Ragbirds offer sounds from around the world
A unique tapestry of folk rock music sewn together with a patchwork of sounds from around the world, the Ragbirds’ vessel of music has taken influence from traditional African, Cuban/Caribbean, Irish/Celtic, eastern European, and the U.S.’s folk and bluegrass. Truly, the Ragbirds show us that the beauty of music sometimes can be patches from very different styles sewn together.
Every time you hear the Ragbirds you are happily transported to beautiful places around the world eventually arriving in your own backyard on a sunny afternoon. The people of Madison have a unique chance to take this world travel in one setting by seeing the Ragbirds at the High Noon Saloon on April 16 (tickets $10, 21 & over only.) Whiskey Farm will kick off the evening at 8:00.
Perhaps, the striking beauty of Erin Zindle’s voice is the first thing you notice when hearing the Ragbirds. Quickly you hear the depths of her abilities. Erin Zindle plays multiple instruments: violin, mandolin, banjo, accordion, melodica and djembe (large single hand drum.) By listening to Paul Simon, Rusted Root and Peter Gabriel early in life, she discovered and enjoyed the feeling that music can take you anywhere.
The Ragbirds are granted the ability to play diverse styles of music due to the talents of all five members. The rhythm section is strong with Brian Crist manning the bass, Loren Kranz on drums and Randall Moore, who is Erin Zindle’s husband, adding textured rhythms through a wide range of skills at auxillary percussion. Moore has a setup with congas, bongos, a djembe and tablas. T.J. Zindle, Erin Zindle’s brother, aids in adding a different color and a slightly more rock feel with his guitar. In addition, they frequently ask additional contributors to add to either the studio recordings or to live shows.
The Ragbirds are based out of Ann Arbor, Mich. A deep connection to the state of Michigan and the Midwest are obvious when listening to them talk about their home. Erin Zindle grew up in Buffalo, N. Y., learning both the piano and violin before moving to Ann Arbor in 1997. She played with a few groups before starting the Ragbirds in 2005.
Experiences playing the streets of Ann Arbor with a violin and future-husband Randall Moore on tambourine and tablas, and further encouragement from Moore, led them to the studio to record Erin’s first songs as the Ragbirds’ first album “Yes Nearby.” Subsequent releases “Wanderlove” (2007) and “Finally Almost Ready” (2009) helped build momentum through a committed tour schedule and positive word-of-mouth from fans. The Ragbirds have played some of the largest and most well-known music festivals including, 10,000 Lakes, Summer Camp and Electric Forest. They’ve also shared the stage with the likes of John Butler Trio, Cornmeal and Hot Buttered Rum.
The new album, “Travelin Machine,” provides their most tight and polished effort to date. They entered the studio with the intent of better capturing the energy of a live show on the album. Erin Zindle has a unique gift to phrase language into ideas that are easily understood. “Acrobats” identifies dealing with love and marriage as a kind of acrobatic feat with lyrics like “Love is a high place to climb…Love is a thin road to walk…It’s a compromise and a challenge that all lovers know…”
The heart of their sound is the beauty in Erin Zindle’s voice and her framing of words. The pulse of the Ragbirds relies on the strength of the five members’ abilities to fluently play the language of the diverse collection of instruments they employ. Diversity continues to be a common thread in the patchwork of the Ragbirds.
Make sure to read The Clarion’s exclusive Q&A session with Erin Zindle online at www.theonlineclarion.com to learn Erin’s thoughts on where the band takes influence from, what attracts new fans to their sound at a festival, the new album, how the name the Ragbirds came about and much more.
She even discusses what it’s like touring in a limited-emitted-carbon vehicle that runs on used vegetable oil.