Ebird & Friends 11th Annual Holiday Show

Before we get into the article, let’s check out a trailer of what awaits you at The Ark, next week…

So last year, we spoke with Ann Arbor singer/songwriter Erin Zindle about marking the 10th anniversary of her EBird & Friends Holiday Show. Each year, the leader of the folk-pop/world-fusion/fiddle-fired-dance-rock ensemble The Ragbirds invites lots of her highly talented friends from around the Michigan music community to The Ark for multiple nights of good cheer.

EBird & Friends Holiday Shows at The Ark
Thursday, Dec 6
Friday, Dec 7
Saturday, Dec 8
(music starts at 8pm)

Zindle and The Ragbirds show no signs of slowing down or scaling back this year – it’s going to be bigger than ever, with performances by Joshua Davis, Joe Hertler (Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers), Luke Winslow-King, Madelyn Grant, Jen Sygit, Adam Plomaritas, the newly formed Zindles, Ross Huff, Brandon Smith (The Appleseed Collective), Tim Haldeman, Yorg Kerasiotis (Flash Clash), Brad Phillips, Brennan Duncan Andes, Jess McCumons (The Understorey), Loren Kranz (The Barbarossa Brothers), Asim Khan (Jive Colossus), Jennifer Jones, Shelly Smith, and more!!

This family-friendly concert provides a spectacular marathon of creative twists on holiday tunes from many traditions with a wide range of genres and instruments from all over the world. Also, since several of these musical artists spend much of their calendar year on tour, this feels like a reunion of sorts, a homecoming, with The Ark serving as a song-filled Living Room.

“I love this show,” said Ark Executive Director Marianne James. “It’s a full out feast of music, community and good cheer that we look forward to hearing at The Ark all year long.” James makes it a point to attend every year…, but the charms of the EBird show transcend even for those who find it harder to get into the spirit. It is, at the end of the evening, more so about community, celebrating traditions and togetherness.

Artists like TJ Zindle, Jess McCumons and Ross Huff (of the Macpodz) will be interpreting beloved holiday tunes and classic carols, as well as some original seasonally-themed compositions.

“I believe I’ve played on all of them except the very first one,” recalls TJ Zindle. “One of my favorite memories was last year, when the whole cast sang “Hallelujah…” I found myself weeping throughout most of it. That and when I got the chance to play and sing “Father Christmas” by the Kinks: It’s a great reminder about those who feel lost and forgotten during the holidays.”

Zindle is a member of the Ragbirds but also records/releases/performs music as a solo artist. He continued recalling some treasured EBird Holiday Show experiences, like when “…Yorg Kerasiotis sang “Run Run Rudolph” a few years back. He’s such a dynamic performer it was a blast. Oh!! And when we did “Carol of the Bells…” …because I got to shred a little… And….I could go on and on! There are so many great moments every year!”

Zindle, TJ that is, went on to compliment Erin Zindle, the “E” of “Ebird…” saying: “Erin works incredibly hard every year to find the right types of songs. We always end up with a varied collection of emotions and songs for all types of people. Plus there are some great songwriters on the cast every year and that usually tuns into some great original music and arrangements.”

Ross Huff meticulously arranges the horn parts that accompany the performances at the Ebird festivities, and he echoed TJ’s sentiments: “(Erin Zindle) does an amazing job of finding an array of artists to feature and using the music to touch everything from the festivity, happiness, and sentimentality/nostalgia, to cheesiness or kitsch, sadness, heartbreak, and outright throw-your-hands-in-the-air frustration that everyone can feel at different times throughout the season. I think those relatable feelings set (the event) apart. We don’t make bones about the fact that the holiday season can drive everybody crazy sometimes, and that there’s nothing unfashionable about spending time with the ones you love.”

And while we all know we’re in for a long, cold Michigan winter–the EBird Holiday Shows are always, by design, full of warm/cozy/rejuvenating vibes to counteract any potentially sprouting winter woe.

All performances will be at The Ark in Ann Arbor (316 S. Main St.). Thursday, December 6 at 8pm, Friday, December 7 at 8pm, Saturday, December 8 at 3pm, and Saturday, December 8 at 8pm. The Saturday, December 8 matinee offers a discount for kids! All shows are all ages.


Tickets for The Ark shows ($25 – $50 for general admission, reserved, and gold circle) are on sale now at The Ark’s box office, the Michigan Union ticket office and online at www.theark.org. More information including the full show lineup and a video trailer from a previous year’s show is available at www.theragbirds.com/holidayshow.


Jessica McCumons is one of the co-founding members/songwriters of The Understorey, and this will be her seventh year being part of the Ebird & Friends Holiday Show. She confirms that a standout charm about the evening is the variety of the lineups and the heartfelt vibes that exude throughout the performances.
“It’s magic,” said McCumons. “Between the talented musicians, great crew and support team, the Ark being such a beautiful venue, and the excitement of truly getting to create something new and special, it can be a real out-of-body experience.” The Understorey have been featured at previous Ark performances, a stalwart ensemble that features her husband Matt, blending folk, rock, gospel, blues, and jazz. And McCumons knows to anticipate otherwise unexpected moments of profundity… as she recalls…
“…I’ll never forget how while I was waiting in the wings to walk onstage and sing “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” last year, that I learned it was the anniversary of when John Lennon was shot on December 8, 1980.  That really shook me,” McCumons said, “and it took an already emotional and special experience to another level.  I’ll never forget feeling so moved and connected with the music as on that night.  As a musician, it’s a true joy to be able to be lost in your art and it doesn’t happen as much as we would like, but it happened that night and every year for me as part of this show.”
Barb Chaffer Authier is the marketing director for The Ark and considers the Ark to be the perfect home for this event. It didn’t begin at The Ark and only moved to this spot on Main St halfway through its 11-year run, but the Ark can provide an intimate space to augment the magical/sentimental vibes of each evening’s performance. “…but we are also a community organization and when people think about roots music in Southeast Michigan, they think of The Ark….”
The Ark is known for showcasing the highest caliber of folk, roots and acoustic music, “…and,” said Chaffer Authier, “that’s what Erin Zindle manages to create and coordinate with the EBird & Friends Holiday Show year after year.  This event has really become a quintessential part of the winter holiday season in our area, and we are honored to play host to the event and this amazing array of artists each year…and it’s not just a random sampling of songs by area artists. It’s a fully cohesive musical experience…truly a community experience.”

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Jeff covers music for Current, posting weekly show previews and highlighting new bands in the area.

Jeff Milo
Jeff Milo
Jeff covers music for Current, posting weekly show previews and highlighting new bands in the area.

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