Mike and Ruthy performed at The Valley Stage Music Festival in 2010
These artists are a song-writing, harmony-singing, banjo and fiddle-slinging duo from the Hudson Valley who have been described as literate, political, organic, and inspired. Their love was forged in New York City amidst a swirl of rock, anti-folk, and Americana enthusiasm. They harmonized from the first night they met, bringing smiles to their friends' faces with original songs and layering raspy fiddle over pop-strummed guitar.
The folk tradition runs thick with Ruth Ungar Merenda. Her father Jay Ungar and stepmother Molly Mason have been playing music together since the late 1970s and are highly respected acoustic string musicians.
Their 2008 debut, the aptly titled “Honeymoon Agenda”, was well received by numerous regional press outlets for its striking collection of harmony-laden, indie-tinged Americana. The pair’s latest effort, “Waltz of the Chickadee”, mostly picks up where that disc left off.
Generally more laidback and less peppy than Mike and Ruth’s former band The Mammals, the music feels, as Ruth puts it, “more like sitting on the front porch having a beer than down at the barn dance.”
Now living in upstate New York with their 1-year-old son William Puck, Mike and Ruth have managed to find songwriting time between their household chores and parenting duties. Each of them wrote a song for Will on the new album, and the baby has provided renewed inspiration for their music. Ruth said parenthood has caused the couple to “look at the world through slightly more grownup eyes, but also through little kid eyes,” and that perspective has permeated their songwriting.
They’ll be supported by a full rhythm section of bass, drums and pedal steel guitar at this year’s Valley Stage.