Editor’s note: Register for the Blue Ridge Music Center’s FREE virtual A Place in the Band conference held Friday, February 26, 2021 here.
BGS has been proud to partner with the Blue Ridge Music Center on their online series, A Place in the Band: Women in Bluegrass & American Roots Music. The 10-part series explores the triumphs and struggles of prominent women with careers in the music industry.
Musicians Kristin Scott Benson and Ruth Ungar as well as audio engineer Haley Miller Coots are featured in this week’s final episodes, which are available with the full series on the Blue Ridge Music Center’s YouTube channel, at their website, BlueRidgeMusicCenter.org, and here on BGS. All three of these women come from families with deep roots and historical connections to traditional and folk music.
In this edition of A Place in the Band we feature Ruth Ungar, who was raised in a folk music family and learned fiddle at an early age. Her father, fiddler and composer Jay Ungar, wrote “Ashokan Farewell” and her mom, Lyn Hardy, is a singer, songwriter, and guitarist. Along with her husband Michael Merenda, Ruth has recorded and performed original American music for over two decades, both with the band The Mammals and as the duo Mike & Ruthy. She has also performed and recorded with Sometymes Why, an American Folk Noir band that includes Kristin Andreassen and Aoife O’Donovan. Ruth and Mike and their two children make their home in the Hudson River Valley where they host their own thriving community folk festival, The Hoot. The Hoot is held bi-annually at The Ashokan Center, an outdoor education, conference and retreat center in the Catskill Mountains of Upstate New York, where Ruth is the Director of Arts and Education.
“We are grateful to all the women musicians and industry professionals who agreed to take part in the Women in Bluegrass & American Music interview series,” Blue Ridge Music Center director Richard Emmett says via email. “We hope you’ll take some time to give a look and listen to some of these women and their stories… We’re sure you’ll be entertained and we hope you’ll take away some new insights and perspectives.”
The Blue Ridge Music Center would like to thank their sponsors, supporters, and media partners: The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts, The National Parks Foundation, and BGS.
Video credit: Joe Dejarnette, Studio 808A
Graphic credit: Jacob LeBlanc, Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation