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Thacker Mountain Radio


Jenny Hogan, with keyboard/accordion player Jenny Conlee

Ricky Burkhead, drummer with The Yalobushwhackers

Drummer Ricky Burkhead and bassist Slade Lewis with The Yalobushwhackers

Jazz pianist Bill Perry, Jr.
Article & photos by Tommy Brannon

When delivering the November issue of the Mid-South Horse Review to several outlets in Oxford, Miss., I decided to take some time to enjoy the amenities of this famed “gown town” and equestrian center. I had heard Thacker Mountain Radio on the radio, but decided this time to attend a live performance. Thacker Mountain Radio Hour is a live radio show broadcast on Thursday evenings (rebroadcast on Saturday evening) from Oxford, Mississippi, which features author readings and a wide array of musical performances.

Why Thacker Mountain? There actually is a Thacker Mountain near Oxford; with its main summit at 623 feet, it is the high point of Lafayette County and part of the region referred to as the Mississippi Hill Country. Some folks who live near “real” mountains, like the Smoky Mountains with elevations up to 6,643 feet, might scoff at the use of the term “mountain” to describe it, but the Mississippi Hill Country has a high elevation in the traditions of world class literature, music, and art, as well as a little humor. The music and culture of this region are the inspirations for the weekly radio program, named after the “mountain,” which offers a dose of each. Oxford, being a “Gown Town,” adds a level of eclectic sophistication.    
The show on a chilly and wet Thursday October 28, 2021, hosted by Jim Dees, was broadcast live from the Old Armory Pavilion, and was part of a month-long series of lectures, films, and concerts presented by friends at the Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies at the University of Mississippi, titled Sarahfest! In previous years the show was broadcast from inside Off the Square Books, which is a sponsor and is actually on the square in Oxford; but COVID-19 has required a more open air venue, thus the move to the Old Armory Pavilion about a mile away, which has a lot more audience space. Just bring a lawn chair.

Musical guests this week were vocalist Kelly Hogan, keyboard/accordion player from The Decemberists Jenny Conlee, and jazz pianist Bill Perry, Jr. The talented musicians in the house band, the Yalobushwhackers, provided “back up” for the featured performers. This week’s featured artist was Lee Harper, who has created miniature dioramas of Oxford landmarks, called “Mississippi Memories in Miniature.”

Find more information about the performers in this show at:

Thacker Mountain Radio finished out November with these programs:

Nov. 4:  at The Old Armory Pavilion: Author Seth Wickersham: It’s Better to Be Feared: The New England Patriots Dynasty and the Pursuit of Greatness. Musical guests: Roots band Rocket 88 and gospel group Mighty Gospel Warriors.
Nov. 11:  at The Old Armory Pavilion: guest was Thomas Richardson, author of How to Read: Poems. Musical guests: Memphis brass band Mighty Souls Four and Delta bluesman Keith Johnson.

Thomas Richardson believes that the human journey is a lifelong exercise in understanding our world. This goal takes shape through juxtapositions of irreverence with serious theological exploration, and love with the lurking presence of death. Richardson’s compelling poems suggest we are never finished learning how to read.

Nov. 18: Season Finale at The Lyric Theater. Guest was Dr. Robert Khayat for 60: A Year of Sports, Race, & Politics, the story of the year the changed everything for a nation, our culture, and a young man from Mississippi. Musical guests: classical musician Jiwon Lee and indie-rockers, Olympic Music.

In 1960, 22-year-old Robert Khayat experienced a year in which his own life, the nation, and the state of Mississippi were forever changed. The same Spring that four college students in North Carolina refused to move from a segregated lunch counter, Khayat’s SEC champion Ole Miss baseball team was denied the right to play in the NCAA tournament because they might encounter a Black opponent. At the same time that young John F. Kennedy became a household name, Khayat’s dark-skinned father was making an unlikely ascent to become one of the most politically powerful men in Mississippi. And two high-profile segregationists – Redskins’ owner George Preston Marshall and Mississippi Governor Ross Barnett – would impact Khayat’s life in ways he could never imagine. The events of 1960 set a stage for a revolution, and Robert Khayat was living in the midst of it all.

Find more information about Thacker Mountain Radio at: The show is broadcast live every Thursday at 6:00 p.m. on WUMS – University of Mississippi, Rebel Radio 92.1, during the fall and spring, and every Saturday at 7 pm on Mississippi Public Broadcasting, Think Radio, FM 90.30;, as well as Fridays at 9:00 a.m. on WYXR 91.7 FM in Memphis.

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