The Mammals

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The Mammals
The Mammals Woodstock.jpg
The Mammals play Woodstock
Background information
Genres Folk, folk rock, old-time, Americana, roots music
Instruments Banjo, fiddle, guitar, drums
Years active 2000–2008; 2017–present
Labels Signature Sounds
Associated acts Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion, Jay Ungar, Pete Seeger, The Duhks, Crooked Still, Mike + Ruthy
Website Official Website
Members Tao Rodriguez-Seeger
Michael Merenda
Ruth Ungar
Chris Merenda
Jacob Silver
Past members Alicia Jo Rabins
Pierce Woodward
Ken Maiuri
Dan Rose

The Mammals are a contemporary folk rock band based in the Hudson Valley, area of New York, in the United States.

The band members are Michael J. Merenda, Jr., Chris Merenda, Ruth Ungar, Jacob Silver and Tao Rodríguez-Seeger.

Band history[edit]

After jamming together in 2000, Merenda, Ungar and Rodríguez-Seeger formed the Mammals in 2001. They first performed as a quartet with Alicia Jo Rabins on the fiddle.[1] In 2002 and 2003 they became a trio, adding bassist Pierce Woodward, and drummer Ken Maiuri on some of their performances.[1] Chris Merenda, Mike's brother, joined the band in late 2003 replacing Maiuri on the drums. Woodward left the band in 2005 and was replaced with Dan Rose, who was replaced with Jacob Silver as the Mammals current bass player.

The Mammals often include guests in their live shows, such as Rosie Newton; Peter Siegel; Tao's sister, Penny Blossom Seeger; Jay Ungar and Molly Mason, and Pete Seeger. Aoife O'Donovan performs backing vocals on their CDs.

Mike Merenda is the band's main singer/songwriter and vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist, playing guitar, banjo, ukulele and percussion. His songs often address political and environmental concerns; topics such as government upheaval, war, the environment, and presidential catastrophe. Merenda's song The Bush Boys has caused The Mammals to be censored at some festival venues. His songs often tell stories drawing on personal events, such as the songs Haircut Money and 69 Pleasant Street.

Ruth Ungar performs on vocals, fiddle, and ukulele. She is a songwriter for the Mammals, and her songs center on themes of fair trade and the environment. Her song "Four Blue Walls", inspired by the play Danny and the Deep Blue Sea was featured on an album by Canadian band The Duhks.

Tao Rodríguez-Seeger sings and plays guitar, banjo, and harmonica. He sings in both Spanish and English; American folk songs such as Chan Chan by Compay Segundo and John Henry.

Chris Merenda is the Mammals drummer and the younger brother of Mike. In addition to percussion he plays the guitar, banjo, piano and sings vocals. He occasionally plays the ukulele. Chris has released two solo records titled The Regimen (2003), Hello Freedom (2005) and The Wheel (2009).

Jacob Silver plays electric and upright bass.

The Mammals went on an indefinite hiatus in 2008.[2] They began touring again in 2017.

Musical style[edit]

The Mammals play a style heavily influenced by traditional folk music and their own motto is "Trad is Rad". Their influences are folk, traditional and progressive bluegrass, old time music, Celtic and rock and roll.

Music is music. People think that The Mammals have pushed and broadened the boundaries of folk music. I think we've barely even started. There are no boundaries. There are conventions.[3]

Mike Merenda said

We've been called a band that takes old music and makes it sound new. On this album [Departure] we take new music and make it sound old. We play these instruments because they're the instruments we know how to play, but what's exciting is to take them out of the realm of expectation.[4]


The Mammals have performed nationally in the USA, and internationally in Canada, Australia and Denmark.

In 2007 the Mammals toured Australia, including performing at the National Folk Festival and Denmark including performances at Tønder Festival.

They tour the United States on their "Western Migration Tour", visiting cities on the West coast and in the Midwest and southern United States and during the summer months they play at many folk festivals, including Newport Folk Festival, Telluride, Philadelphia Folk Festival, and Magnolia Fest in Florida. When possible, The Mammals pair up with the Duhks to form Platypus.

They have been supporting acts for Nickel Creek (2006), Los Lobos (2006), and Arlo Guthrie for Alice's Restaurant 40th Anniversary Masacree Tour.

Side projects[edit]

Rodríguez-Seeger and Silver also perform together in The Anarchist Orchestra with Laura Cortese and Robin McMillan. Silver is also in the bands Wild Band of Snee and Throwing Stars. Rodríguez-Seeger recorded an album with Puerto Rican folk singer Roy Brown and Tito Auger, lead singer for Puerto Rican rock group Fiel A La Vega "Que Vaya Bien".[5]

Ungar and Mike Merenda married in October 2006 and perform together and with Jay Ungar and Molly Mason in the Jay Ungar and Molly Mason Family Band. They have been touring as Mike + Ruthy to support their duo recordings.[6]

Ungar performs in Sometymes Why and the Wayfaring Strangers.

Ungar, Mike and Chris Merenda have solo CDs. Chris Merenda also fronts an indie rock band called Chewy.


They have released four albums, two EPs, and are featured on the Wheatland Music Festival compilation, ...At This Stage. The most recent two albums have been released on Signature Sounds:

  • Born Live (2001)
  • Evolver (2002)
  • Migration (EP) (2004)
  • Rock That Babe (2004)
  • ...At This Stage (various artists) (2004)
  • Departure (2006)
  • Bootleg Six-Pack (EP) (2007)


  1. ^ a b Himes, Geoffrey "Old School" Archived 2007-09-30 at the Wayback Machine. Baltimore City Paper 26 November 2004] (Retrieved 4 September 2007)
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ [2]. Retrieved 4 September 2007
  4. ^ Himes, Geoffery, The New York Times "A New Wave of Musicians Updates That Old-Time Sound" 5 November 2006. Retrieved 14 April 2007.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-03-30. Retrieved 2008-03-30. "Que Vaya Bien"
  6. ^ Michael J. Merenda, Jr.#Mike and Ruthy

External links[edit]