The Mammals admit it right up front: the goal is to make you cry. Tears of enlightenment, tears of awakening, tears of just about any feeling you have festering inside you. That’s what the band is after. That’s the goal of their performance.
The five-piece folk/rock is a band out of Woodstock, NY, led by Ruth Ungar’s phenomenal voice and Mike Merenda banjo-picking. That combination can’t help but raise you up, bring a sullen week to a halt as you’re ushered into the jubilee fit with drums, fiddle, harmony, bass and organ.
And you can experience this revival of sorts this Friday night at the Currier Art Museum Side Door Series. The show starts at 6 p.m. with the opener Frank Song Jr. at 7:15 p.m. and the Mammals going on from 8-9:30 p.m.
GSM decided to reach out to Merenda and talk about the upcoming show, the broadening of one’s vision and how he goes about exchanging energy with others.
⇒You can get your tickets for the March 15 Side Door Music Series here.
Q. How do you separate yourselves from the legions of folk/rock bands out there these days?
A. I think by having one foot squarely in traditional music and one in new, original music we’re able to define our own unique space. I’m also very proud of our original song catalog; I think that sets us apart to some degree.
Q. Is there a part of the country that the Mammals gravitate to more than others?
There are hot spots, I suppose. The coasts have always been good to us, particularly the Northeast and California. We have some diehard fans down in Florida. Michigan, has always been a Mammals hotbed. We’re also starting to get a good buzz going in Scotland and the UK, thanks to a couple trips over to the Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow.
Q. Do you enjoy the recording process more so than live performances? Two different mindsets, I imagine.
Very different, indeed. Recording is special in that it’s an opportunity to move your work forward and broaden your catalog, and with that your vision, in a permanent, documented way. Live performances are something I’ve grown to depend on for my own inspiration and validation. It also keeps me connected to the culture in a first-hand way, by traveling and meeting people – seeing different cities and regions. If I go too long without performing I feel very out of balance. The exchange of energy between audience and performer in a live concert setting has become like a type of oxygen to me.
Q. What makes the Mammals undeniably recognizable?
I think the harmony blend of our two voices is at the heart of our sound.
Q. What can a Manchester audience expect from the Mammals when they come to see you?
Our hope is that audiences leave inspired. In our shows we try to strike a balance between fun, energetic music and thoughtful, more contemplative numbers. Ruthy calls this approach “Think, Dance, Feel,” and by incorporating all three elements into a performance we’re able to take folks on a deep, often unexpected journey. Again, as Ruthy says, “Making audiences cry is the family business!”
Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the door. Students, $15. Dinner buffet, $15 not including tax. RSVP for dinner online at checkout. Cash bar available.