The Ann Arbor infectious global groove group has taken flight with a new band moniker and migrated toward new music wrapped in breathtaking melodies, vocal harmonies and improvisational elements.
Previously known as The Ragbirds, the quartet of Erin Zindle (vocals, violin, mandolin, accordion, banjo), TJ Zindle (electric/acoustic guitar, vocals), Shannon Wade (bass, vocals) and Loren Kranz (drums, vocals) is now Erin Zindle & The Ragbirds.
“The name change sends a very clear message that this is different from what we’ve done before. This is different enough that we feel like it needs a new name,” said Zindle, who formed the band in 2005. “Also, there’s the sense of me stepping up and really taking ownership of the role that I have played in the band this whole time. My bandmates are just so amazing. I’m so proud of my band right now, and they’re the best guys I could possibly ask to work with.”
Throughout the band’s 14-year history, Erin Zindle & The Ragbirds have maintained a passionate grassroots fan base by continually reinventing themselves with an evolving sound while remaining rooted in the high-energy sphere of world-based folk rock. Today, they’ve shifted their sound to include more melodic components along with uplifting vocals, edgy guitars and groovy rhythms.
“We have less going on in the percussive world, and in the rhythm section, it’s a little less busy. And it’s interesting how that happened at the same time as I was having this natural shift toward developing my voice and stepping forward as a singer and writing songs with stronger melodies as I improve as a songwriter,” Zindle said. “I’m just getting much more honed in my craft so that I can write songs that are more vocal forward and focus on the melodic elements.”
The Royal Oak indie folk singer-songwriter will share her highly personal, reflective songs with an intimate Ann Arbor crowd at Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and Tearoom.
“This one’s just going to be on my own. I want to give myself some time and space to focus on my own work,” said Rivard, who will perform two 45-minute acoustic sets. “I am working on some new songs that I will be performing, and I will be doing some covers. It will mostly be original music, but the covers will be my interpretation of the songs.”
Throughout her mesmerizing sets, Rivard will showcase raw emotional vocals with a heartfelt wall of acoustic sound. Her relatable sonic tales of love, travel and growth will resonate with crowds of all ages and musical interests.
“There’s the spiritual element of letting go and letting music flow through you. The best music that I’ve created is what just comes out of me,” Rivard said. “I’m not trying to manipulate it, I’m not trying to do anything – it just comes. I’m committed to it, and I’m going to keep on going because there’s so much to learn from it.”
Rivard spent the last three and half years honing her guitar chops after studying with Detroit singer-songwriter Joel Palmer. She later added guitar to her repertoire after playing drums, piano, banjo and autoharp while growing up in Royal Oak with several musical siblings. That instrumental prowess also led to a deep musical appreciation for Simon & Garfunkel, Gillian Welch, Lauren Hill and Scott Joplin.
“I discovered when I was younger the soundtrack for the movie, ‘Amelie,’ by Yann Tiersen,” she said. “It’s instrumental stuff that’s kind of playful and whimsical, so I think that played a part in the kind of music that I play.”
“We developed this concept to throw these benefit shows and have the shows go to a good cause. We found out October is domestic violence awareness month, and we were planning it in April and thinking a fall show would be good,” said Erika Ratliff, who co-founded Groovin’ for Good in April with Sara Adas, MSW and LLMSW, and Stormy Chromer drummer Amin Lanseur.
“We had the concept, and then we had the cause, and we started calling around. We made a list of different area nonprofits that focus on domestic violence and sexual assault, and we settled on First Step. We’re really excited that they’re involved, and they’re going to be at the event, too.”
All ticket sales from Friday’s show will go directly to First Step, a Wayne County nonprofit based in Plymouth that provides comprehensive services for victims of domestic and sexual assault. Services include a 24-hour help line, information and referrals, community education, transitional housing, temporary emergency housing, assault response, and children’s advocacy and prevention programs.
In addition, Friday’s show will feature a silent auction with creative items and services donated by visual artists and local vendors. All proceeds from the silent auction will go directly to First Step.
For their debut EP, Torus Eyes enters a new sonic orbit toward another mythological dimension.
That dimension blends ethereal synthscapes, intergalactic drumbeats and Greek myths to form “Pythia,” an otherworldly, prophetical release from the Detroit-based electronic music duo of Rho Solomon and Gwendolyn Dot.
“Pythia was a Delphic oracle back in the day, and she was really respected and someone who we consider as a person of deep intuition and wisdom,” Dot said. “That’s something we both value in a person, but also in a woman, so we’re talking about the goddess within us all like this intuition and free spirit that we all have within us that guides us.”
Together, Dot and Solomon serve as wise, spiritual EDM leaders throughout their introspective four-track journey filled with intuition, chance and growth. On “Pythia,” they effortlessly move through a spectrum of new sonic boundaries ranging from darkwave to synth and goth pop to Italo disco.
Their musical journey encompasses heady, uplifting lyrical content aimed at evoking a soulful, calm intensity. At first listen, “Pythia,” which drops Friday, results in a space odyssey of the mind filled with endless possibilities and seeks creative inspiration from Enya, I Break Horses and Chairlift.
“I think in general we have a healing philosophy, it’s something that is in our personal lives. It’s like health and wellness, but it’s not so catchy like that. It’s a deep, spiritual aspect to both of our lives independent even of each other that we bring through to our creative work,” said Dot about the EP’s overall inspiration and creative direction.
“We don’t journal lyrics, we’re not diary lyricists. We’re both into concepts and big ideas and working with the collective unconscious and archetypes. I think mythology is something we’re both influenced by, and we both read a lot. Carl Jung is an inspiration for us.”
