who honor real country music while staying true to their own generation. Impressive songwriters and winning performers. Following their Thacker appearance, both will play full sets at the Shelter on Van Buren (across from Off Square in the basement of Neilson’s).
Quite a week for our little radio show. We’ve prided ourselves on being representative of the Oxford community and this week we’ve walked the walk. Three shows in a week with quality guests and great crowds, all free and open to the public and broadcast on free public airwaves.
This, after our summer tour that saw us bring words and music to Clinton, Tupelo, the Neshoba County Fair, Jackson and Ocean Springs. We’re rolling, baby, and we’d love to have you join us.
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Photo: Timothy Steenwyk