(Tremont 2004)

Midnight Memories album cover

What People Are Saying . . .

"Sparky & Rhonda Rucker turn in a fine traditional acoustic blues recording with Midnight Memories (Tremont 006), covering spirituals, Blind Boy Fuller's "Little Woman So Sweet," the Rev. Robert Wilkins' "Prodigal Son," and Tommy Johnson's "Big Road Blues" with deep feeling and reverence. The originals are interesting: "Campfire Memories" is an old-time country-flavored tune, while "Midnight Thirst" puts the melody line of Merle Haggard's "Working Man Blues" over a Jimmy Reed beat in an homage to monster movies. Rhonda plays understated harmonica and barrelhouse piano; Sparky's guitar work is sound and, on the basis of tone and technique, he might become one of your favorite blues singers after a single listen."

Tom Hyslop, "Blues Bites": Reviews in Brief, Blues Revue: The Blues Authority, # 89, August/September 2004

"Lots of excellent magic here. From a hard driving blues to a story song to a bunch of inspired silliness and a sentimental waltz, Sparky and Rhonda continue to show just how lively the American folk music tradition can be. Why, it's almost as good as one of their fine live performances."

Phil Shapiro, host since 1967, WVBR's Bound for Glory, America's longest running live folk concert broadcast, Sunday nights, Ithaca, NY 4/14/2004

Internationally acclaimed, cowboy-hatted James "Sparky" Rucker is not only an accomplished guitarist (in a John Jackson or Buddy Moss vein) and raw, unpolished vocalist, but a folklorist, storyteller, American Civil War historian and essayist as well. As a teenager he was active in the civil rights movement - performing freedom songs at marches and sit-ins, often sharing the stage with folk singers like Pete Seeger and Guy Carawan. This is Ruckers' eleventh self-produced project, also featuring his wife, Rhonda, on harmony vocals, wailing Sonny Terry-styled harmonica and keyboards. The album readily engages the listener with a captivating mix of covers, originals and Ruckerized versions of traditional material such as "Betty and Dupree" and affirming takes on Gospel warhorses "Stay on the Battlefield" and "Make a Change." High points for this critic include Rucker's own Bela Lugosi inspired "Midnight Thirst" and a fiddle-enhanced (Jay Ungar) melancholy waltz aptly titled "Snowing on the Redwoods" along with classics borrowed from old 78s by Tommy Johnson ("Big Road Blues"), Blind Boy Fuller, Robert Wilkins (a crying "Prodigal Son") and Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee. Pete Seeger says Rucker will "make you glad to be alive and struggling" while U. Utah Phillips opines that "it's an absolute must to see Sparky in concert." Take it from them.

Gary von Tersch, Sing Out! Magazine, Fall 2004

Home Page


Copyright © 2001-2019 by James "Sparky" Rucker and Rhonda H. Rucker. All rights reserved.
Web Site by Rhonda H. Rucker