Sparky Rucker has sung and rallied to the cause of freedom for more than 50 years. A longtime educator, folksinger and civil rights activist, he’s performed his extensive repertoire of African-American blues, Appalachian ballads and folk tales on NPR’s “A Prairie Home Companion,” at the National Folk Festival, and in schools and workshops throughout the U.S. He’s performed alongside Rosa Parks and Pete Seeger, and has served on the boards of several civil rights and anti-poverty organizations. Rucker performs alongside his wife, Rhonda. Their 1991 album, “Treasures and Tears,” was nominated for the W.C. Handy Award for Best Traditional Album. On Thursday, Sparky and Rhonda Rucker bring their stories and songs to The ArtsCenter in Carrboro for an 8 p.m. show. For more info: artscenterlive.org.
PineCone inaugurates its 2014 Down Home concert series Friday with Mandolin Orange at Fletcher Opera Theater in Raleigh. Also Friday, Nu Blu plays bluegrass at The ArtsCenter, which will host the acclaimed Western swing music of Hot Club of Cowtown on Saturday. Tony Williamson demonstrates the “Sound of the American Mandolin” with a free Sunday afternoon concert at the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh.