Erin Zindle & The Ragbirds are ready to soar above the clouds.
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.”
New Sound, New Tunes
Erin Zindle & The Ragbirds feature those catchy melodic components on their latest single, “Curious,” which dropped in September and will be included on a new EP in 2020. It’s the band’s first new material since releasing their last full-length album, “The Threshold & The Hearth,” in 2016.
An aspirational track, “Curious” opens with wah-wah guitars, gorgeous piano chords and upbeat vocals to overcome the stigma of aging and replace it the wisdom gained over time – “I’m not afraid of growing older/I’m curious to see where my story goes/I’m gonna choose my own adventure/I want to know the things that God only knows.” It eloquently rebels against the fear of change, loss and death.
“We’re just seeing life as an endless possibility to choose different paths if we want to or to choose to grow and to deepen and to get better each day,” said Zindle, who worked with Los Angeles-based producer Jamie Candiloro on the track. “It’s an empowering perspective, and it helps us to not be afraid.”
Erin Zindle & The Ragbirds also debuted another new track, “New Story,” live during their Sept. 27 “Grand Reopening” hometown show at The Ark. With exquisite violin solos and rocky guitars, the song highlights the internal strength that comes after weathering a difficult time in life.
“It’s about being able to say that a person is no longer part of a new story that you have to tell going forward,” Zindle said. “It’s an empowering message for sure, but it’s definitely with a different twist.”
Halloween, Holiday Shows
Erin Zindle & The Ragbirds will showcase their new material and old favorites tomorrow night at Founders Taproom in Grand Rapids for their annual Halloween show. The band will wear homemade outfits made by Erin Zindle to capture a fun, spooky and thrilling essence during their live performance.
“We encourage people to dress up because it’s fun,” she said. “We don’t like being the only one dressed up in costume theme, which will be super secret until we show up that day.”
At each performance, Zindle transforms into a seemingly-mythical creature who dances with graceful arms outstretched, handmade wings glued to her shoulders, recklessly digging into her fiddle strings with her bow. Her voice is earthy and ethereal, full of character and texture with lyrics that point to the daily paradox of intentionally cultivating hope in the midst of a crazed world.
Erin Zindle & The Ragbirds will bring musical hope to the world this holiday season with their 12th annual “The Ebird & Friends Holiday Show” Dec. 12, 13 and 14 at The Ark. This year’s Michigan star-studded lineup will include Alex Holycross (The Native Howl), Graham Parsons (The Go Rounds), Mark Lavengood, Carolyn Striho, Anne Heaton, Brad Philips, Jen Sygit, Jessica McCumons (Jessica Delle) and members from The Macpodz, Appleseed Collective, Jive Colossus and more.
“It seems like a variety show style, but it’s all collaborative. It’s not just one artist and then the next and the next. It is a house band with a string section and a horn section and background vocals,” she said. “It’s the big community of musicians that gather. We get really creative around the theme, and we have different featured artists that lead different configurations of that group of musicians. There’s many different styles represented, and it’s a really diverse range of styles and such amazing talent.”
After this year’s holiday show, Erin Zindle & The Ragbirds will go on tour and record more new material in 2020. They also will release more music videos to showcase their danceable, intelligent and vulnerable new sound and captivate live audiences with their invigorating, high-spirited performances. New and longtime fans are welcome to become Bird House club members and support the band’s endeavors through their Patreon account.
“Throughout this year, I’ve been writing a ton of new songs, and you’re going to be seeing a lot more of those songs emerge over the next few months for developing a new album,” Zindle said. “And now we’re in the kind of production phase. We’re putting it all together into a form we can actually present, and we’re just getting more content out there.”
9:30 p.m. Saturday | Ages 21 and up
Founders Brewing Co., 235 Grandville Ave. SW in Grand Rapids
Tickets: $5 admission at the door