Although he doesn’t get nearly as much love as singers like Del McCoury or Russell Moore, Larry Sparks is one of the most talented troubadours in bluegrass history. With a history spanning five decades, Larry Sparks is an underrated master of the guitar with an incredibly rich repertoire of original songs to boot with his original band from the 1970s, the Lonesome Ramblers. Recently, Larry has collaborated with Alison Krauss, Joe Mullins, and Shawn Lane to record new and masterful versions of his classic songs. Enjoy all that and more in this week’s playlist featuring the one and only Larry Sparks!
Good article David. My buddies and I have been following “Sparky”, aka “Count Sparkula” or “Sparkomatic” since he started appearing in northeastern festivals in the mid 1970s. He used to project a very Gothic image on stage, and worked his band HARD. In the days with Wendy Miller and Mike Lilly they would spread out about 20 feet wide on the stage with one vocal mic and two instruments mics far away on the sides. Wendy and Mike would RUN like a football team at the scrimmage line to play their breaks and get back to sing. Action packed! People used to make up the wildest gossip about Sparky (he carries a 44 magnum and a pint of Jack Daniels in the pockets of his suits!) which of course was all foolishness. Sirius/XM DJ and bluegrass band leader Chris Jones (from Suffern NY by the way) was really focused on Larry in those days and sang and picked a lot of Larry’s recordings on stage around NY state with Horse Country. Larry usually surprised festival hosts because he was such a nice gentleman to do business with, unlike his somewhat stern stage appearance back then. Larry has aged gracefully, and his voice has just gotten more and more mellow and expressive. And he knows how make that guitar TALK!