Known as The Plugin, the producer-beatmaker showcase and competition will spotlight “The Dirty Thirty,” a 30-minute sample chopping contest with catchy creations from emerging hip-hop artists.
During the contest, artists will have a half-hour to make beats from a previously chosen sample they can download. After the 30-minute time limit is up, they will showcase their beats and be rated on a point system for their mix, creativity and arrangement by a panel of three judges. The winning artist with the most points will receive money or another prize from Plugin event sponsors.
“After we do the competition, then we allow the winner to do a beat set, and they can play some of their instrumentals,” said Rod Wallace, a metro Detroit hip-hop producer and beatmaker who oversees The Plugin. “We also may have people there who are seeking things to do with sync licensing, and then they get a chance to hear from the artists. It’s always been a great party.”
The former high school administrator and teacher launched The Plugin in May after running a student music education program. He teamed up with Grove Studios, an Ypsilanti-based rehearsal and recording space, Double Negative People, a Detroit record label, and Mic Moseley to host and sponsor the monthly event.
“As I had the opportunity to come back to Eastern to direct a program here, I also began working on my PhD, and I was focusing around how music technology can be used to teach kids transferrable skills,” said Wallace, who’s also a lead engineer for Grove Studios and a second-year doctoral student at Eastern Michigan University. “What I found in doing some early research was producers are very adept are teaching themselves how to use software. They’re very adept at teaching themselves skills using YouTube and using video.”
Wallace also noticed how music technology education connects directly to STEM-based curricula and teaches student producers and beatmakers transferrable skills. The goal is to provide laptop musicians with a productive, creative and educational outlet for developing and sharing their own music.
“Another thing that came up in the research is the fact that there isn’t a lot of collaboration. People are kind of like mad scientists, they stay to themselves and do what they do,” Wallace said. “They might work with an artist, and they might not work with an artist. I wanted to create a venue where not only could they work together and show off their skills, but it was also an environment that catered itself toward networking and connecting with artists.”
Those connections start with other producers and beatmakers who perform at The Plugin each month. Tonight’s event will feature sets from Brooklyn Beatz (aka Josh Johnson), Josh Hype, Tru Klassick (aka Taylor Michael) and DJ Buff as well as classic hip-hop trivia and a 50-50 raffle to benefit local nonprofits.
“We’ve spent our time trying to gather more sponsorships and trying to make some more connections with producers who can really come through and show people what to do as well,” Wallace said. “It’s always a really fun time, and I just look forward to continuing to do it.”
John Lennon is often remembered for his time as an enigmatic member of The Beatles, the smart and witty frontman who could charm crowds and gain their animosity alike. He is also remembered for his strong political stances, namely for causes of justice and the promotion of peace.
Ann Arbor recently saw one of these promotions for peace in memory of John Lennon. On Oct. 10, the Veterans for Peace John Lennon Birthday Concert at The Ark saw local musicians come together, performing both Lennon’s own songs and other peace and protest songs. Proceeds went to the local chapter of Veterans for Peace to fund their Peace Scholarship Program.
Lennon was always leery about the politicians whose influences steeped into the lives of everyday citizens. In 1968 at The National Theatre, believing that “…our society is run by insane people for insane objectives, and I think that’s what I sussed when I was 16 and 12, way down the line.”
He also stated that “If anybody can put on paper what our government, and the American government and the Russian, Chinese, what they are actually trying to do and what they think they’re doing… I’d be very pleased to know what they think they’re doing, I think they’re all insane!”
These sentiments can be heard through his song, “Gimme Some Truth,” a song where Lennon sings that he is tired of hearing the things spread by “neurotic, psychotic, pig-headed politicians.” As Lennon’s political voice demanded to be heard, so did his music grow to become the tool to spread it to the world.
His voice was also spread by the support and influence of Yoko Ono. As a contemporary multimedia artist and peace activist herself, Ono helped Lennon find ways to voice his own thoughts about the world around them, from government corruption to the Vietnam War and everything in-between.
The second annual hard cider festival will feature 10 Michigan-crafted hard ciders, a host of delectable West Cross food offerings and five emerging Ypsi-based music artists to celebrate an autumn afternoon in the city.
Hard cider and mead fans will experience a bushel of sweet, tasty brews from Farmhaus, Northville Cider, Sierra Rose, Blake’s, Virtue, Pux, Fourth Coast, St. Ambrose and Cherry Creek as well as local favorites Bløm Meadworks, Unity Vibration and 734 Brewing Company.
“This is their time to fall in love with more than one favorite and connect with the representatives of each brand,” said Julie Palmer, West Cross Cider Festival event organizer. “With names like Ballyhoo, Traffic Jam, Skinny Dip and Absynthe Botanical, it will become immediately clear that cider is as diverse as the maker behind it.”
Palmer and the West Cross Cider Festival team partnered with the Michigan Cider Association and beverage distributors to bring new and returning cider producers to the growing event, which is located at the intersection of College Place and West Cross.
“Because Michigan is at the top of our nation’s apple-producing states, we’ve got so much to offer,” Palmer said. “One only needs to scratch the surface to find many Michigan ciders in most stores.”
Festival attendees will be able to purchase cider tasting wristbands for $25 in advance online. The first 500 purchases also will include souvenir tasting mugs for hardcore cider aficionados to personally enjoy the festival’s brews with food from Wurst Bar, Tower Inn, Veg-O-Rama and other local eateries.