Ruckers weave history, storytelling at park

Jul. 21, 2013 @ 10:19 AM

To mark the sesquicentennial observance of the Civil War, husband and wife musical duo Sparky and Rhonda Rucker performed at Sugarlands Visitors Center in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The folk musicians, who live in Maryville, incorporated a mixture of history, storytelling, and southern culture into their Saturday concert, performing music that was popular during the war.

“More music came out of the Civil War than any other war in history,” said Rhonda. “Some songs were actually banned by the soldiers because they made them homesick.”

Saturday’s musical lineup was taken from their historical program entitled “The Blue & Gray in Black and White.” The couple, who are also professional storytellers, made the performance relevant to the area by drawing on stories about how the war affected those living in the Smokies.

“I love living here,” Sparky said at the first performance. “You can get biscuits here, and you can’t get them anywhere north of the Mason-Dixon line.”

“And honest to God cornbread,” added Rhonda. “That’s reason enough to love it here.”

While partial to the area in which they reside, the couple travels throughout the U.S as well as overseas. “I love seeing different regions of the country as we tour,” Sparky said. “It’s all different, but it’s all us. That’s what I love about it.”

While we can now celebrate that diversity, the Ruckers also spoke about the divided loyalties across the state during the war.

“It’s an odd thing to put together the words civil and war,” he said. It’s like ‘honest politician’ or ‘jumbo shrimp.’ Some things just don’t make sense.”

To see the Ruckers’ tour schedule, book a performance, or learn more about the musical duo, visit www.sparkyandrhonda.com.

n jfrye@themountainpress.com