music, storytelling, history

Down by the Riverside

Sparky and Rhonda Rucker

Down by the Riverside album cover

Study War No More
Lord, Hold My Hand
Welcome Table
There is a Fountain
Pass Me Not
Somewhere Listening

I Got Shoes
Near the Cross
Oh Mary
By and By

Make a Change

by Rhonda Lynn Rucker

Make a Change book cover


When Marvin asks his mama why they have to stand and wait
to take their food home while everyone else can eat at the
lunch counter, her answer doesn’t make a lot of sense to him.
“When some people look at us, all they see is our skin color.”
Despite his fear of the man who told him his kind wasn’t
allowed to sit at the lunch counter, Marvin knows that it’s up to
him to make a change.

Inspired by co-author James “Sparky” Rucker’s childhood,
this significant story illuminates the tumultuous history of
African Americans. Powerful illustrations and a historical note
from the author makes this picture book an excellent
educational resource on past and current racial tensions.

For a list of all publications:Books and Articles

Book Reviews

Swing Low, Sweet Harriet

by Rhonda Hicks Rucker

Swing Low, Sweet Harriet book cover


Swing Low, Sweet Harriet is a middle-grade historical
novel based on Harriet Tubman’s work as a spy and
scout during the Civil War when she helped lead African
American soldiers on the Combahee River raid in
South Carolina. For full description: Books and Articles

Book Reviews

Let Freedom Ring

Sparky and Rhonda Rucker

Let Freedom Ring album cover

We Shall Not Be Moved
Living River
Marching Through Georgia
Wade in the Water
Uncle Sam's Daughter
Oh Freedom
Which Side Are You On?

Corrina, Corrina
Circle of Love
Midnight Special
Hold On
Dog, Dog
We Shall Overcome

CD Reviews

One Earth

Sparky and Rhonda Rucker

One Earth album cover


Point of No Return
Space That You Left Behind
One Earth
My Blues
Two Hearts in Trouble
Drive Back the Night

Winter is Nigh
Silas McGee
Hard As Stone
Song for Babe
The Best of Me
Ramblin' 'Round the World

CD Reviews

The Mountains Above and the Valleys Below

Traditional Appalachian Music
Sparky and Rhonda Rucker

Appalachian album cover


Reuben's Train
Camp a Little While in the Wilderness
Pretty Polly
Rovin' Gambler
Ain't Gonna Throw it Away
The Good Old Way (Down in the Valley to Pray)
Goin' 'Cross the Mountain
Tom Dooley

Bound for the Promised Land
C. C. Rider
Ezekiel Saw the Wheel
Mole in the Ground
Pretty Saro
John the Revelator
Down in the Valley

CD Reviews

Done Told the Truth, Goodbye!

Traditional American Folk Tales
Sparky and Rhonda Rucker

storytelling album cover


Br'er Fox's Hunting Trip
Why the Alligator's Back is Rough
The Nature of Tricksters

Long John
Big Sixteen
Br'er Coon and the Frogs
Elder Rucker and the Ghosts

CD Reviews

"Warm, wonderful stories performed by two of Tennessee's most gifted storytellers. These are the stories you wish had been told by your parents and grandparents."
Sam Venable,
Knoxville News-Sentinel columnist

Midnight Memories

Sparky and Rhonda Rucker

midnight memories album cover


Midnight Thirst
Little Woman So Sweet
Big Road Blues
Campfire Memories
Prodigal Son
Betty and Dupree

Stay on the Battlefield
Walkin' My Blues Away
Snowin' on the Redwoods
Make A Change

CD Reviews

The Blue & Gray in Black & White

Sparky and Rhonda Rucker

blue & gray album cover

(Currently out of print)

The Battle Cry of Freedom
Dixie's Land
Bonnie Blue Flag
Cumberland Gap
Home Sweet Home

O I'm a Good Old Rebel
Tenting on the Old Campground
Glory Hallelujah Suite
There is a Fountain Filled With Blood

Songs of Celebration

Sparky and Rhonda Rucker

Eventide album cover


Go Tell It On the Mountain
Silent Night
Jingle Bells
Faith of Our Fathers
Simple Gifts
Welcome Table
Amazing Grace

Somewhere Listening
Were You There?
Oh, Mary
Spirit Calling
Lakotah Lullabye
Near The Cross
Pass Me Not

Treasures & Tears

Sparky and Rhonda Rucker

Treasures & Tears album cover


Stranger Blues
Space That You Left Behind
Louise McGhee/Death Letter Blues
Buffalo Soldier Suite
Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho

Footprints on the Ceiling
Shady Grove
Last Chance Shakin' in the Bed
Careless Love
Titanic Epic

A Magic Night

James "Sparky" Rucker

A Magic Night album cover


Lay My Burden Down
Walkin' Blues
Rally Round the Flag
I've Been Working on the Railroad
Follow the Drinking Gourd

Satisfied and Tickled Too
What a Friend We Have in Jesus
Drive Back the Night
Pallet on the Floor
Irene Goodnight
A Beautiful Life

Drive Back the Night

James "Sparky" Rucker

Drive Back the Night album cover


Babylon Blues
Lay My Burden Down
M & O Blues
Blues in a Bordertown Jail
Drive Back the Night
A Song for Babe

Satisfied and Tickled Too
Kind-Hearted Woman
Break of Day Blues
A Beautiful Life
Rock Me Baby
Crossroads Blues

A Home in Tennessee

James "Sparky" Rucker

A Home in Tennessee album cover


Froggy Went A Courtin'
Skip to my Lou
Candy Man
Oh Susannah
Red River Valley

Sail Away Ladies
My Home's Across the Smoky Mountains
I've Been Working on the Railroad
She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain

Heroes & Hard Times:

Black American Ballads and Story Songs

James "Sparky" Rucker
with John Davis and Rhonda H. Rucker

Heroes and Hard Times album cover


John Henry/Po' Boy
Take This Hammer
I've Been Working on the Railroad
900 Miles
Stagger Lee
Follow the Drinking Gourd
John Hardy

Delia Holmes
Poor Lazarus
Yellow Rose of Texas
Battle Hymn of the Republic
Go Down, Moses (with Rhonda)
Jesse James (with Rhonda)

Cold & Lonesome On a Train

James "Sparky" Rucker
with John Davis

Cold and Lonesome on a Train album cover


Here Rattler Here
Cold and Lonesome On a Train
Come On in My Kitchen
The Bakery Truck is Comin'
Railroad Bill
Kind-Hearted Woman
Hesitation Blues

Love in Vain
Go Down Old Hannah
Divin' Duck Blues
Walkin' Blues
Pallet on the Floor
Silas McGee
Gospel Train

Patchwork Tales:
Stories From the Rucker Performance Archives

with Rhonda Rucker

Patchwork Tales album cover

(Currently out of print)

The Tricksters
Long John
Bootlegger's Blues
Against the Law
Bootlegger's (Reprise)

Goin' Fishin'
Brer Rabbit and Sister Hornet
Chain Gangs and Donuts
Here Rattler! Here!

Tall Tales of the Blue Ridge:
Stories From the Heart of Appalachia

(Video released by Eastern National Park & Monument Association)

This collection of tales features Sparky Rucker, Ray Hicks, and Donald Davis (with music by Sparky and Rhonda Rucker).

Bound to Sing the Blues

Sparky Rucker

(Out of print)

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