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As the sun sets on
a Thursday night
“ [Thacker is] deliberately eclectic, and,
sometimes ... downright disorderly.”
in Oxford, a string —Scott Barretta, host of ‘Highway 61’
of twinkling lights
turns on inside Off LEFT:
The Yalobushwackers, Thacker Mountain Radio’s
house band, are a popular constant on the show.
er Mountain Radio” oversees the pro-
duction, operation and music booking,
Square Books’ connections with pub-

Square Books. BELOW:
Legendary producer Jim Dickinson brings his
lishing houses in New York City and in
Oxford have put Pulitzer Prize winners
such as Edward P. Jones and local hero

Mamacita, the tor- own style of piano and vocals to the radio show. and English department writer-in-resi-
dence Barry Hannah on the stage.
Continuing a tradition that argu-

toiseshell house cat, ably began with William Faulkner,
other writers—including John Grisham
( JD 81), Willie Morris, Barry Han-

roosts on a nearby nah, Tom Franklin, Beth Ann Fennelly,
Ann Fisher-Wirth and, most recently,
UM John Grisham Writer-in-Residence

countertop while staff and
a few volunteers
transform the bookstore into a venue for
with the Yalobushwackers, the show’s
house band. People don’t know it, but
they haven’t rehearsed. They never do.
but they thought it was funny,” recalls
Lyn Roberts (JD 89), a former Thacker
producer who now books the authors.
Jack Pendarvis—are the latest genera-
tion in a literary lineage that’s created
an author per capita in Oxford higher
the “Thacker Mountain Radio” show. “Rehearsal is for sissies,” says the As for music, which constitutes the than in Brooklyn. Hannah and Pen-
A low stage in the front faces a blond show’s host Jim Dees, a phrase the band largest part of the show, the audience darvis make regular appearances on the
sea of folding chairs, and flanking all of has adopted as its motto. has seen it all. From Elvis Costello and show and, in the case of Pendarvis, not
this, besides the two hulking speakers, It’s something they can joke about T. Model Ford to local bar bands, the just to read but also to play the accor-
are books. Conceived in 1997 by the because, in truth, it’s not something collaboration of “Thacker Mountain dion. On the Thacker stage, writers are
owner of the local bookstore and two they need to do. Seasoned musicians, Radio” with Oxford music venues in also performers.
University of Mississippi Southern stud- the Yalobushwackers include Duff town and nearby recording companies “What I appreciate about Thacker
ies graduate students, “Thacker Moun- Dorrough of the Tangents fame, bass- can account for more than 250 musi- is how it runs against the trend of cul-
tain Radio” remains a no-frills affair ist Slade Lewis (BA 97) formerly of cal acts performing on its stage. New tural consumption’s becoming increas-
that mixes musical performance with Wiley and the Checkmates, and drum- and unusual music also has its place. ingly fragmented,” says Scott Barretta,
author readings. mer Wallace Lester, a New Orleans Few people had seen a washboard used host of “Highway 61.” “It’s deliberate-
People arrive an hour before the transplant. as an instrument, let alone an electric ly eclectic, and, sometimes, particularly
event and put down magazines to save By the time Dees steps to the mike, version, until Cody Dickinson of the via Jim Dickinson and Jim Dees, down-
seats for friends. Others come from as the show is in full swing. For the next North Mississippi Allstars stepped on right disorderly.”
far away as the Gulf Coast, Canada and hour, nothing exists outside “Thack- stage with one around his neck. Tempered by the people who put it
California and, on one night, even Paris. er Mountain Radio.” The show distills “‘Thacker Mountain Radio’ is the together, things never get out of hand
By 5:30 p.m. the bookstore is dark and the South’s rich, cultural landscape into best place to debut a band in Mississip- though. In fact, to the audience, the
buzzes with anticipation. Everyone is music and words. Every week there are pi,” he recently said before his perfor- show is seamless. People can’t believe it,
ready for the show’s host to begin the different guests, including other musi- mance to a standing-room-only crowd. but it hasn’t always been this way. Ten
countdown with 5…4…3…2…1... cians and authors. There is also the Authors feel the same way about years after its first broadcast, the show
Jim Dickinson hammers out the first occasional “third element,” which Dees appearing on the Thacker stage. Wheth- continues to evolve from its humble
chords of the theme song on a piano, lay- describes as a short segment that high- er reading a selected passage or engag- roots.
ering gruff vocals with a lilting, blue- lights Mississippi culture. A few years ing the audience with a personal story, The earliest incarnation of “Thacker
sy tune. A legendary producer who has ago, one of those featured a man who they profess that they have been a part Mountain Radio” was the “Words and
worked with Bob Dylan and Aretha demonstrated turkey calling. Another of something completely original. Music Community Radio Hour,” a vari-
Franklin, Dickinson is a virtuoso in his was a dramatic performance by Oxford Since the show began, Square Books ety show put together by Oxford locals
own right. By the end of the hour, he High School’s Latin Club—in Latin. has been responsible for bringing the Ed Dye and Peyton Cooper. Broadcast
will have played at least three more songs “Nobody knew what was going on, authors to the show. While “Thack- by the university’s radio station from

