The Thacker Mountain Radio Hour, Oxford’s award-winning music and literature show will open its spring season this weekend with two legends: celebrated poet Nikki Giovanni and veteran bluesman, Bobby Rush. Also featured will be Colorado singer-songwriter, Xanthe Alexis. The show is hosted by Jim Dees and Thacker house band, the Yalobushwhackers.
The broadcast can be heard this Thursday, Jan. 21, at 6 p.m. on WUMS (92.1 FM in Oxford) and online: https://myrebelradio.com/. The show can also be heard every Friday at 9 a.m. on WYXR Memphis (91.7 FM in Memphis) and online: https://wyxr.org/.
Additionally, the show is broadcast every Saturday at 3 p.m. (ET) on WUTC – Chattanooga https://www.wutc.org/; and every Saturday night at 7 p.m. on Mississippi Public Broadcasting (90.3 FM in Oxford) and online: https://www.mpbonline.org/; and at 9 p.m. on Alabama Public Radio (https://www.apr.org/).
Before COVID-19, the show was broadcast every Thursday from Off Square Books on the Oxford square with a live audience. Since the pandemic erupted last March, The Thacker Mountain Radio Hour has switched to in-studio shows at Oxford’s Taproot Audio Design, without an audience. Authors and musicians send in their performances electronically. Dees interviews authors over the phone. The show looks to continue that arrangement at least through this spring.
“We certainly miss our live audience,” Thacker producer Alice Pierotti lamented. “Many of them have become our friends over the years and we’re so ready to see everybody again as soon as it’s safe. At the same time, we feel very fortunate to be able to stay on the air thanks to the support of our listeners.”
With Giovanni and Rush, this week’s season opener boasts two very accomplished veterans in their respective genres. Giovanni self-published her first book of poetry, Black Feeling, Black Talk, in 1968. It was a breakout hit, selling 10,000 copies and established her as a major force in poetry, a distinction she carries today, some two dozen books later. Her latest collection is Make Me Rain – Poems and Prose.
Still rocking at age 86, bluesman Bobby Rush has released hundreds of records over his 50-year career culminating in a Grammy award in 2017 for his album, Porcupine Meat. He wrapped up 2020 with a cameo in the latest Eddie Murphy Netflix hit, Dolemite Is My Name. Rush’s current album, Rawer Than Raw, is an acoustic tribute to his favorite Mississippi blues artists such as Howlin’ Wolf and Elmore James. On the Thacker premiere, Rush spins tunes from the album and talks to Dees about his love of blues and his own bout with COVID.
Other highlights of Thacker’s spring 2021 season include ESPN journalist Wright Thompson (Feb. 25); bestselling author, and soon HBO producer, Brit Bennett (Jan. 28); southern essayist Kiese Laymon (Feb. 18); country singer (and sister of Jerry Lee Lewis) Linda Gail Lewis (Jan. 28); soul music legend, Don Bryant (TBA) and globe-trotting gospel group, the Como Mamas (Feb. 11).
The show is keeping its fingers crossed regarding its annual Friday night Double Decker performance as well as possible roadshows – COVID permitting – in the spring and summer.
The Thacker Mountain Radio Hour’s in-studio spring season of shows runs through April 1. Schedule updates are available at https://thackermountain.com/.