Haunted tales of Hanging Tree Guitars; sweet acoustic tunes from central Texas and real-deal Memphis blues with Earl “The Pearl” Banks

The spiritual journey for the perfect guitar tone, plaintive Texas love songs and straight-up Memphis blues!

January 1, 2022 at 7 pm (CT) Mississippi Public Broadcasting; 9 pm (CT) Alabama Public Radio; 3 (ET) University of Tennessee at Chattanooga; Thursdays 6 pm (CT) University of Mississippi; Fridays 9 am (CT) WYXR - Community Radio Memphis

Saturday, January 1 – The Thacker Mountain Radio Hour hears haunted tales of guitar ghosts in east Carolina, love songs from Texas and real-deal Memphis blues from Beale Street!

Guests: Artist and homemade-guitar-maker Freeman Vines with photographer/author Tim Duffy and folklorist Zoe van Buren; plus Austin, TX roots songwriter Rebecca Loebe and a special appearance by veteran Memphis bluesman, Earl “The Pearl” Banks

Hosts: Jim Dees and our house band, the Yalobushwhackers

Air times:

Saturday. January 1 – 7pm (CT) Mississippi Public Broadcasting

9pm (CT) Alabama Public Radio

3 pm (ET) University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Thursdays 6 pm (CT) WUMS – University of Mississippi

Fridays 9 am (CT) WYXR  Memphis Community Radio



Freeman Vines, Tim Duffy and Zoe van Buren

Freeman Vines is an artist, musician and luthier. He is the subject of a new book of photos with narrative text by Vines, Tim Duffy and Zoe van Buren, Hanging Tree Guitars (Bitter Southerner). The book tells the story of Vines’ 50-year quest to build a guitar with a singular tone he had in his head. From his haunted east Carolina landscape, he culled through tobacco barns, mule troughs and radio parts to create a series of hand-carved guitars.

When Vines and photographer Tim Duffy acquired a mysterious stack of wood from the site of a lynching, the pair found themselves grappling with the spiritual and psychic toll of racial violence living in the very grain of America.

Hanging Tree Guitars is a haunting book that blends the eloquent voice of Freeman Vines with photographs of his guitars – some carved from a tree where a black man was lynched. The book is a grim reminder that race defines both Freeman Vines’ life and our own. Tim Duffy’s photographs bring a dreamlike quality to the book and underscore its timeless power.

– Dr. William R. Ferris (Grammy award winner & former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities)


Rebecca Loebe

Rebecca Loebe’s latest release is Give Up Your Ghosts, her fifth full-length studio album. Her 2017 album, Blink, was responsible for her securing a record deal with Houston, TX-based label, Blue Corn (home to three-time Grammy nominee Ruthie Foster). Her album, Mystery Prize, spent 2½ months on the Americana Music Association’s airplay chart and made its year-end top 100. Loebe found herself singing to 12 million viewers on NBC-TV’s The Voice.

Born in Arlington, Virginia and raised in Atlanta, Loebe now lives in Austin, TX.

Earl "The Pearl" Banks

Eighty-four-year-old Earl “The Pearl” Banks has been playing music on Beale Street in Memphis for over 50 years. During his music career he’s been honored with some distinguished awards. In 2004 he received the ‘Beale Street Entertainer of the Year’ award. In 2009 he received The W. C. Handy ‘Authentic Beale Street Musician’ Award. On Saturday, August 03, 2013, Earl was honored as the recipient of a Beale Street Brass Note. Prior to the pandemic, Earl and his band ‘People of The Blues’ – which includes veteran Memphis session musicians – played every Tuesday evening 6-10pm at Blues City Cafe on Beale Street. His CDs include his latest, Why Don’t You Do Right?