36 A LUMNI R EVIEW SUMMER 2008 37
Blind Jim’s, a local watering hole on what goes in to putting together some- The extent of the university’s involve-
the Square (now home to the Burgundy thing like “Thacker Mountain Radio.” ment in the show goes beyond camara-
Room), the show featured music by the Among them have been the show’s four derie and fanciful interest, however. Last
Sincere Ramblers, which included Uni- producers, four house bands and three season, the live broadcast of “Thack-
versity of Mississippi Southern studies hosts. Herring, who with Ledford and er Mountain Radio” was the responsi-
graduate students Caroline Herring (BA Howorth produced the show’s first sea- bility of the student-run radio station  PRISTINE NATURAL WONDERLAND 
703 ACRES OF PRIVACY NEAR OXFORD 
92, MA 98) and Bryan Ledford, and sons, left Oxford after she graduat- Rebel Radio 92.1 FM, which exposed  
other local musical guests. ed to pursue a music career. Her recent the show to a new generation of listen- Spectacular natural beauty plus supreme amenities equals 
While the show grew in popularity, appearance on the show to debut her ers. Through the Center for the Study an unparalleled opportunity to own your personal 
a noisy bar was hardly the ideal venue. latest album, “Lantana,” was a kind of paradise.  This 703 acre estate offers privacy and security 
of Southern Culture, countless students,
in a luxurious setting.  Located less than 9 miles from the 
Herring, seeing the potential for the homecoming. both graduate and undergraduate, have Oxford Square, this magnificent retreat is entered through 
show at Off Square Books, the annex Co-founder Ledford returned for donated their time and energy to the an electronically controlled gate at the end of a paved 
store for Square Books, approached the show’s 10th anniversary in October production of the show. Students’ duties country road south of State Highway 30.  The residence is 
owner Richard Howorth (BA 72), about 2007. He now lives in Jackson, where he located ½ mile from the gate. 
have included designing posters, rais-
 
moving the radio show’s location. is at work on a new album. ing money and helping with the show’s The custom designed single story residence of 5500 square 
“Richard said OK if we could split In conjunction with its 10th anni- setup and the breakdown. feet under roof (4105 sf heated and cooled) includes 4 
the show time with writers,” Herring versar y show, “Thacker Mountain Students also appear as guests. Last bedrooms, 3½ baths, a large living room, dining room, 
said in an e-mail, “and that was it. We Radio” incorporated as a Mississippi year, Clarissa Romano, a graduate stu- library, kitchen/keeping room/breakfast room, office, 
laundry room and garage.  There are no other homes 
hoped someone would come.” nonprofit. During the show, Howorth dent in creative writing, sang a set of sul- visible from the residence which is located on a high point 
Before the f irst show, ever yone proclaimed that “‘Thacker Mountain try standards, and Dent May (BA 07) with beautiful sweeping views in the front and rear.  The 
decided on t he show’s ne w played the ukulele with a post- Holly Springs National Forest borders the property in the 
name. According to Howorth, modern aesthetic. When author distance to the south and east.  Also on the property is a 
custom 4 stall horse barn with a sitting room, kitchen and 
who came up with it, Thacker John Berendt was scheduled to
Mountain is the highest point in “Thacker Mountain Radio” is broadcast read from The City of Falling
bathroom plus a separate equipment barn.   
 
