Thacker will fire up its 22nd year on-the-air tonight at 6 pm at Off Square Books and my buddy Ron “Ronzo” Shapiro won’t be there. We lost Ronzo over the summer after 75 loving-life years. He supported our show but he loved all art, showing up at most any opening, reading, or concert, wearing a wild shirt, Buddha beads and his signature siren whistle, laser pointer or bell bracelet for emphasis. A carnival unto himself.
As host of Thacker and his decades-long pal, I could tell if Ronzo was in the audience without seeing him. Whenever I made a lame joke or aside (often), I could hear his solitary chuckle. I always appreciated the quiet outreach of support, a combination of pity and encouragement.
After the show, ever community-minded, he was one of those who tarried to help fold up chairs. Then he would usually head up to City Grocery and we would enjoy our post-show cocktails: gin and garlic shrimp for me, a shot of tequila for the cultural astronaut. We’d get in a good visit but I had no illusions. I knew he was there mainly to scope out chicks and blow that whistle.
The show must go on, they say, so here’s to Ronzo. I wish I could say our conversations on those pleasant evenings were weighty with lofty insights but you know better. It was just plain old, sheer fun, like him.
Thanks for all the years, my brother, and especially, for all those Thursdays.
Our fall kick off show is one Ronzo would appreciate: stories from New Orleans, tunes from his old buddy, Charlie Mars, and the gonzo Americana rock of the Folk Family Revival. Mo info here.
Please join us or tune in:
Radio: 92. 1 FM (Oxford)
Text: Jim Dees, host, Thacker Mountain Radio Hour
Photo: Mark Yacovone – Thacker house band, the Yalobushwhackers