Mike + Ruthy are Hudson Valley based songwriters who have made waves in the Americana world and beyond. In 2018 they reformed their seminal stringband The Mammals and released the self-produced, Sunshiner, which Tape-Op magazine called "some of the best folk-rock music you will ever hear." These two believe in the transformative power of a great live performance. Touring upwards of a 100 shows a year (with their two kids in tow), Mike + Ruthy also produce a bi-annual folk festival called The Hoot of which the late Pete Seeger called "one of the best song gatherings I've seen in all my 94 years."
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, these troubadours bring harmony-driven fiddle and banjo tunes to more than 100 shows a year.
Road-tested material such as the pair’s celebrated reharmonizing of Woody Guthrie’s “My New York City” cement Merenda and Ungar’s status as a “national treasure,” according to peer Anaïs Mitchell.
Merenda is a prolific songwriter, who’s recent crowd-pleasing piece, Sunshiner, was nominated for an International Folk Music Award for Song of the Year. It is an ode to renewable energy which simultaneously honors the past and looks to the future with the sing-along lyric, “Yes my Daddy was a miner, but I’m gonna be a sunshiner.”
Ungar’s unique vocal style ranges from a capella balladry to earthy soul and country. She was raised in a folk music family and learned the fiddle at a young age. Her father is fiddler/composer Jay Ungar, best known for his composition Ashokan Farewell which she also enjoys performing.
Mike + Ruthy have recorded and performed their exquisite, original, Americana music together for two decades, as the duo Mike + Ruthy and with their quintet The Mammals. They make their home in the lush Hudson River Valley of New York where they and friends host their own thriving community folk festival, The Hoot.
A recent tour of the UK, prompted this concert review from Celtic Music Radio, “Hailed by many as Americana trailblazers, Ruth Ungar and Mike Merenda, happily married and exuding togetherness on stage, are also gently-mannered activists with well-crafted songs that successfully ask potent questions of politicians and raise issues to probe how we can improve the planet. They deliver their material persuasively and in an eloquent manner with enjoyment of their music underpinning the approach overall. The music is the motivator throughout.”
Mike + Ruthy concerts blend artistry and authenticity, with fiery fiddle & banjo, emotionally potent harmonies, and dynamic stories that deepen the experience. Tap your toes and sing along as Mike + Ruthy “roam effortlessly through the whole span that is Americana, from alt-country to folk to bluegrass." (The Bluegrass Situation)se
“'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