The Ragbirds
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The Ragbirds

Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States | SELF

Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States | SELF
Band World Rock


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Worldly Birds - 11/4/10"

For a band with only half a decade under its belt, Ann Arbor, Mich.-based The Ragbirds have a distinct sound fledgling bands get wet dreams about. The songs walk a line -- and sometimes deliberately dance on either side -- between modern folk and world-beat, taking obvious musical cues from most of the eastern hemisphere. Now in the middle of a U.S. tour and writing songs for a new album, The Ragbirds are giving listeners the pleasure of hearing word music from the hands and throats of Midwesterners, led by the jaw-dropping vocals of singer and 'Bird co-founder Erin Zindle. (We could listen to Zindle sing about her grocery list and still be blown away.) We caught up with Zindle to hear that voice a cappella.
- Las Vegas City Life

"Travel the world with The Ragbirds"

In the short span of nine months, The Ragbirds have gestated a sound and experience so unlike anything you’ve seen in these parts, that you may begin to wonder if you have teleported to another land. Although the familiar dark, smoky surroundings of the divided pub, with its pool tables, bare brick walls, old worn plank floors and frat boys doing shots to impress the girls is nothing really all that new, you WILL find a feeling of growing anticipation clouding the air as soon as they hit the stage. Then, gradually, as the violin spirals through the crowd and the tribal drums, harmonizing vocals, and rich bass become more and more mesmerizing, you notice the bodies that have begun to swirl around you taking on new shape and form while your own torso starts to sway, and you find you’re flying with The Ragbirds to enchanting rhythmic destinations around the globe.

Driven by the music as it revealed itself to her, Erin Zindle began recording The Ragbirds debut CD, Yes Nearby, on her own with no clue as to how it would finally manifest in the end. Randall Moore soon joined her in her journey with the other Ragbirds, Jeff Stinson, Adam Labeaux, and Greg White joining in one by one as the recording progressed. “We all share the same vision to create music that is diverse and honest, and that is what has brought us together”, said Moore.

Transcending genres is what The Ragbirds do best. Soaring past singular definition, they could easily fit into almost any category, and yet no specific label seems to adhere steadfastly to them. Their songs bounce weightlessly from Afro-Cuban rhythms to Celtic stomps, cascading through a myriad of poetic melodies along the way. They topple through thick harmonica-laden blues riffs to land in a heap of sun-splashed reggae, dripping with beguiling lyrics that cling to your memory like drenched silk. “I can’t believe these folks just got together this year, they are amazing! It sounds like they have been together for years,” added a glittery-eyed, dread-locked momma at the show as she lit a stick of nag champa; a fitting embellishment for this ethereal scene.

By incorporating a multitude of instruments, ranging from accordion to wah-wah enhanced violin, The Ragbirds scale past the limitations of the typical guitar, bass and drums line-up so many bands prosaically depend upon, delivering a truly creative sound. While they graciously borrow from traditional folk music of various nations and genres to season their collective sound, they manage to escape coalescing styles to the point of dilution, while maintaining an originality that is delightfully fresh and inspiring.

Although they have only played a small handful of shows, they are quickly gaining notoriety among the Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor music scene, as well as sprouting out to other areas, one of which will be Flint when they share a bill at Churchill’s with Glowb on May 7. They have a light-hearted yet professional stage presence that lends to the incredible energy they unleash upon the spirits of those lucky enough to be privy to their art. If you would like to be one of the lucky ones, check out their website at to purchase their debut CD, Yes, Nearby, and to find out when and where they will be performing next.
-Cheryl Wilson

- The Uncommon Sense Magazine May 2005

"All Music 4 Star Album Review May 2005"

