The Ole Miss Motel is not on the Ole Miss campus. My motel room has a king-size bed with three pillows labeled soft, medium, and firm. The light in the bathroom makes the room shake, but it’s too dark when it’s off. There’s a refrigerator and a microwave and a television that makes a video game noise when the power’s turned on. The Ole Miss Motel is only three blocks from the square.
Inside The Lyric
Still inside The Lyric
The irrepressible Tyler Keith onstage at Thacker
The multi-dimensional Silas Reed onstage
Mary Elizabeth Cochran
Julie Anna Murphy
Outside The Lyric
Alex Warren, Dent May, Tyler Keith, and Scott Rorie
Print Chouteau of Flight
Scott and Finley Hughes
Lindsey Else, visiting from Minnesota
Sterling and friend
Print and John Barrett of Bass Drum of Death
OA columnist Jack Pendarvis caught, once again, in reflection.
Cary Hudson with OAer Meghan Tear Plummer
The quickest, easiest, most clichéd way to describe Thacker Mountain Radio of Oxford, Mississippi, is to call it a Dixie-fried version of A Prairie Home Companion. That shortcut hardly conveys Thacker Mountain’s enchanting, quirky, and thus distinctive character. If you’ve never heard the show on your radio—or on your Dick Tracy X-12 wristwatch—or experienced it in person, you need to change that. The show is a gift any way you catch it.
The Oxford American was lucky enough to be invited to contribute to a recent installment of Thacker Mountain Radio. Here is a clip of Joey Lauren Adams reading a piece on Tyler Keith by Lisa Howorth from the Mississippi Music issue. Click here to see and hear more segments of the show that we did with Thacker Mountain Radio.
You can absorb other audio goodies on Thacker’s website: www.thackermountain.com
We came to Oxford last Thursday for the Thacker show, and even though we wanted to stay longer than a day, we knew we had to return home immediately. You see, we had left behind a deadline in Arkansas—and OA deadlines are demanding brutes. The main reason we wanted to extend our stay was that the annual Double Decker Festival was taking over Oxford’s downtown square the day after our Thacker involvement. If you don’t know, the Double Decker Festival is an extravaganza of tremendous and (mostly) free music. Among these year’s acts: Mavis Staples, Iron & Wine, Jimbo Mathus & The Tri-State Coalition, Young Buffalo, the Funky Meters, and Patterson Hood (with dad).
But we had to leave.
If you have visited Oxford, Mississippi, of late, you will remember how it pulled on you. How it charmed you with sweet, coaxing whispers. How it enveloped you in a slinky, warm embrace and wouldn’t easily let you go.
So we stayed an extra day.
Fact: Oxford doesn’t change even as it changes.
Fact: More than ever, creativity abounds in Oxford—positively springs from the ground and pours from the sky and seeps from the walls. Just about any barroom on the square on any night will be teeming with zany, alert creativity in the forms of writers, teachers, musicians, producers, artists, restaurateurs, scholars, entrepreneurs, prophets, fashionistas, photographers, painters, sculptors, and designers. There they will be, crammed, happily, into one wood-floored room, all of them analyzing and tweaking the universe they so sharply sense.
Fact: There is a new record store in town. It’s called The End of All Music, and a primary owner is Bruce Watson, who is also one of the chiefs of the fabled Fat Possum tribe. Bruce dubbed the place The End of All Music in reference to an insight by the great rockabiller Charlie Feathers, of Holly Springs, Miss., who once called the great bluesman Junior Kimbrough of Hudsonville, Miss., “The beginning and end of all music.” In our little party was an inveterate record-store habitué. You could even call him, with accuracy, an unbearable record-store snob. He entered The End of All Music fearing it might only have superficial boutique-y charms, but when he left—after spending almost a full day in the place—he bored us with his happiness and rhapsodies about: the stock, the groovy design and impeccable neatness of the place, the fair prices of the records, the clientele, and the quirky, smart, knowledgeable clerks. You will be hearing more about this special joint from us later. But for now, we’d advise all music lovers to consider The End of All Music an essential target. We don’t kid about record stores.
Fact: While snooping in Off Square Books, the branch of the mighty Square Books franchise that sells used books and cool magazines and other surprises, we overheard a customer asking a clerk why the music section there was so scant. The clerk responded that they were hurriedly trying to sell all of their music stock so that there would be no music left for sale at the store. They were doing this, she said, so as to throw support for the new record shop in town, The End of All Music. Behavior like that, your OA eavesdropper immediately recognized, was how one demonstrates support of local culture, rather than just…platitudinizes about it. What a remarkable environment.
Inside Square Books
Inside Square Books
Beckett Howorth, son of Richard and Lisa, at Square Books
Mary Elizabeth Cochran with her husband Pat, The OA's online music columnist
Cole of the band Dead Gaze
Cole's girlfriend, whose smile made us forget her name
Musician supreme Dent May
Boy with legs
Two Ole Miss girls who asked for their photo to be taken. We obliged.
Oxford Courthouse at night
Ole Miss student and Thacker Mountain intern Betsy Lynch
Probably the last people to be seen hanging out on The Square on Friday night.
Jack Pendarvis-approved chicken on a stick
Jumpin' Jack Cochran, son of Pat and Mary Elizabeth
The worth-it wait outside John and Bessy Currence's Big Bad Breakfast
David at the Ole Miss Motel
Jimmy and Chris Cajoleas at The End of All Music, Oxford's brilliant new record store
Young Natalie looking for The Gants' first album