Lafayette County and had a fire Angels, a nonfiction book set in Rural type recreational activities abound.  A 17 acre spring 
tower where kids who grew up live from Off Square Books on Thursdays Venice, he was paired with the fed lake, with constant flowing water, offers great bass and 
bream fishing.  One can hike or ride horses over more than 
in the area would go to get away
from the watchful gaze of their
during the spring and fall semesters at Ole Miss Opera Theatre.
Whatever it means to people
20 miles of trails, the experience being enhanced by several 
spring fed creeks, open fields, rolling hills and mature 
parents.
Inspired by old-time radio
5:30 p.m. It can be heard live on Rebel and represents in the communi-
ty, the most compelling descrip-
forests.  Wildlife is abundant, particularly deer and turkey.  
The property has been maintained at an exceptional level 
show s suc h a s t he “L ou i si- Radio 92.1 FM and at 7 p.m. Saturdays tion of the show is summed up
of natural beauty.   
 
For further information or a private showing please contact: 
PAM POWERS 
ana Hayride” and the “Grand by Charles Reagan Wilson, Kelly Available for purchase at $4,350,000. 
Ole Opry,” Ledford penned a on Mississippi Public Radio. Learn more Gene Cook Chair in History and  
601­831­4505 cell 
601­638­4505 office 
theme song to evoke the sense of former director of the Center for 1­888­447­8791 toll free 
place that Howorth envisioned. about “Thacker Mountain Radio” at Study of Southern Culture. PamPowers@LiveInTheSouth.com 
3205 N. Frontage Road, Vicksburg, MS 39180 
“Thacker Mountain Radio” was
set in motion with a bluegrass
www.thackermountain.com. “It’s like church,” Wilson says,
“Jim Dees is the preacher, and
tune. Although there were only the audience is the congregation.
12 people in the audience for the Many of them sit in the same seat
show’s debut, the Sincere Ramblers wel- Radio’ belongs to the community.” every week to listen to the sermons of
comed every one of them to their “fire With its proximity to the UM cam- the authors and music.”
tower radio hour” that broadcast “6,000 pus, that means it doesn’t just belong By the end of the show, everyone is
watts of power.” to Oxford. The university adds it own uplifted. It’s not unusual for the Yalo-
The first show featured author John color, and the show can count among bushwackers to close out the show with
ss Case...
From our Expre y casseroles,
Bentley Mays and musician Tony Furta- its fans UM Chancellor Robert Khayat a song like “Sunshine, You Are My Sun-
do, who played a short set on his banjo, (BAEd 61, JD 66). His fondness for shine,” during which the audience will our man lection of
Enjoy one of - a wide se
then appeared at a local music venue for “Thacker Mountain Radio” has found join in to sing along. Then, after Dees s, breakfast so
uffles
Everyday order”
hot appetizer me, s, “made to
fresh salad
Whether you’re new to “Ole Miss” tradition or ke ho
a late-night gig. The format was dynam- him making appearances on the show, thanks everyone—including the audi- and entrees -
ready to ta
s, Hot &
returning to familiar surroundings... bake and serv
e. hilly Steak
ic. When not introducing guests, former and not necessarily just to speak. Dur- ence—the young and old file out and Hoagies, P hes and a variety
wic
host Tom Arriola (MFA 94) performed a ing one broadcast, Khayat walked on into the night. Chairs get put up, checks Legends of “tailgating in the Grove” are repeated Cold Sand pastries from our
radio drama or read off the weekly spe- the stage to play guitar with his friend in football circles across the country... Additional Services of irre si st ib le
se.
are dispersed, and the place reclaims its
We provide a complete line of -d a il y ” bakery ca
cials from a nearby restaurant that spon- Marty Stuart, a Nashville-based musi- identity as a bookstore—until the next “fresh
It’s historical... it’s traditional... it’s Ole Miss! services including:
sored the show. The Sincere Ramblers cian and “Thacker” fan. Although the Thursday. AR Tables, Linens, Folding Chairs,
played original music and covers, but show has been performed on the univer- We offer full-service tailgating... Canopy Tents, Coolers, Ice, Bottled
all you need is a ticket. We reserve the right to change menu items
also jingles to advertise local sponsors. sity’s campus a handful of times, Khayat Mary Warner is the producer of “Thack- Water, Flatware, Plates and Napkins. and services as necessary
The arrangement seemed to work, has invited “Thacker Mountain Radio” er Mountain Radio.” She is currently a

711 North L amar, Oxford - www.oxfordcatering.com - 662-236-0001 - (fax) 662-236-3866
and, in 10 years, the audience grew to be broadcast twice a year from the Southern studies graduate student and
from 12 to 200. During the show’s first Ford Center as a fundraiser beginning freelance writer.
decade, a handful of people have learned with the 2008-09 season.

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