Mary McCaslin and Jim Ringer, who were married to each other, both had successful solo folk careers in the 1970s (see individual entries for each artist). They also toured together and, in 1978, made an album as a duo, The Bramble & the Rose. This was not a wholly successful mating, as McCaslin's higher and clearer voice did not mix too well with Ringer's low and throaty one. The record did not contain any original material, relying on both traditional folk tunes and songs by other performers, such as Larry Murray and Herb Pedersen. Strains of country and rock were also present, as on their cover of "Hit the Road, Jack."
McCaslin and Ringer were both on the way to becoming established folk performers on their own when they became romantically involved in the early 1970s. They started touring together, at first doing separate sets as soloists, and then starting to augment those sets with spots in which they played and sang together. McCaslin and Ringer also contributed to each other's solo albums. McCaslin and Ringer separated in the late 1980s, and Ringer died in 1992.