Host Post: Ghosts of the Future

lyric-oxfordby Jim Dees – We love doing Thacker Mountain Radio at the Lyric. The acoustics are great and there’s room for more people yet it’s still small enough to be intimate. Plus, there’s refreshments.

The building itself has survived over a century of existence and even fire in the last 100 years, dating back to when William Faulkner’s father, Murry, ran it as a livery stable. Perhaps the ghosts of Faulkner’s past are still there, such as the real-life Uncle Ned Barnett, who Faulkner depended on for horse sense. Horses figure prominently throughout Faulkner’s fictional work as well as his real life. The great author died a month after being thrown by his horse, Stonewall, in June of 1962.

Singer-songwriter Paul Burch appreciates history and pays homage to another Mississippi native son, Jimmie Rodgers, on his new album Meridian Rising. His tunes update Jimmie into being the “Swinging Brakeman,” and should set ghosts’ toes tapping, as well as the living audience too. One of our favorite Memphis bluesmen, harmonica player John Nemeth, takes the classic soul tradition of Memphis and rocks it into the 21st Century. His newest is Feelin’ Freaky.

Our author this week is Ashley Christensen, a James Beard award-winning chef and restaurateur from Raleigh, N.C. Her new cookbook is Poole’s: Recipes and Stories from a Modern Diner (Ten Speed Press). Ashley respects old buildings like the Lyric. She recently converted a 10,000 square foot former Piggly Wiggly in Raleigh into three different food concerns, including Death & Taxes, which seats 60 and serves wood-fired foods such as chicken liver toast, dry-aged steak and roasted oysters. That’s what I call progress.

Faulkner did the same thing with his home, Rowan Oak. It was a shambles when he and his wife Estelle moved in in 1930. There was no plumbing or electricity; an outhouse with a Sears and Roebuck catalog stood in the backyard. Faulkner, with vision and perseverance, transformed it into a shrine to his genius that will stand for the ages.

Our guests performing at the Lyric on Thursday are steadfastly in a time-honored tradition that honors time. Theirs is an artistic vision that respects the past while shaping the future with excitement.

Music, good food and literature. Even the ghosts would approve.

The Thacker Mountain Radio Hour, Thursday, Oct. 13 at 6 pm (Doors: 5:30 pm) at The Lyric Theatre (1006 Van Buren Ave, Oxford, MS 38655). FREE admission. Guests: chef/author Ashley Christensen, Memphis bluesman John Nemeth and indie-rocker Paul Burch. Our house band, the Yalobushwhackers. Plenty of seating and drink service available.