BRIGHT AS YOU CAN Makes Best of 2015 at NPR and No Depression
Photo credit Eric Gerard (click for hi-res file.)
Photo credit Thomas Schnaidt (click for hi-res file.)
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 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)
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."