For Erin Zindle, this year’s Ebird & Friends Holiday Show will migrate to a new format.
The Ragbirds frontwoman and multi-instrumentalist will present the beloved Ann Arbor holiday show virtually Saturday through a free, one-night livestream performance via Facebook and YouTube.
“The pandemic has forced creative people to get extra creative if they want to continue making their art and sharing it with a world in isolation. This is the 13th year I’ve produced the Ebird & Friends Holiday Show, but it’s an entirely different experience in this virtual format. I’ve had to rethink it from the ground up with safety as a top priority,” Zindle said.
Formerly presented live at The Ark over four sold-out nights, this year’s online show will feature a mix of pre-recorded videos interspersed with live performances and virtual special guest cameos. To protect artists and crew members, Zindle implemented a number of rigorous safety protocols throughout the show’s development and production.
“We are filming the production in a large warehouse space where we’ve measured plenty of distance between us, and there is a large rolling door that we open regularly to air out the room. All the crew and artists are masked, with the only exception being the lead singers and horn players who remove their masks for the final video takes,” said Zindle, who teamed up with Allen Audio and Birdhouse Productions to record the show’s performances.
“We all isolated ourselves as much as possible prior to the event, and most have taken COVID tests to be extra cautious. I created a schedule where the featured artists show up by appointment to avoid overlap and reduce our exposure to each other. Like everyone else we have had to make a series of hard choices and sacrifices to keep ourselves and each other safe.”
In light this year’s pandemic challenges, the show will still retain its fun variety-style format and holiday setlist with a star-studded Michigan lineup of new and returning acts.
Erin Zindle & The Ragbirds, The Native Howl’s Alex Holycross, The Accidentals, The Sweet Water Warblers, Seth Bernard, Mark Lavengood, The Gasoline Gypsies, Madelyn Grant, The Crane Wives’ Emilee Petersmark, Shake Steady’s Sean Ike, Dave Boutette and Kristi Lynn Davis, Jen Sygit and others will grace the show’s virtual stage. Comedian Shelly Smith will emcee and introduce the artists from a separate stage set.
“When choosing artists I always try to keep diversity and flow in mind to create a dynamic show with a variety of styles represented. This year I chose artists that have already been involved in past shows and decided to repeat a few favorite songs we already knew,” said Zindle, who formed The Ragbirds in 2005.
“I knew we would not have much if any rehearsal time, and I wanted to simplify the amount of songs we had to learn. We did the new song arrangements via Zoom meetings and shared demo iPhone recordings so we could show up ready to roll the camera.”
Throughout the show, viewers will see creative renditions of holiday favorites along with new original songs with messages of peace, love, unity and cheer. Others will be mournful and somber to reflect the increased longing for in-person social connection while living through an isolating pandemic.
For their sets, several artists, including Seth Bernard, The Sweet Water Warblers, The Accidentals, The Gasoline Gypsies, Emilee Petersmark and The Native Howl, filmed their videos remotely while others were pre-filmed in Zindle’s studio. A few songs will also be performed live on Saturday by the Holiday Show Band.
“Everyone involved in this show has continuously blown my mind with their talent, adaptability and hard work. A show like this takes a community to put together. I expected everyone watching to enjoy this show immensely, and I feel honored to be presenting it,” Zindle said.
“The key element that has made this show special over the years is that we all truly love and respect each other. We love making music together, and we enjoy each other’s company both on and off stage. The holiday show is the one time of year that we would all gather in this way, and it’s been very hard to forego the social elements of that gathering, but it’s the only way we can still make the music happen.”
Viewers are invited to support the show, artists and crew through financial contributions via PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org or through Venmo @Erin-Zindle. All contributors will receive a downloadable, printable pdf program to get a setlist sneak peek and receive a show keepsake.
“In order to make this show free for all to enjoy, we have had to raise all the production costs up front. We are getting close to our financial goal and will still be accepting donations till the final credit rolls,” Zindle said.
“Music has a way of getting into the places that words alone can’t reach, touching the heart, mind and soul. It’s a mysterious thing – it’s miraculous really – what music can do. My job is to create and serve the music and to do my best to share it as far and wide as possible.”
Ebird & Friends 13th Annual (Virtual) Holiday Show
8 p.m. | Saturday, Dec. 12
View on Facebook: Ebird & Friends, Erin Zindle & The Ragbirds and The Native Howl
View on YouTube: Erin Zindle & The Ragbirds
Donate to artists, crew members:
PayPal – email@example.com
Venmo – @Erin-Zindle