THE MAMMALS ARE BACK
“[With] a sense of intimacy borne out of years and years of making music together, The Mammals are back and stronger than ever… “ ~ Folk Alley
Mike + Ruthy, touring American folk act and founders of The Mammals are bringing back the band name that energized crowds in the 00’s and gave them their start. “We’ve always been Mammals at heart,” laughs Ruth Ungar, the band’s soulful singer and fiddler. “The music we’re making has the same old-time and Americana roots, and our lyrics have gotten more political again.” It’s true, The Mammals were known for their rabble-rousing musical statements which sometimes caused a stir with politically divided audiences from Louisiana to Michigan. “If you tell the whole truth you won’t please everyone,” smiles Mike Merenda. He’s the songwriter and guitar/banjo player who’s 2004 Mammals anthem “The Bush Boys” made the Dixie Chicks seem downright polite.
This time around their goals remain two-fold: raise positive social awareness & have a good party! In their recent tenure as “Mike + Ruthy” they began a home-town festival near Woodstock, NY called The Hoot which exemplifies these ideals. Pete Seeger, who performed at the inaugural Summer Hoot wrote “Dear Mike + Ruthy, your Hoot was one of the best song gatherings I’ve seen in all my 94 years.” Perhaps it was the multi-generational celebration, the hand-built wooden stage, or the re-usable pint cups – either way, these musicians take pride in the small details that make a big difference.
“Our lives are about building community and growing together everywhere we go,” says Ungar. In addition to organizing festivals, Mike + Ruthy have spent the past 9 years raising their two young children and recording and touring behind 5 albums that say “Wherever the good energy is, that’s where I wanna raise my kids,” “Some people wanna tell you that you shouldn’t even try / but I wanna tell you that’s a lie,” and “You’ve got to be as bright as you can.”
Back in 2001, The Mammals originated as a partnership between Ungar, Merenda and Tao Rodriguez-Seeger (Pete’s grandson) and later grew to include other players. The 2017 lineup includes some former Mammal members including Jacob Silver and Ken Maiuri when they are not touring with Lee Fields and the B-52’s respectively. “It’s a blessing to have a connection to the past and such great new players too,” says Mike. “The alchemy of fiddle, banjo, guitar, bass and drums is magic… and when keys, pedal steel, and horns are in the mix we leap to the next level.”
The Mammals has released a rowdy live-in-the-living-room video of the song “On My Way Home” and are digitally sharing a pair of topical tunes, “Culture War” and “Beautiful One” from their website http://themammals.love this Spring.
Milkweed is a band that was born on Main Street in the quiet post industrial city of Binghamton NY. It is the collaboration of three artists – Joseph Alston, Jacqualine Colombo and Peter Lister. Without committing to one genre Milkweed has pulled from many of the great aspects of American music and created their own brand of American song and story telling. Whether it is blue grass guitar flat picking, Chicago blues harmonica, Irish ballads or Jersey shore folk songs, Milkweed weaves together the sounds that make up the rich tapestry of American music history. With their lyrics they set themselves apart from the norm, taking the simple stories of everyday people and telling them through the lens of dreams and what it means to be a human. The root of the bands sound is in the use of three part harmony to impart a sense of importance and depth to their lyrics that brings the listener into their songs and feel invested in it.
Milkweeds debut full length album, Dream of An American Family, was released in November of 2015. It consists of thirteen original songs ranging from fingerpicking ballads, up tempo picking tunes, to a piedmont blues inspired song. It was recorded by Don Sternecker at the great Mixolydian Studios and was crafted to be like the great folk albums of the past, predominantly live and in front of great microphones. Songs from the album have received praise and radio play throughout the Northeast and East Coast and has gotten Milkweed onto larger theater and festival stages over the last year. Upon the arrival of a new tour van the band has been on the road prolifically, playing more then 160 shows a year. With the advent of a new album close at hand, longer tours booked nationally and collaborations with other musicians, Milkweed shows no sign of slowing down.