James "Sparky" Rucker

music ~ storytelling ~ history

"It's an absolute must to see Sparky in concert!" 

"He is entertaining and educational in his music. He shouts, he howls, he moans, he murmurs, he admonishes, he demands. He zaps hecklers with love, spurs drunks to dance, and shares his stage with other performers. People can't help participating when Sparky performs." 

Blessed with an uncommonly evocative voice, a good-natured, perceptive sense of humor, and an enviable mastery of the guitar, Rucker knows how to leave an audience felling pretty good about the human race even after dealing with some serious subjects."  
~ ROBERT TRUSSELL, Kansas City Star

JAMES "SPARKY" RUCKER has been singing songs and telling stories from the American tradition for over fifty years. Sparky performs with his wife, Rhonda Rucker, adding vocals, guitar, banjo, and spoons to their music. They appeared on the Grammy-nominated CD, Singing Through the Hard Times, in 2009. Sparky has released sixteen albums, and their 1991 release, Treasures and Tears, was nominated for the W.C. Handy Award for Best Traditional Recording. 

Sparky's performing credits include the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, and the International Storytelling Festival as well as NPR's Prairie Home Companion, Mountain Stage, and Morning Edition. Other performing credits include the American Folk Blues Tour in Europe and the National Folk Festival at Wolf Trap. 

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. He also performed in Carry It On and Amazing Grace: Music in America, two videos produced by the Public Broadcasting System.

For more information, visit SPARKY'S FULL BIO.

Rhonda Lynn Rucker

musician ~ author ~ storyteller

"Rhonda is a virtual one-person band 
on harmonica, piano, and banjo." 

Sing Out! magazine 

"Rhonda is a talented performer, accompanying her husband on harmonica and harmony vocals. It's on the harmonica that she really shines, reflecting her study of Sonny Terry's techniques and her study with harmonica wizard Phil Wiggins." 

New Bedford Standard Times

"Rhonda, a talent to be reckoned with on harmonica, showed just what this seemingly simple instrument can do in the right mouth...."  

St. Augustine Record, in a review of a Palencia Elementary School program in Florida 

RHONDA LYNN RUCKER practiced medicine for five years before becoming an award-winning musician, author, and storyteller. Performing as the duo, Sparky & Rhonda Rucker, she and her husband have recorded ten albums together. Their uplifting presentations are a unique blend of knee-slapping rhythms punctuated by humor, history, and storytelling. Rhonda’s proficiency on banjo, blues harmonica, piano, vocals, guitar, and bones gives them a sound much larger than a duo. Their repertoire includes old-time blues, slave songs, Appalachian music, spirituals, ballads, civil rights songs, and their own original compositions. 

As if her instrumental versatility weren’t enough, Rhonda is also an accomplished author. She creates page-turners that are not only entertaining but also poignant—stories that evoke difficult questions about America’s struggle for justice. Her third book, Welcome to Bombingham (Pelican, 2019), takes place in 1960s Birmingham, Alabama, where an African American teenager seeks revenge after the Klan attacks his family. Sparky and Rhonda sell their CDs and books at concerts and through this website.

For more information, visit RHONDA'S FULL BIO.