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Album Review

The veritable supergroup of folk offspring the Mammals' debut release, Evolver, showcases the trio's desire to push traditional folk music into the next century. Tao Rodriguez-Seeger (grandson of Pete Seeger) and Ruth Ungar (daughter of Grammy-award-winning fiddler Jay Ungar) team up with singer/songwriter Michael Merenda and with the help of a handful of friends and studio musicians create a warmly inviting collection of original tunes and updated traditionals. Highlights include a subdued version of Richard Thompson's "1952 Vincent Black Lightning" and the handful of Merenda-penned songs, all of which have an almost Guthrie-esque (if another folk legend can fit on this disc) honesty and humor to them. The band's only misstep comes when they try to push rock-style drumming too far into a couple of songs, almost rebelliously proving that they are not tied to the traditional structure of folk music. Small quibbles aside, the album stands as a fine document of these musicians' accomplishments in the studio and points to fine futures for all involved.


Formed: February, 2001 in Hudson Valley, NY

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '00s

The pop-folk trio the Mammals came together in early 2001 after fiddler Ruth Ungar and guitarist Michael Merenda met in a local bar in New York City. Ungar, who's the daughter of famed fiddler Jay Ungar and folksinger Lyn Hardy, briefly flirted with a career in acting. While she and Merenda balanced day jobs, Nicaraguan-born banjo player Tao Rodriguez-Seeger joined the Mammals. Between Ungar's folk roots and Rodriguez-Seeger being the grandson of folk legend Pete Seeger, it was natural for the Mammals...
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Evolver, The Mammals
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