Host Post: Don’t Be Flat, Be Sharp!

by Jim Dees – An enigmatic piano is at the center of a brilliant new novel we’ll feature this week on The Thacker Mountain Radio Hour. (Thursday, Jan 31 at 6 pm at Off Square Books in Oxford. Admission is free).

In, The Weight of a Piano (Knopf) by Chris Cander, the titular instrument haunts its owners across generations regardless of their ability to play it. The story takes the reader from Romania to Russia to Bakersfield, California to Death Valley’s Badwater Basin, the official lowest point in North America, 282 feet below sea level. In between there is love and death, marriage and divorce, jobs lost and found – in other words, songs in the key of life.

Cander weaves all of these elements brilliantly with brisk, alternating chapters covering Russian pianist Katya and American auto mechanic Carla, both of whose lives are deeply touched by the same scuffed, well-travelled, upright Blüthner piano.

Thursday, on The Thacker Mountain Radio Hour, we’ll help bring Cander’s prose from page to stage with classical compositions from the book performed live on our show by noted Oxford composer and pianist, Cecil Price Walden. This unique melding of words and music will provide a magical experience for our audience. We just hope Off Square’s funky old Baldwin piano is up to the challenge.

Also tomorrow: We’ll be joined by two fine singer-songwriters, veteran Kevin Gordon and newcomer Schaefer Llana as well as our rockin’ house band, the Yalobushwhackers. If you can’t join us in person, tune in to WUMS 92.1 FM (in Oxford) or online:

This show will also air Saturday, Feb. 9 at 7 pm on Mississippi Public Broadcasting and the same night at 9 pm on Alabama Public Radio.

Music to read by! See you on the radio!

Join us for The Thacker Mountain Radio Hour Thursday, Jan. 31 at 6 pm at Off Square Books (129 Courthouse Square, Oxford, MS 38655). FREE admission.
Guests: Author Chris Cander (“The Weight of a Piano”) with singer-songwriters Kevin Gordon (“Tilt and Shine”) and Schaefer Llana (“49 Ceiling Tiles”). Special piano accompaniment for Chris Cander by pianist/composer Cecil Price Walden.