Martha Spencer and Frank Rische are an American roots duo hailing from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and Nashville, Tennessee. Both grew up in musical families and began performing at a young age. They met at a fiddlers convention in Mount Airy, NC and hit it off after singing George Jones’ “Color of the Blues” together, and then an all night jam of old time and bluegrass picking and grinning. Their shows combine a love of old and new with country duet singing, fancy flatpicking, old time banjo and fiddle , energetic dancing and a healthy dose of original numbers.
Martha grew up in the Appalachian mountains into the Spencer family, one with a long tradition of old time fiddlers, banjo pickers, singers, dancers and instrument makers. She grew up going with her folks to little mountain dance halls, flatfooting from the time she could walk. She learned to play fiddle, guitar, clawhammer banjo, bass and a few other instruments from her mom and dad and other folks in the mountain music community. Martha also loves songwriting and has written and recorded a lot of original numbers. She performs in many groups including the Whitetop Mountain Band, Spencer Branch and the Old Time Country Roadshow and has toured across the USA, Australia, UK, New Zealand, Ireland and Canada playing such venues as Merlefest, the Smithsonian, the Kennedy Center, the National Folk Festival and Song of the Mountains PBS show. She’s also been recognized for her Appalachian dancing and demonstrated and led many dance workshops at many festivals. Martha is also active with several projects like the Junior Appalachian Musicians program, Radio Bristol, the Backroads of America Show, Mountain Music Magazine and the Albert Hash Memorial Stringband program for youth.
Frank was born in a motorhome on the way to a gig and grew up playing bluegrass with his family on the road, gigging everywhere from Texas to Branson to Myrtle Beach before settling in Nashville in 2000. His family band was discovered by Cowboy Jack Clements; they began performing a lot in downtown Nashville and eventually recorded a country album for Sony as Jypsi. Frank currently also tours with his sister, Lillie Mae, the Old Time Country Roadshow and with several other groups. He’s performed with various bands at everywhere from the Grand Ole Opry, Hardly Strictly, and Bonnaroo to The Late Night Show and Conan O’ Brien. Frank also has been a part of several Nashville recordings on guitar and harmony vocals with artists such as Miranda Lambert, Jim Lauderdale, Leann Womack, and Ronnie Milsap to name a few.
Listeners have described Martha and Frank as going together like “peaches and cream”, “Sonny and Cher”, “peas and carrots” and “Johnny and June”. Both love music and it’s a huge part of their lives and vey evident in their performances together.