Host Post: Shake your bones Saturday in Tupelo

Author Paige Williams grew up in Tupelo and recently told an interviewer her interest in reading and writing was sparked in that All-American City by the “sweet smell of the Lee County Library.”
Williams will return to her hometown this Saturday, August 3 at 7:30 pm at Tupelo’s Link Centre as the literary guest on The Thacker Mountain Radio Hour. Other guests include blues guitarist Dexter Allen and soul-rock band, Matt Stansberry & The Romance.
Admission is free.

The Link Centre Concert Hall is located at 1800 West Main Street in Tupelo. A pre-show dinner will be offered from 6 -7:15 pm. Tickets for the dinner are $25 which includes a free beverage and a reserved seat for the show. For more information visit or call 662-690-4011.

“I spent a lot of my childhood in the Tupelo school library and the public library,” Williams told the Jackson Clarion Ledger last year. “It had a powerfully positive effect on me. But I equally credit the storytellers in my family–in Tupelo, Smithville, Ingomar, and the Delta–for a lifetime of filling my ear with the sound of their hilarious, absurd, heartbreaking stories.”

Williams’ love of stories put her on a path from her aromatic hometown library to the hallowed halls of Harvard and Columbia Universities to her current job as a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine, one of the most prestigious publications in the world.

It was at The New Yorker in 2013 that Williams first published a strange and twisty saga of the black-market dinosaur fossils trade. That story has now been expanded into a book, a fascinating real-life drama with more turns than a Hollywood thriller, The Dinosaur Artist – Obsession, Betrayal, and the Quest For Earth’s Ultimate Trophy (Hachette Books).

Williams will read from her acclaimed book (“Vivid storytelling…. A triumphant book.”—Publishers Weekly) Saturday night at the Link Centre where her book will also be for sale. Williams will be on hand after the show to sign copies for audience members.

The book is the real-life story of Eric Prokopi, a 38-year-old Florida man who built a successful business in the fossils trade. It would be the skeleton Prokopi brought to a Manhattan market in 2012– a valuable T. bataar (cousin to the more famous, T. rex) – that would be his downfall. Although an auction for the specimen brought more than $1 million, it was quickly discovered that the fossil had been stolen from Mongolia, and Prokopi soon found himself in a pickle of Jurassic proportions. Williams tells this intricate story across continents, cultures and millennia in what is a bravura reporting performance.

Photo of the Tyrannosaurus bataar and New York Times review of the book

Williams is currently the Laventhol/Newsday Visiting Professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.

Hey, it’s not all bones and betrayal, we’ve got two great musical acts on tap for Saturday. Dexter Allen is a Crystal Springs native who was the longtime lead guitarist for the great Bobby Rush. Since then, Allen has developed his own live show featuring his driving guitar style and consummate showmanship. Matt Stansberry & the Romance are a nine-piece band from Oklahoma City (wait, what?) who blend Memphis rock ’n roll, Detroit soul and New Orleans funk to create their own contemporary, yet classic, soul-inflected party sound. Both bands will perform after-show sets from 8:30- 9:30.

This Tupelo edition of The Thacker Mountain Radio Hour will not be broadcast live. Airs Saturday, August 10 at 7 pm on Mississippi Public Broadcasting, 9 pm, Alabama Public Radio.

The Thacker Mountain Radio Hour can be heard every Saturday night in Tupelo on WMAE 89.5 FM.

This is going to be a killer show. Come out and say hey to Paige and then stay to shake your dino tail.
See yall in Tupelo Saturday!     — J.D.

Best dinosaur song of all time:
More show info: