Sparky and Rhonda Rucker deliver uplifting presentations of toe-tapping songs spiced with humor, history, and tall tales. Their music includes a variety of old-time blues, Appalachian music, slave songs, and spirituals as well as originals, and they accompany themselves with fingerstyle picking and bottleneck blues guitar, old-time banjo, blues harmonica, piano, spoons, and bones.
Sparky’s research on the African-American ballad tradition culminated in the highly acclaimed recording, Heroes and Hard Times. Rhonda is an author, and her third book, Welcome to Bombingham, is a historical novel set against the backdrop of the Birmingham Children’s March during the civil rights movement.
Over several decades of performing, Sparky and Rhonda have performed at the Kennedy Center and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival as well as NPR’s On Point, Prairie Home Companion, Mountain Stage, and Morning Edition. Their recording, Treasures & Tears, was nominated for a W.C. Handy Award, and their music is also included on the Grammy-nominated anthology, Singing Through the Hard Times. The duo’s most recent recording is Down by the Riverside.