If you were in the big tent when Mike + Ruthy rocked Cambridge Folk Festival, creating such a buzz that 3000 revellers packed the space to dance, whoop and cheer in what turned out to be a magical celebration, you’ll know how powerfully uplifting a pairing this is.
They brought the full band over. We still hear people talking about it to this day.
Singers and storytellers, poets and parents, the couple have a down-home approach to Americana that is honest, beautiful and raw. When not on the road with their band, The Mammals, they take their harmony-driven fiddle and banjo show out on tour.
Admired by peers and fans alike, Anais Mitchell has described them as “a national treasure.” So highly regarded are they, that privileged access to the Woody Guthrie archive was given and permission to complete/re-work an unfinished piece, My New York City.
Merenda’s songs paint pictures of the world we want to live in, inspired in great part by author, Daniel Quinn. With the likes of What It All Is, and Beyond Civilization, his lyrics embrace the notion that we are all connected, to each other and to the Earth. Sunshiner, which simultaneously honours the past and looks to the future, won an International Folk Music Award nomination for Song of the Year.
Ungar’s outstanding 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 composing Ashokan Farewell which she also enjoys performing. Just as his evocative playing can be emotionally charged for some, so too does Ruthy weave a magical spell when she steps forward.
Reviewing The Mammals’ 2019 Celtic Connections show, writer Mike Ritchie, said: “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 and raise issues to probe how we can improve the planet.”