Yes Nearby, is the debut album by Ann Arbor Michigan's Ragbirds. Led by multi-instrumentalist songwriter and vocalist Erin Zindle, the Ragbirds have literally nothing in common with her city's long standing garage rock or experimental traditions. Zindle is a boundless songwriter: she simply writes what she hears regardless of genre classification or what's happening on the current music scene. What is immediately striking about these proceedings is their consistency and wide ranging creativity. Over 12 songs, Zindle and her Ragbirds-as well as a host of other friends and collaborators-search for the heart of song and use everything at their disposal to give it voice. Her violin caresses and careens, drums, hand percussion, and handclaps weave through the bottom ends of her songs to give them weight, depth, dimension, and heat. These tomes are created from trace elements of poetry, American and Briitsh Isles folk traditions, country, reggae, blues, jazz, pop and rock, without any conscious fusing of disparate elements. Fans of Bruce Cockburn's world music conscious work from the late 1970s on, Over The Rhine at their most adventurous, Marta Sebestyen and Muzikas, and the more melodic music of Lisa Germano will be drawn in, indeed mesmerized by this debut. The set opens with "Low Flying," where a darbukka, hand percussion and her droning violin usher in a taut melody that is almost chantlike in its circularity, providing a solid frame for her poignant lyrics, sung in a clear relaxed contralto. The deep yet folksy reggae groove of "Narcissick," is fueled by Todd Perkin's insistent yet bare bones bassline that undergirds the guitars and percussion. Zindle offers a moral compass by using the first person to communicate soul sickness in full weedy flower. A slippery gypsy violin winds itself sensually and mournfully around hand drums and a ringing mandolin in "Picture," and offers a portrait of attachment and lovesickness that is deeply moving --and instructive. The Eastern modal groove in "Totem Pole" touches Turkish, Armenian and Bulgarian folk musics in its melancholy articulation that opens itself up to hope as mandolin, guitars, and violin are kissed by dumbek and shekere. The droning Yemenite modality of "Adoration" would not have been out of place on Peter Gabriel's Passion album had it contained vocals. It's haunting, and full of a nearly erotic longing for union with the Divine. In sharp contrast, the countrified, near whimsical joy in "Believe It," is open, full of sky and sun with its slippery accordion and meld of strummed acoustic and distorted, roaring electric guitars underlining a personal manifesto. "Holy Kiss" carried by a lilting piano is a sacred love song. In its body, desire, brokenness, and searing honesty are carried in the grain of Zindle's voice to an Other (stood proxy for by the listener) who is both blessed and humbled by this naked offering of truth, spirit, and vulnerability. Yes Nearby is a rare first step, for the poetic intensity of its focus, the high quality of its musicianship and the quiet, yet near-astonishing precision of its songwriting. It marks a musical terrain where spirit and flesh, the sacred and profane, the moral and the ambiguous come together in an intoxicating, instructive dance of truth and beauty in everyday life. This is evidence of the very best of what contemporary, independent pop music has to offer.
-Thom Jurek - AMG

"Homegrown Music Network Review 2008"

The Ragbirds hail from Ann Arbor, Michigan, and while the Irish Hills might not be too far away, there's no pigeonholing this group. On their second album, Wanderlove, the quartet takes listeners on a lengthy trip around the country and the world, from their own backyard to the Appalachian hills and across oceans and deserts far beyond. The talented bunch, including Randall Moore and Tim Dziekan on all grades of crucial percussion, is seemingly driven by Erin Zindle's multi-instrumentalism and songwriting. The improbably named guitarist Matthew Melody also chips in with stellar backing vocals, lending real drama to the proceedings when necessary.

"Good" is a complete chamber-roots undertaking, as gleaming horns trade blows with the band's ever-present, propulsive style of worldly groove. Their meticulous pop leanings are also evident on tracks like "How Can I Say" and "Medicine," in which Zindle's vocals provide a focal point for their eclectic meanderings. Others, like "Brave New Beat," "Ypsilanti Song," and the opening "Tarantella" more profoundly showcase the band's diverse mixture of thumping beats and classic instruments. The Melody-led "Moon Miss Me" reminds me of the afro-tinged roots-pop of Sim Redmond Band, and "Space" brings to mind the cosmic gumbo of Hypnotic Clambake, while the slinky "Religion" brings to mind noone in particular. They've found their own sound via a steady application of influences.

The band perhaps gives the most Irish/Celtic weight to the last part of the album, on the airy "Hiding Place" and the starry "Harvest," before getting all aboriginal on us with the closing "Roar, Claw, and Bite." It's rare to hear something new and exciting in the realm of folk/roots music, but the careful alchemists of The Ragbirds have given us just that with Wanderlove.

