The Mike + Ruthy Band brings the “Hoot Highway” to Asheville, featuring guest artist Amythyst Kiah and square dancing

Arts & Entertainment
Isis Music Hall
743 Haywood Rd, Asheville, NC
Alecia Eberhardt-Smith
Oct 12, 2016
8:00 PM

This fall, for the first time, rural rockers The Mike + Ruthy Band are taking The Hoot—a bi-annual, down-home folk, Americana, and roots music festival in the Catskills—on the road, and they’re coming to Asheville’s Isis Music Hall on October 12, 2016 at 8:30pm. Collaboration will be in the air as Mike + Ruthy play host to an evening of songs, stories, and tunes featuring special guest artist Amythyst Kiah, an alt-country blues singer/songwriter based out of Johnson City, TN. The evening will close with everyone on the dance floor for a beginner-friendly square dance to live music.

Anchored by Mike Merenda, a songwriting guitar-slinger with a knack for clawhammer banjo, and Ruthy Ungar, a fiddler and uke chanteuse who grew up in the American roots underground as the daughter of Grammy Award-winning fiddler Jay Ungar, The Mike + Ruthy Band enjoyed a high water mark year in 2016, buoyed by critical acclaim for their 2015 release Bright As You Can and a commitment to touring with a rocking five-piece ensemble. They’ve shared with stage with industry luminaries as diverse as The Avett Brothers, Milk Carton Kids, Elephant Revival, Ani DiFranco, and The B-52s, reintroducing the high-energy folk rock sound that they helped define in their trailblazing early-2000s band The Mammals. This summer, The Mike + Ruthy Band had the honor of performing at 15 major music festivals across the US and and Europe, including the hometown festival they founded: The Hoot.

The Hoot is a rowdy but wholesome way to finish off the summer, featuring an esteemed lineup that has included Pete Seeger, Natalie Merchant, Amy Helm, Loudon Wainwright III, and dozens of up-and-coming Americana and roots music performers. In 2013, Pete Seeger called The Hoot “one of the best song gatherings in all of [his] 94 years.” What makes the festival truly special is the way it fosters collaboration, and Mike and Ruthy look forward to continuing that legacy as they take the festival on the road. “The best thing about a festival is when bands get to sit in with each other and intersect in new and spontaneous ways,” Ruthy says. “We're really looking forward to collaborating with some of our favorite bands from the Southeast on this debut Hoot Highway tour.”

Tickets are $15 and can be purchased through the Isis Music Hall website ( or at the box office. Limited tables are available with dinner reservations; call 828-575-2737 to reserve a table. For questions or press inquiries, contact Alecia Eberhardt-Smith at