The Ragbirds Continue To Soar: Hometown Show Saturday at the Ark

. October 14, 2014.
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That’s partly why this talented Ann Arbor outfit specializes in an eclectic fusion of worldmusic, with vigorous rhythms from the comparably zesty congas, djembes and bongos that enliven an electric/acoustic-blended  folk-rock aesthetic. 

But, truly, music means the world to this group, because it’s clear now, after seven years, more than 150 shows/year traveling and performing all over America, with five records released and the birth of baby between tours, that nothing’s going to slow them down! The world-beats go on! 

“Some people think we’re nuts,” admits lead singer, violinist Erin Zindle. “But, honestly, touring with a baby is such a joy.”

In the summer of ‘13, Zindle and husband Randall Moore (co-founding member of the Ragbirds, specializing in percussion) welcomed their first child, Aviva Alice Moore. “Aviva is so happy,” reports Zindle. “She loves music and she’s extremely social. There are lots of challenges, but we’re really enjoying it. You just have to be patient, flexible and committed to making it work.” That sums up their career, nicely. 

The Ragbirds, with T.J. Zindle on guitars, Dan Jones on bass and Jon Brown on drums, are the consummate post-Internet-era indie band: relentless, resilient and engaging, consistently pushing themselves and refusing to slow down. They even utilized a Kickstarter pledge drive, with the endearing help of their fans, to fund acquisitions of a better-accommodating tour van, (with added room for Aviva). They’re also eco-conscious, as this van will soon be converted to run on sustainable “veggie oil,” just like their previous transport. 

STREAM THE NEW LIVE ALBUM “WE BELONG TO THE LOVE:”

https://soundcloud.com/theragbirds/sets/we-belong-to-the-love/s-LWm5Q

“I’ve built my life around music, Zindle said. “There has never been a ‘plan B.’ My husband (Randall,) and brother (T.J.) have shared in this vision with me from the beginning and now my baby is along for the journey. When I’m writing songs, I feel like I am in the right place at the right time doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.”

And those songs continue to show up, from the sunray-swaying ballad “Believe It” to island rhythms of “Six Wheels” to the exhilarating gypsy-tinged “Book of Matches.” 

Zindle adds that she’s also received so much love and encouragement from the people who have been touched by the music she’s written over the years. “My family keeps growing,” she said. “It’s humbling and beautiful and I am truly grateful.” 

Scan their website and you’ll see that the band list their “Home” as both Ann Arbor and “…the Road.” That’s true, considering how much time they spend traveling from venue to venue, which can be a comparably precarious way to live, sometimes, particularly for modern music groups. “The kindness of strangers, friends and fans along the way has been life-saving,” said Zindle, speaking of the Ragbirds key motivations. 

“The stories people share with me, when I’ve needed it most, about (Ragbirds) songs touching their lives and lifting their spirits, helping them overcome illness, alcoholism, depression and fear, or helping them dance, helping lift their spirits from dark places. Those are the things that kept me going when it felt impossible.”

And they do keep spirits high, they do keep audiences dancing. “The songs come alive on stage when the energy of the crowd ignites the music. It’s the best feeling in the world.” Listen and see how worked up they get during “Tarantula,” with its fitful rhythms and scorching violin saws and it’s easy to imagine this music being “ignited.”

“The key to creating that spark in our live show is having a message that I’m passionate about,” Zindle said “a rhythm section that stirs up the dance floor, and space in the songs for the violin and guitar to improvise, which keeps songs fresh every night.”

Watch: Ragbirds live from Bells’

Since Aviva’s birth, The Ragbirds have kept their touring circle closer to the Midwest/rustbelt region. But now that they’ve been getting the hang of “touring with the baby” they plan to hit the road soon with more expansive destinations charted, while also heading back into the studio to start work on their sixth record. 

So far, they show no signs of slowing down. Fans can expect the live debut of new songs at their next show, this Saturday (info below):

The Ragbirds perform a hometown show Saturday night at The Ark, 316 S. Main Street, Ann Arbor. Grand Rapids-based folk rock group Bennett will open the show. Doors are at 7:30 PM; $20; all ages More info: http://www.theark.org/  http://www.theragbirds.com/