Performing in Springfield at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 22, are Sparky and Rhonda Rucker, a husband-and-wife team who play "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." They'll be at the Abraham Lincoln Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 745 Woodside Rd. just west of South Second Street Road and the Toronto Road exit off I-55. Tickets are $10 or $5.
Here's the blurb from Prairie Grapevine Folklore Society, which is sponsoring the concert:
Sparky Rucker has been performing 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 Rucker is an accomplished harmonica, piano, banjo, and bones player, and also adds vocal harmonies to their songs.I should add this: I consider Sparky an old friend, and I first got interested in roots music hearing Sparky, and a lot of other old-time musicians, play at parties, festivals and taverns near the University of Tennessee campus back in the day (I won't say how long ago, especially after Prairie Grapevine gave it away), and he has a deep knowledge of America's diverse musical traditions. He plays music instead of teaching classes, but he's one of the most sensitive historians of American culture I know. In fact I first heard about Robert Johnson, one of the artists we'll study this semester, from Sparky.
Sparky and Rhonda are sure to deliver an uplifting presentation of toe-tapping music spiced with humor, history, and tall tales. They take their audience on an educational and emotional journey that ranges from poignant stories of slavery and war to an amusing rendition of a Brer Rabbit tale or their witty commentaries on current events.
Enough testifying. Let's get to the point.
At some point during the semester, I want all of you to attend a live roots music event and write up your reaction to it. You'll use the three questions I've been bombarding you with: (1) What stands out about the performance? (2) Why do I feel that way? And (3) What, specifically, about the performance makes me feel that way? I never require my students to spend money outside of class, and there will be free musical events you can also attend. But the Ruckers' music relates directly to what we're studying in HUM 223, and their concert would be an excellent choice for your live performance paper. In the next few days, I will have more instructions for you on how to write this paper, along with more suggestions for roots music events in our area.