Monday, July 16, 2012

Mike + Ruthy – The NYC EP

Humble Abode Music

“My New York City,” the lead track on Mike + Ruthy’s new and all-too-short six-song set, The NYC EP, is yet another great and previously-unheard song from the Woody Guthrie Archives. It’s a beautiful love song that celebrates New York City, and more particularly celebrates New York City as the place where Woody met his second wife, Marjorie (Greenblatt) Mazia, and where they lived and raised their young family. Listening to the lyrics, which are not currently listed at, I assume they probably date from the mid-to-late-1940s when the family was living in the Coney Island section of Brooklyn.

Interestingly, the songwriting credits list words and music by Woody Guthrie with additional music by Michael Merenda and Ruth Ungar. This suggests there was a known tune that Woody used for the song – as opposed to most of the previously unheard songs from the Archives that various artists have been setting to music over the past two decades. In any case, it’s a lovely song, perhaps the best track yet from Mike and Ruthy.

In fact, the EP is probably the best CD yet from Mike and Ruthy in their post-Mammals career as a duo. Another highlight is their version of Lil Green’s 1940 classic blues, “Romance in the Dark,” featuring a sexy vocal by Ruthy and her nimble playing on a resophonic uke while Mike backs her up on harmonica.

The other four songs are originals, three written by Mike, one by Ruthy. My favourite of these is Mike’s “On My Way Home,” a banjo-driven, old-time-meets-rock-‘n’-roll arrangement which uses home as a metaphorical place to return to after a difficult period in life.

Another favourite is Ruthy’s “Oh Mama,” a fun-blues seemingly inspired by their infant son’s not wanting to take a nap.

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--Mike Regenstreif

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