The Mammals

The Mammals

  • Contemporary
  • Folk
  • Pop/Rock

The Mammals

  • Fiddle
  • Indie
  • Rock
  • Roots

Indie-roots trailblazers, The Mammals, are a high-octane Americana quintet from New York’s storied Hudson Valley carrying on the work of Pete Seeger & Woody Guthrie with a deep original repertoire, searing American roots sound, and a message of hope for humanity.

Known for their jubilant, high-energy shows, The Mammals deftly move from older-than-dirt banjo duets to sound-the-alarm topical fare that’s right in line with the times, bouncing from rafter raising hoe-downs to hear-a-pin-drop a cappella balladry.

Founded in 2001 by Seeger’s grandson, Tao, second generation fiddler/singer, Ruth Ungar, and multi-instrumental wordsmith, Mike Merenda, the original trio enjoyed a remarkable 7 year run that brought them to the largest folk festivals across North America, Australia and Denmark, Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium (with stringband peers Nickel Creek), New York’s Carnegie Hall as the special guest of folk legend Arlo Guthrie, and to the pages of numerous publications lauding their unique “traditional-music-in-combat-boots-sound” including a feature in The New York Times handpicking them as a leader in a pack of new-wave stringbands “updating that old-time sound.”

After a considerable break from the project during which time Merenda and Ungar married and started a family, a bi-annual folk festival, and a musical duo aptly called, Mike + Ruthy, and Seeger pursuing a solo career before retiring from music all together to start a family of his own, The Mammals returned fronted by Merenda and Ungar in 2017 “stronger than ever” (Folk Alley) with a pair of politically charged singles, “Culture War” and “My Baby Drinks Water,” and the announcement of a new album in 2018.

The new album, Sunshiner, bottles The Mammals’ on-stage effervescence and lyrical intellect along with some very beautiful studio magic. Sunshiner bursts open with the soaring, up-tempo idealism of Merenda’s “Make It True,” with echoes of The Byrds, and then takes a more modern, Feist-inspired, turn with Ungar’s soulful plea,“Open The Door.”

Over a decade ago, the Washington Post described The Mammals as, “gleefully aware that the sound barriers separating old-timey music, vintage pop and contemporary folk are as permeable as cotton.” This new record has that same tag-you’re-it playfulness with genre on full display, even evoking Laura Nyro on the intimate, spine-tingling piano trance “Stayin’ Up Late.”

“It’s basically ‘think, dance, feel’” says Ungar of the repertoire on Sunshiner. Songs like “Culture War,” “Beautiful One,” “My Baby Drinks Water,” and the title track directly explore the troubling rifts between people and planet. Then it’s time to whoop up a ruckus on “Doctor’s Orders” and “Fork In The Road,” with fiddle, banjo, guitar, bass and drums as if to stomp the last shreds of worry into oblivion. And it’s no secret that some of their songs, particularly Ungar’s earthy blues and jazz-tinged numbers like “Maple Leaf” and “When My Story Ends” will make a grown mammal cry. And that’s ok too. It’s all part of working our way through this tricky chapter of human history.

Whatever political twists and turns may occur this year, 2018 promises to be an adventurous time for The Mammals. In February they strike out on a Western Migration Tour across the USA from their home in Woodstock, NY and down the entire West Coast from Bellingham to San Diego. In the Spring they embark on a SunshinerCD Release Tour thru New England and the Midwest before playing some of their favorite Summer festivals in WA, WY, VT, MA and NY including their own Summer Hoot, now in it’s sixth year.

The Mammals treasure the timeless traditions of song, story-telling and dance. Their work is to continue a musical odyssey so that the same handmade music passed down to them makes it thru to future generations one song, one concert at a time.

Vivian Leva & Riley Calcagno

  • Americana
  • Traditional

Vivian Leva and Riley Calcagno are tapping into the deepest parts of American music, taking old songs that have seldom been heard and presenting them next to their own timeless and visceral originals. When they are not performing as duo, they’re often found sitting knee to knee, playing under the canopy of trees at fiddle festivals across the country, such as the gathering where they met in June of 2016. Across any campground, or concert venue, the echos of their vibrant and magnetic harmonies ring out.

Leva, of Lexington, Virginia grew up playing and performing with her parents, Carol Elizabeth Jones and James Leva, learning traditional songs from their sources and honing her rhythmic guitar style. This past June, Vivian recorded her debut album Time is Everything in close collaboration with Calcagno during an inspired session at Studio 808A in the small town of Floyd, VA. She will be releasing this album of original music on March 2nd, 2018 on Free Dirt Records.

Riley, of Seattle, WA spent his earlier years playing with the widely recognized band The Onlies, described as “masterful” and “deliciously well-crafted” (Kithfolk) and developing his own distinct authenticity on the fiddle and banjo.

Together, Vivian and Riley have toured across the country, in living rooms and concert halls. As individuals, they have shared the stages with and played, both nationally and internationally, in the bands of Elvis Costello, Rhiannon Giddens, The Lost Tribe Of Country Music, and Bruce Molsky to name just a few. To this collaboration they bring both the steady hands of experience and a refined taste for American music, yet still a youthful abandon that can’t be forced. In 2018, they will be on tour internationally to support Vivian’s new release and bring their distinct brand of old-time and country to a festival, hall, bar, or fireplace gathering near you.

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