From their home in Maryville, Tennessee, Sparky and Rhonda Rucker perform throughout the U.S. as well as overseas, singing songs and telling stories from the American folk tradition. James “Sparky” Rucker grew up in Knoxville and has been performing for over forty years and is internationally recognized as a leading folklorist, musician, historian, storyteller, and author. He accompanies himself with fingerstyle picking and bottleneck blues guitar, banjo, and spoons. Rhonda Hicks Rucker is from Louisville, Kentucky, and she practiced medicine for five years before becoming a full-time folk musician. She is a versatile performer, playing blues harmonica, piano, banjo, and adding vocal harmonies.
Sparky and Rhonda deliver an uplifting presentation of toe-tapping music spiced with humor, history, and tall tales. Their music includes a variety of old-time blues, slave songs, Appalachian music, spirituals, ballads, work songs, Civil War music, cowboy music, railroad songs, and a few of their own original compositions.
Sparky and Rhonda have numerous recordings, and their 1991 release, Treasures and Tears, was nominated for the W.C. Handy Award for Best Traditional Recording. They have also contributed music to the syndicated television miniseries The Wild West (directed by Keith Merrill). Sparky's unique renditions of John Henry and Jesse James were used in the National Geographic Society’s 1994 video entitled Storytelling in North America. Sparky Rucker has also appeared on numerous radio programs, including National Public Radio’s Morning Edition, Prairie Home Companion, and Mountain Stage. He also performed in Carry It On and Amazing Grace: Music in America, two videos produced by the Public Broadcasting System.
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