Presentation 1 - This Land Is Your Land: The Folksongs of Woody Guthrie

Woody Guthrie (1912-1967) is America’s most legendary folksong writer. His music continues to uplift and excite musicians and audiences around the world. Inspired by Guthrie’s most famous song, This Land Is Your Land features the performance (guitar and vocal) of several Guthrie songs, as well as commentary on the time period and each song. The program also places Guthrie and his music in a larger historical context while also offering details on his life.

This program will run 60-70 minutes and allows time for questions and answers. No special equipment is needed for this program.

Program Topics

  • Folk Music
  • Labor History
  • Great Depression

Book this presentation by first scheduling a date with Bucky via email or phone at 312.978.4803, then completing the Road Scholars Host Organization application.


Bucky Halker performing at German Club

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Presentation 2 - Down in the Mine: American Coal Miners and Their Songs, 1890-1960

Coal miners in Illinois and the rest of the US have a long tradition of writing poetry and music related to their occupation and this program brings that tradition to the forefront. Down in the Mine combines music performance (guitar and vocal) and commentary. The presentation features songs by coal miners, including Illinois miners. The commentary places this important folk tradition in historical context and offers details on coal mining, mining accidents, labor struggles, coal-miner bards and songwriters, early country music, and individual songs.

This program will run 60-70 minutes and allows for questions and answers as well. No special equipment is needed for this program.

Program Topics

  • Folk Music
  • Labor History
  • Illinois

Book this presentation by first scheduling a date with Bucky via email or phone at 312.978.4803, then completing the Road Scholars Host Organization application.


Bucky Halker presenting at the JALC

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About Road Scholar Bucky Halker

Bucky Halker is a songwriter, performer, and historian with 15 albums to his credit, including Anywhere But Utah: Songs of Joe Hill (2015), a musical tribute to martyred labor songwriter Joe Hill (1879-1915), and The Ghost of Woody Guthrie (2012), an original music tribute to the legendary folksinger.  Halker, a Ph.D. in American History, has lectured and published extensively on music in America and has toured Europe regularly since 1990. He is the author of For Democracy, Workers, and God: Labor Song-Poems and Labor Protest, 1865-1895 (University of Illinois Press) and the scholar-producer for the five-volume Folksongs of Illinois CD series.  Bucky received the prestigious Archie Green Fellowship from the Library of Congress – American Folklife Center in 2012.  He served as guest professor of American Studies at Carl von Ossietzky University in Oldenburg, Germany, in the spring of 2016.

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Did You Know?

Bucky started the Road Scholars program in 1997 when he worked for Illinois Humanities.  He also produced three volumes of the Folksongs of Illinois CD series while working with us.

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About Illinois Humanities Road Scholars Speakers Bureau

Since 1997, our Road Scholars Speakers Bureau has invited Illinois writers, storytellers, historians, folklorists, musicians, and living history actors, among others, to share their expertise and enthusiasm with people throughout our state. It also supports local nonprofit organizations – including libraries, museums, arts councils, historical societies, civic groups, and many others – in presenting free-admission cultural programs of high quality to their communities for a modest application fee, which can be waived if your organization is experiencing financial hardship.

Our Road Scholars Speakers Bureau roster features speakers hailing from many different communities across Illinois who offer presentations on topics in history, archaeology, philosophy, literature, theater, film, music, politics, and other subjects that are thought-provoking and engaging. The breadth of these offerings reflects our conviction that the humanities can help us to examine the world in all its varied shades and discover in it the remarkable, the strange, the fantastic, the tragic, the humorous, and the beautiful.

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