Excellent singer/songwriter and
contemporary folk music in Monmouth County,
at UUCMC, 1475 W. Front St., Lincroft, NJ
Saturday 3/7/2020 7:30 PM.
Mike + Ruthy (of the Mammals)
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, these 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, whose 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.
Saturday 3/28/2020 7:30 PM.
Matt Nakoa, with Sophie Buskin opening
Matt Nakoa is an award-winning songwriter, singer, and multi-instrumentalist. A modern troubadour, he makes his home on the highways and concert stages of America, and appears regularly with folk music icon Tom Rush. The Boston Globe says of Nakoa, “Between his piano chops and heartfelt originals on guitar, he drops jaws.”
Nakoa trained to be a concert pianist before accepting a scholarship to attend Berklee College of Music as a vocalist. He developed his dramatic songwriting style with his college alt-rock band, The Fens, and after the band dissolved, he landed in NYC. It was in Manhattanʼs all-night piano bars that Nakoa developed an uncanny ability to command the attention of any audience. His first solo albums, released in 2012 and 2014, garnered multiple songwriting awards, including a win at Kerrville Folk Festivalʼs New Folk Competition.
Nakoaʼs newest album, Casting Shadows, is a spellbinding blend of pop, soul, and classical influences that tells a story of childhood dreams crashing headlong into grownup reality.
Raised in the heart of New York City by two accomplished musical parents, singer-songwriter Sophie started studying piano at age three and first set foot in the studio at four. She caught the harmony bug and began working extensively as a child jingle singer, featured on many TV/radio spots from GE and Hess Trucks to Six Flags and the Kidz Bop CD series.
Completely at home in the studio, Sophie was initially shy about performing onstage. While continuing lessons in guitar and voice, she poured herself into another lifelong passion, earning a specialized degree in visual art from New York City’s LaGuardia High School. In 2008 Sophie was accepted into the Berklee College of Music in Boston and fully embraced her musical side. She wrote her first song in 2009 and began steadily writing and performing, often alongside her father, David Buskin.
A decade later, Sophie is based in Brooklyn and has more than outgrown her initial stage fright, appearing at venues such as Rockwood Music Hall, the Cutting Room, Passim, the Red Lion, and White Eagle Hall. She has performed with Judy Collins, Mason Jennings, Little Anthony, Livingston Taylor and Paul Schaffer and founded the songwriters’ circle at Pete’s Candy Store in Brooklyn. Her first solo CD, “Sweet Creature”, is a testament to her ongoing journey of artistic self-discovery.