The Southern Way of Life

An evening of southern history, improvisational violin and original tunes!

Friday, March 3, Saturday, March 4 and Sunday, March 5 – On air and online!

Author: Acclaimed southern historian Charles Reagan Wilson (The Southern Way of Life)

Music: Improvisational violinist LaDonna Smith (Channeling the Gateway) and songwriter Daniel Splaingard (Small Trucks)

Hosts: Jim Dees and our house band, the Yalobushwhackers

Air times:

Friday, March 3 – 6 am WYXR 91.7 FM Memphis, TN.

Saturday, March 4 –3 pm (ET) University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

7pm (CT) Mississippi Public Broadcasting

9pm (CT) Alabama Public Radio

Sunday, March 5 – 3 pm (ET) WUOT | 91.9 FM, Knoxville

Listen: Thacker Mountain Radio Hour on Spotify




Charles Reagan Wilson

Charles Reagan Wilson is the author of The Southern Way of Life – Meanings of Culture & Civilization in The American South (Univ. of North Carolina Press).

How does one begin to understand the idea of a distinctive southern way of life—a concept as enduring as it is disputed?

In this examination of the American South in national and global contexts, celebrated historian Wilson assesses how diverse communities of southerners have sought to define the region’s identity.

Structured in three parts, The Southern Way of Life takes readers on a journey from the colonial era to the present, from slaveholding and agrarianism to the twenty-first-century rise of a modern, multicultural “southern living.”

As Wilson shows, there is no singular or essential South but rather a rich tapestry woven with contestations, contingencies, and change.

Charles Reagan Wilson is professor emeritus of history and southern studies at the University of Mississippi.


LaDonna Smith

LaDonna Smith has performed improvised music internationally since the 1970s as a violinist and vocalist, while also teaching music in Birmingham, Alabama. With long-time collaborator, guitarist Davey Williams, Smith has toured North America, Europe and Russia, appearing at every major improvisation festival, and many new music festivals.

In addition to her work as a musician, Smith is co-editor of The Improviser, an international journal of free improvisation. She also works as a visual artist, exhibiting her drawings and ceramics across the country.

Her albums include, Rising Tulips and Channeling the Gateway and, in collaboration with Henry Kaiser and Davey Williams, The Bird Returns to the Forest.

Small Trucks

Small Trucks is a folk-rock project from Greenwood, Mississippi led by songwriter/guitarist Daniel Splaingard. Their latest release is the LP, Moon Burn. The album was recorded in Water Valley, MS at Dial Back Sound and produced by former Thacker sound engineer, Bronson Tew. The 12-song release features Drive-By Trucker’s bassist Matt Patton and Seratones frontwoman, A.J. Haynes.