Last Thursday, February 27, 2014, I had the honor of being a guest on the long running Thacker Mountain Radio Show at Off Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi. I was joined on the show by musical guests, The Mulligan Brothers (from Mobile, Alabama), the Bill Perry Trio and the Foghorn Stringband. Thacker Mountain Radio is an Oxford institution that has been around since 2000. Every Thursday from 6:00 to 7:00 pm, approximately 150 to 200 people flock to Off Square Books for the live program, which is hosted by Jim Dees. The crowd is jovial and warm, and it was my pleasure to meet many interesting people both before and after the show.
As Dixie had to stay at home with the kids for this event, my Dad (Randy Bailey) made the trek to Oxford with me, and we arrived early enough to meet the owner of Square Books, Richard Howorth, who gave us directions to Rowan Oak, the home of William Faulkner. We also got a glimpse of a few copies of The Professor in the display window of Square Books, which was a “pinch me” moment for me.
Before the show began, we were greeted by Lyn Roberts, general manager of Square Books, who made sure Dad and I had a front row seat for the show. My fantastic publicist, Julie Schoerke, whose son attends Ole Miss, also came to the show and had a bird’s eye seat. Finally, the producer of the show, Kathryn McGraw, guided me through the sound check, and made sure everything was a go before the show began.
It is hard to describe the feeling of reading a passage of your novel to the crowd at Thacker Mountain Radio in what has to be the literary capital of the world. As I told the audience when I introduced myself, as a boy who grew up reading William Faulkner and Willie Morris and who later loved the stories of John Grisham and Larry Brown, setting foot in Oxford for the first time and seeing my book on the display window of Square Books was, at least for me, like a golfer teeing off at Augusta for the first time. Just an incredible experience that I will never forget.
After the show, Dad and I followed the patrons to the bar above City Grocery, where it is tradition for everyone to have a drink and talk about the night’s event. We had a fantastic time, and topped it off with dinner downstairs. If you haven’t had the shrimp and grits at City Grocery, you need to add that to the bucket list. Wow!
After a full day of it, Dad and I hopped in the car for the three and a half hour road trip home. It was a day I won’t soon forget.