When Michael Merenda '98 gets married tomorrow, the Bowdoin late '90s musical scene will be there in full force.

José Ayerve '96, frontman of Bowdoin-born indie-rock band Spouse, is one of Merenda's groomsmen and will sing his original "Siempre Capaz" as the first song for Merenda and bride Ruth Ungar. Other alumni in attendance will be Dan Pollard '98, another Spouse member, Kent Lanigan '98, and Carter Little '98, a music producer in Nashville.

Merenda will be surrounded by even more Bowdoin students when he returns to campus Thursday, November 2, for a concert with Ungar at MacMillan House. A former member of Spouse and traditional music group The Mammals, Merenda will perform to publicize his new album, "Quiver."

Merenda describes his new songs as having a "sparse acoustic sound with beautiful harmonies" and more focus on Merenda's songwriting.

"It's a return to my roots," Merenda said. "I couldn't have made the record without touring, but I'm interested in writing new songs rather than rehashing the past."

Merenda credits The Mammals with developing his musical abilities and introducing him to the life of an artist. Still, touring the world can take its toll.

"The Mammals are well loved, and people aren't used to bands straying from the formula. But, we had enough momentum that we could take a break," Merenda said. "With being on the circuit, my musical chops have enhanced and I have an arsenal under my belt, but I really wanted to focus on songwriting."

The group decided to take September to February completely off from touring, and Merenda saw the perfect opportunity to write songs and hit the road with Ungar as an acoustic duo.

While The Mammals are classified as traditional with an evolving country-rock sound, Merenda's new acoustic sound and breathy voice are closer to groups like Iron and Wine. The duo of Merenda and Ungar has also been compared to the more famous duo of Simon and Garfunkel.

"I've learned how to relate to different audiences, and now I meet myself halfway in writing music that's challenging and touchy and making people feel safe. When I voiced ideas not in the mainstream, I used to approach an audience with more shock and was the black sheep intentionally," Merenda said.

"But folk is about folks and inclusion," he continued. "The folk music background is so welcoming, creating a storybook atmosphere and family values. Now, I don't feel like I'm compromising my artistic integrity and I'm not alienating people. I'm smarter about approaching the audience."

Merenda's acoustic tour is a family affair. Not only does he sing with his wife, but his brother and members of Ungar's family also contribute to his music.

"People tell us that they can see the effortless bond of our relationship communicated through music," Merenda said of playing with Ungar. "Touring presents challenges since you're always on the road and you don't see family, but we have the exact opposite problem. Ruthie and I have a day apart only once or twice a year, and that presents its own challenges."

Merenda and Ungar met before The Mammals formed, and they played together in the band for six years. Since Ungar grew up listening to traditional music, Merenda credits her with exposing him to the "trad is rad" world of The Mammals. The couple now lives in New York in the house where Ungar grew up.

As far as returning to Bowdoin, it will be the second time in four years that Merenda has performed on campus. The Mammals opened for Dilated Peoples during Ivies Weekend in 2004. This time around, Merenda sees his performance a little differently.

"The Mammals toured the world, and leaving all that behind I have to wonder, 'Why am I leaving that?'" said Merenda. "I missed my original vision, and Bowdoin was a big part of it. I grew so much as a person there and figured out I wanted to be an artist."