Sunset Concert Series

Sunset Music Series Premiers with Sparky & Rhonda Rucker

Townsend, TN .–Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center’s Sunset Concert Series premiers with Sparky & Rhonda Rucker on Friday, June 20 at 7:00 pm. This is the third year of the series presented in the outdoor amphitheater of the Heritage Center, with five summer concerts and two more in October scheduled.

From their home in Maryville, Tennessee, Sparky and Rhonda Rucker perform throughout the U.S. as well as overseas, singing songs and telling stories from the American folk tradition. James ‘Sparky’ Rucker grew up in Knoxville and has been performing for over forty years and is internationally recognized as a leading folklorist, musician, historian, storyteller, and author. He accompanies himself with finger style picking and bottleneck blues guitar, banjo, and spoons. Rhonda Hicks Rucker is from Louisville, Kentucky, and she practiced medicine for five years before becoming a full-time folk musician. She is a versatile performer, playing blues harmonica, piano, banjo, and adding vocal harmonies.

Sparky and Rhonda deliver an uplifting presentation of toe-tapping music spiced with humor, history, and tall tales. Their music includes 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.

Sparky and Rhonda have numerous recordings, and their 1991 release, Treasures and Tears, was nominated for the W.C. Handy Award for Best Traditional Recording. They have also contributed music to the syndicated television miniseries The Wild West (directed by Keith Merrill). 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.’  Sparky Rucker has also appeared on numerous radio programs, including National Public Radio’s Morning Edition, Prairie Home Companion, and Mountain Stage. He also performed in Carry It On and Am azing Grace: Music in America, two videos produced by the Public Broadcasting System.

For more information about Sparky & Rhonda Rucker, visit

Admission to this concert is $4.00 for adults, $3.00 for seniors 61 and older, and $3.00 for children 6-17. Children under 6 are admitted free. Tickets may be purchased at the door. The Sunset Concert Series is sponsored by BankEast. For further information, call the Center at 865-448-0044.

Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center


Presented by

Friday, June 20 Sparky & Rhonda Rucker

Toe-tapping songs and stories from American folklore

Friday, June 27 Ghost Mountain Rhythm & Blues

Blues, R&B, and original mountain mambo

Friday, July 18 Blue Mother Tupelo

‘Swampedelic’  southern soul

Friday, July 25 Labron Lazenby & LA3

Blues, boogie and rockabilly

Friday, August 1 Jeff Barbra & Sarah Pirkle

Country, folk and bluegrass

Saturday, October 4 Wild Blue Yonder

Bluegrass-based Americana

Saturday, October 11 Jenna & The Joneses

Funky, jammin Rhythm & Blues