Wednesday Yarns features new coach

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Chris Beard will speak about Rebels basketball

The ‘Wednesday Yarns’ series continues on July 12, starting at 6:30 p.m., with Ole Miss Men’s Basketball Head Coach Chris Beard as the featured presenter.

The monthly series, which has free admission and takes place on the bottom floor of Moe’s Original BBQ, at a separate but connected establishment called Penny Bar – began last fall and has been on a roll ever since.  

Email newsletter signup

Steve Vassallo said Coach Beard had confirmed a spot as speaker for the very casual, one-night-a-month occasion, which usually lasts upwards towards an hour in duration.  

Attendees who aim to enjoy delicious barbecue along with the presentations are recommended to arrive closer to 6 p.m. to place orders at the full-service bar, and food is brought downstairs to patrons. 

“Please tell all your friends, as we want a huge crowd to show our support for Ole Miss basketball,” said Vassallo. 

Beard, the 23rd head men’s basketball coach at Ole Miss had originally been slated for a June appearance, although was forced to be in Texas on short notice to tend to family business.  

The monthly storytelling event, which has a different speaker or presenter every month, was “off the charts” with attendance when it began last October, Vassallo said.  Success continued through November, although there was nothing slated for December due to the holidays. 

Since October and November “passed the test,” Vassallo said, “we started out this year with all guns blazing,” as they hosted former Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate, Trent Lott as a speaker. 

Vassallo remarked that even younger attendees were captivated by Lott’s talk, especially when discussing his engagements and relationships with various U.S. presidents.

“I knew then, what we were doing was capturing the fancy of a lot of different generations of people,” he said. 

When Vassallo – who runs the event with wife Rosie – first presented the idea of a monthly storytelling night to Moe’s manager and owner John Allgood, a big selling-point was that it wouldn’t be for profit, but also, that it would offer a wide range of guests, covering many parts of the spectrum. 

In fact, the eleventh hour replacement for the month of June was a presentation and discussion of 1970s pop music megastars The Bee Gees.

Also, Cynthia Bolden, owner of Feel Good Nutrition in Oxford was a presenter earlier this year, and captured the audience’s attention by talking about ways to enhance health and the immune system.  

The only recurring speaker has been Starke Miller, an acclaimed historian, who talked about famous Oxford places and interesting stories which few folks know about.  “The reason he’s been here twice…there was such a demand to bring him back,” said Vassallo.

With regard to upcoming Wednesday Yarns events, on August 16 there will be a musical show.  The Brice’s Crossroads Foundation will bring seven popular songs of the CIvil War presented live, and discuss the history behind the songs.

Also Russell Blair, former head coach of Ole Miss men’s tennis team and Oxford native, in October will speak on the haunted places (perhaps best to avoid) here in town.

Then in November, Allyson Duckworth will take Oxford on an African Safari, and will talk about – as well as show interesting photographs of – various animal migratory habits in Africa. 

“All of these are different things.  And the good thing about it is, and what I love about it is, it attracts a different audience everytime we do it,” said Vassallo.  “Some of the people come because they’re interested in all these things, but I’d say everytime we do a show or a presentation of these Wednesday Yarns it’s kind of a different audience.”

Upcoming presentations scheduled for early-2024 include Dr. Al Price, one of the foremost scholars of Mary Magdalene, and a celebration of the 60th anniversary of The Beatles’ groundbreaking appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.