He's a songwriting guitar-slinger with a knack for clawhammer banjo. She's a fiddler and uke-chanteuse who grew up in the American roots underground, the daughter of GRAMMY-winning fiddler, Jay Ungar.
Mike + Ruthy are “musicians’ musicians” who have found fans and friends in the Americana world and beyond. Their band, The Mammals, enjoyed success in the 00's and has resurfaced with a brand new album Sunshiner of which Folk Alley said, "it’s when Merenda and Ungar are singing together, through a whole song in harmony, that the heart of this project is worn on its sleeve. Indeed, the Mammals are all heart, and Sunshiner seems to be packed with ideas about how love will yet win over darkness and fear. If there’s a moral to this story, it’s nowhere better stated than in the final line of the final song on the disc. Singing in unison, with instrumentation so relaxed it’s like the world’s gentlest wake-up call, the line comes out of the fog: 'May we never say goodbye to all our big ideas.'"
These two believe in the virtue of well-formed lyrics and the transformative power of a great live show. They write top-tier songs, tour with their kids and five-piece band (a sound they’ve taken to calling rural rock), and perform for audiences worldwide with a charm and on-stage ease that might make you think they’re your new best friends. Woody Guthrie's guitar killed fascists. This family carries the torch.
“'One of the year’s standout Americana albums."
"In the vanguard of today’s vibrant folk revival."
"[Bright As You Can] spans folk, bluegrass, vintage country and just about everything else that falls under the catch-all heading of 'Americana.'”
"Everything is masterfully performed as Mike Merenda and Ruthy Ungar sing about the charms of hard work, homemade wine and free parking. Amid the barn dance reverie created by fiddle, pedal steel, horns and more, Ruthy's versatile alto is the most glorious instrument of all."
"It’s that ability to go beyond the boundaries that allow The Mike + Ruthy Band to temper their folk finesse and do so with such skill, they’re actually able to set themselves apart."
"Cigarette gently faces the horrors of the world, praying that a good song will offer some kind of salvation. These uplifting songs do."
“Bright As You Can seems to be honoring the great musical traditions of the past while at the same time welcoming, with open arms, the future of what music can be.”
"True musicianship is alive and well."
- Performer Magazine (feature)
"On their upcoming Bright As You Can LP, the duo rumbles and tumbles their way through 14 finely crafted tunes that roam effortlessly through the whole span that is Americana, from alt-country to folk to bluegrass."
"This is a record about what it is to be human. It's a record about what it is to have an inextricable allegiance to tradition, while feeling compelled to speak for oneself. It's a record that will grab you, that won't let you go."
"When it comes to chemistry, Mike Merenda and Ruth Ungar have plenty to spare. Onstage, they are Mike + Ruthy, a husband-and-wife duo setting the indie-folk scene ablaze. Singers and storytellers, poets and parents, the two tour with their children in tow, embodying a down-home approach to Americana. Bouncing between festivals and intimate venues, the troubadours bring harmony-driven fiddle and banjo tunes to more than 100 shows a year. Road-tested material such as the pair’s celebrated recording of Woody Guthrie’s “My New York City” cement Merenda and Ungar’s status as a “national treasure,” according to peer Anaïs Mitchell."
- Seven Days, Burlington, VT
"Easily a new favorite"
- The New York Times
"Some of the best songwriting of their generation"
- LA Weekly
"Infectious new folk rock"
- Boston Globe
“These two will shatter any stereotypical misconceptions of what it means to be a folk musician.”
- The Coastal Journal