STORY WRITTEN BY ROB NAGY
For Digital First Media
The Ragbirds, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, are a band to watch in the burgeoning Indie folk-rock fusion scene. Featuring Erin Zindle (vocals, violin, mandolin, banjo, accordion, percussion), T.J. Zindle (guitar, vocals), Randall “The Hitman” Moore (percussion), Jon Brown (drums and vocals) and Dan Jones (electric bass guitar and percussion), the quintet has spent a decade tirelessly dedicated to the art of music making.
The group employs complex combinations of Gypsy, Middle-Eastern, Americana, rock and Latin influences, along with a Celtic flair, in their latest LP release, “The Threshold & The Hearth.”
“This is the first album that we’ve put out that actually has a thread that’s woven throughout as far as a story line of a young couple — at least they start off young in the beginning of the album — and through the 13 tracks on the record,” says Erin Zindle, from her home in Ann Arbor, Michigan. “It spans 20 years of their relationship together. So, it’s an album with many different scenes; all of which are things that have affected this couple’s relationship as well as anyone who’s struggled to make love last in the long run. So, there are a lot of different topics touched on throughout the album, but it kind of circles around this couple’s relationship. They are a fictitious couple that I’ve named Betty and Bill who meet in college, get married, raise a family and weather the trials of a long-term relationship. Much of the material was written in the wake of the birth of our three-year old daughter Aviva, who tours with us. I feel like this is the best thing we’ve put out.”
“Before we wrote this album, we had spent so many years touring really hard and really far,” adds Zindle. “We played 48 states plus Japan. We’ve been on the road on nearly 200 dates some years. My husband (who is the percussionist in the band) and I had a baby 3 years ago. That was part of the reason for us touring lightly over the last couple of years. The point is, we’ve been discovering more of what home is. So, the whole album follows that theme too as well as how two people can make a home that can be defined in so many ways.”
Founded in Ypsilanti, Michigan, The Ragbirds released their debut album, “Yes Nearby,” in 2005. After Hurricane Katrina struck the South in 2005, the Ragbirds released one of their most important songs, “Washed Away.” A portion of the proceeds from that release was donated directly to the Red Cross.
In 2007, upon releasing “Wanderlove,” their number one selling album on Homegrown Music Network, The Ragbirds embarked on a two year touring schedule that found them performing throughout the U.S. and the world.
With a goal of expanding their reach, the Ragbirds signed with Japan’s Buffalo Records in 2009, resulting in the distribution of “Wanderlove” throughout that nation. Subsequent album releases, “Finally Almost Ready” (2009), “Travelin’ Machine” (2012) and the live album “We Belong to the Love” (2013), fueled the band’s energy and widened their global reach.
“Touring, considering the type of band that we are, definitely has been key to the success that we have had,” says Zindle. “Just getting out there as much as we can. For us, it’s all about connection. The music that we make is exciting because we get to watch people experience it and it really touches people’s lives. We get to connect with them in a way that we couldn’t otherwise if we were just recording stuff in a studio and sending it out there. The fact that we get to meet people face to face and they get to tell us their stories and we get to engage with them means we feel like we have this ever-expanding family that we’re building.”
“There’s a message in our music,” adds Zindle. “I think overall it’s me as the songwriter struggling to find hope through all of these circumstances. I’m a self-improvement junkie (laughs). I’m always trying to find ways to look at the world, even the darker parts, that help me to have some kind of hope, to constantly strive for better things. So, I think that there’s a part of my personality that comes across in our lyrics and our message overall. Musically, there’s a real fun energy in our work. We call it folk rock with world music influences, high energy folk rock.”
“We love what we do. We love playing. We love sharing our songs. We love improvising. We get charged with the energy that we get from each other on stage and from the audience and what they bring. It’s kind of like a dance party and a folk show at the same time. We’re enjoying the ride and the connection, which is the biggest thing we get to make with our fans. It’s still growing. It’s still inspiring to me and to others around us. I’m very pleased.”
The Ragbirds will perform at the Sellersville Theater, located at 24 West Temple Ave., Sellersville, PA, Wednesday January 18, 2017 at 7:30 P.M.
The Ragbirds will perform at World Café Live, located at 500 N. Market St. Wilmington, DE, 19801, Friday January 20, 2017 at 8:00 P.M.
To stay up to date with The Ragbirds, visit www.theragbirds.com.