Teresa Williams grew up picking and hoeing cotton on her family’s 7th generation West Tennessee farm surrounded by the music of the Delta, Muscle Shoals, Nashville and Kentucky. As a child, she sang at revivals and “singings with dinner on the ground.” Larry Campbell, 3 time Grammy winning producer, winner of the Americana Association Lifetime Achievement Award for Multi-Instrumentalist and native of Manhattan, spent many years as an A team studio musician in New York’s roots, rock and country scene, recording and touring with some of the biggest names in Americana music. When Teresa made the leap to NYC, she inevitably intersected musically with Campbell. They spent years traveling apart, working on various projects, notably Larry’s eight year stint in Bob Dylan’s band, and Teresa’s creation of the role of Sara Carter, lead singer of The Original Carter Family, for the musical Keep on the Sunny Side. Recent years have put the two together again touring with the Levon Helm Band, Phil Lesh and Friends, Hot Tuna, and joining Little Feat at their Feat Fan Excursions. They appear on Hot Tuna’s "Steady as She Goes", Jorma Kaukonen’s, "River of Time", and Helm’s MerleFest Ramble, and the Grammy Award winning "Dirt Farmer", "Electric Dirt" and "Ramble at The Ryman". After recently suffering the death of their friend, Levon Helm, (for whom Larry served as partner, co-writer, producer and band leader), and in the spirit of Levon’s dictate to “Keep It Goin,” they can still be seen side by side Saturday nights at the late Helm’s Midnight Rambles in Woodstock, NY.
As a duo Mike + Ruthy have refined their sound down to the very core of acoustic American music, demonstrating an uncommon ability to create songs as lyrically sophisticated as Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen and as harmonically beautiful as Gillian Welch & David Rawlings or Simon & Garfunkel. With their arsenal of fiddle, banjo, guitar, ukulele and their hallmark harmony singing, a Mike + Ruthy concert is overstuffed with soulful songs and stories and a timeless sound that is spellbinding and pure.
Over a decade of touring has taken them worldwide where they've performed well over a thousand concerts in listening rooms, living rooms and festivals as well as performances at NYC's Carnegie Hall accompanying Arlo Guthrie in 2005 (with their former band The Mammals) and Madison Square Garden as part of Pete Seeger's 90th birthday celebration in 2009.
2012 will see Mike + Ruthy's 4th release entitled The NYC EP featuring the premiere recording of "My New York City" a beautifully revived Woody Guthrie lyric from the Woody Guthrie Archives. The song will also be included on "My Name is New York," a 4-CD compilation being issued by Woody Guthrie Publications including new recordings by Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, and Bob Dylan and more.
Mike + Ruthy - "My New York City" on YouTube.
“Extraordinary . . . some of the most exquisitely expressive vocals you will hear in the roots music field." - AmericanaRootsUK.com
"Mike + Ruthy are carrying the torch for simple, heartfelt acoustic music, the rustic kind without and smoothing out
of the edges with a direct line back to the Carter Family via Woody Guthrie, Hank Williams, Bob Dylan and even the Byrds."
- Maverick Magazine
"Thoughtful lyrics and beautiful harmonies that capture the essence of American music . . . this summer's must hear acoustic album."
- Performer Magazine
"Quite a few folks have done this 'set-Woody's-lyrics-to-music thing' over the past couple decades. I'm not sure anyone's ever done it better than this." - Peter Blackstock (co-founder of No Depression)
“Mike + Ruthy have become a force to be reckoned with in the acoustic music world, and [The NYC EP] proves their mettle . . . Bold banjos rule, fiery fiddles run wild, and an expansive sound that threatens to raise the rafters prevails.” – The Daily Freeman”
"I'm obsessed with 'My New York City.' Mike + Ruthy are a national treasure." - Anais Mitchell
“There's perhaps no better way to summarize the lasting impact of Woody Guthrie's music than to note the quality of the very newest music being made with his words. Husband-wife Mike + Ruthy Merenda got the lyrics to "My New York City" from the Guthrie archives and set it to one of the most gorgeous melodies ever to accompany one of Woody's songs. It came out in April 2012: Brand new right now, it's destined to become a classic.” - eMusic’s 20 Best Woody Guthrie Songs (Sung By Other People)
"The first couple of folk rock" - RadioFreeAmericana
"Mike + Ruthy channel Woody Guthrie." - Journal & Courier
"Everything else starts from music like this." - AmieStreet.com
"Seemingly descended not just from one famous folkie, but the entire folk tradition itself". - Willamette Week
"Infectious new folk rock" - Boston Globe
"Mike + Ruthy offer breathy, rich Americana . . . warm, vintage sounds." - Time Out New York.
"Mike + Ruthy's music bears the mark of veteran brilliance." - Chronogram
“Some of the best songwriting of their generation" - Michael Simmons, LA Weekly