Bucky Halker

Bucky Halker presenting at the JALC

For our Road Scholars Speakers Bureau, this scholar is fully booked through 2024. 
However, you may book them outside of any Illinois Humanities affiliation using the contact information in the “Booking Information” section below.

Bucky Halker is a long-time Road Scholar who has extensive knowledge of Illinois folk music and labor history. He has performed in venues throughout Illinois, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, and Canada for over 30 years. 

Bucky grew up in a small blue-collar town on Lake Superior and the local public programs that only occasionally came to town had a profound impact on his life. As a result, he is thoroughly and passionately committed to public humanities programming. He believes bringing programs such as these to small and remote communities helps people learn and also to think about new subjects and ideas, making people better, more well-informed citizens, who can deal with the complicated issues of our contemporary world and the decisions that need to be made to create a more truly democratic nation.

Presentation 1 of 2
Fully Booked

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. This program brings that tradition to the forefront. “Down in the Mine” combines music performance (guitar and vocal) and spoken commentary.

The presentation features songs and poems by coal miners, including Illinois miners. The commentary places this important folk tradition in a broader historical context and offers details on coal mining, coal-miner bards and songwriters, early country music, and individual songs.

Program Logistics

The presentation takes approximately 60-70 minutes, including audience participation. No equipment is necessary.

Presentation 2 of 2
Fully Booked

This Land Is Your Land: The Folksongs of Woody Guthrie

This Land Is Your Land is a program that combines music performance (guitar and vocal) and spoken commentary. The program features songs by legendary folksinger and songwriter Woodrow Wilson “Woody” Guthrie (1912-1967), as well as commentary on the time period and each song. This commentary frames the program in a larger historical context, and offers specific details on Guthrie’s songs and his biography. The program also includes two singalong songs.

Program Logistics

The presentation takes approximately 60-70 minutes, including audience participation. No equipment is necessary.


Bucky Halker is a songwriter, performer, and historian with 15 albums, 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 2016 and served on the Board of Directors for the Woody Guthrie Foundation for over ten years.

Bucky Halker 2023 Carbondale performance
Learn More and Follow Bucky

Did you know?

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

Book this Road Scholar

Follow the steps below to book a presentation.
  1. Contact Bucky to schedule a date and time via email at buckyhalker@gmail.com or phone at (312) 978-4803.
  2. Once you and Bucky have agreed upon a date and time, complete the online Road Scholars Host Organization application.
Contact Us

Fairouz AbuGhazaleh
Director of Statewide Programs

(312) 374-1553