-Bryan Rodgers - Homegrown Music Network

"NYC Knitting Factory Show Review by Aquarian Weekly 4/12/08"

The Ragbirds/Knitting Factory/April 12
By Olivia Taubner
NEW YORK, NY – Playing New York City for
the first time can be a daunting experience for
many.We can be your best friends, but also
your toughest and most forthright critics.Prime
example: This year’s Yankee home opener,
where the gentleman singing the national
anthem hit a bad note and the entire stadium
let out a collective gasp – no holds barred.
However in addition, we are the most diverse
city in the world, and we tend to listen to anything
with open ears and an open mind.
The Ragbirds, an eclectic folk rock outfit
hailing from Ypsilanti, Michigan, came to the
Knitting Factory’s Tap Bar for their first show
ever in the city; and you know what? They played
fearlessly – even if they were terrified inside.
They won me over, while having everyone in
the room dancing liberally, whether drunk or
When I can use the word “refreshing” about
an artist, it excites me.The Ragbirds are unique,
exceptionally talented, and undoubtedly give
off a vibe that easily puts you in the frame of
mind you wish for on the days you run around
like a chicken with its head cut off.You finally
don’t have to think about a damn thing. With
songs like “Tipi Baya” – inspired by a friend’s
young daughter who repeated the phrase while
no one knew what she wanted – about being
misunderstood, and “Tarantella” – inspired by
an Italian folk dance to cure a poisonous spider
bite – about any kind of poison, they show you
how to look at life from new angles.
Front woman Erin Zindle not only has a
captivating and supple voice, but I’m not sure
there’s an instrument she can’t play well – or
at all. Throughout the night she picked up a
violin, tambourine, mandolin, African drum,
and cabasa, among others, all intertwined with
her singing. She also plays the accordion, but
it was a little under the weather and couldn’t
make an appearance this time around. One of
the best things about Zindle is the smile
plastered on her face throughout the night as
she hops around and performs. There is no
doubt she adores playing music.
Drummer Randall Moore and percussionist
Tim Dziekan did not overpower one another,
or bore the hell out of me as some
“percussionists” do. They played beautifully
against each other and laid out a solid groove
– along with bassist Dan Hildebrandt – for Zindle
and guitarist Matthew Melody, who certainly
lives up to his name.
On more than one occasion, the band went
off into a jam session; but not the type where
they were out in another galaxy and I was falling
asleep as I waited for them to return to the
home planet. I was immediately into it, and
wherever they floated off to, they took me and
the rest of the room with them.
The Ragbirds - The Aquarian Weekly

"Press Quotes"

"Highly Impressive!" USA TODAY
"The most engaging new band I've heard this year is The Ragbirds....eclectic, restlessly creative, poetic, and delivered with confidence, it grows on you with every listen."
-Jeffery Overstreet, Looking Closer Magazine, Seattle WA
It's rare to hear something new and exciting in the realm of folk/roots music, but the careful alchemists of The Ragbirds have given us just that!
-Bryan Rodgers, Homegrown Music Network
"This is evidence of the very best of what independent contemporary pop music has to offer"
-Thom Jurek, All Music (AMG)
"The Ragbirds have gestated a sound and experience so unlike anything you've seen in these parts, you may begin to wonder if you've teleported to another land"
-Cheryl Wilson, The Uncommon Sense Magazine (Flint MI)
"I feel like I've stumbled across a band that's destined to achieve the same level of cult-greatness as The Innocence Mission, Bruce Cockburn, Ron Sexsmith, Sufjan Stevens, and yes, even Over the Rhine.... The Ragbirds debut album, Yes Nearby, is a work of astounding international eclecticism, mixing everything from reggae to Celtic to blues music along with plenty of world music into a unified, enchanting whole"
-Josh Hurst, Revealarts (Tennesee)
"A terrific melting pot!"
-The Detroit News
"In an era of catchy but ultimately unsatisfying pop tunes, this is a welcome treat!"
-Roger Lelievre, The Ann Arbor News (Ann Arbor MI)
"A remarkably captivating hybrid of world music and folk, spanning numerouse musical genres with amazing accuracy and apparent ease"
-Dave Kargol, The Ann Arbor Paper (Ann Arbor MI)
"The first time I heard them play I was stunned....I heard their music and literally stopped in my tracks. Their music is not only inspiring and powerful, but a successful experiment in teleportation as well"
-Jamie Bradish, The Ypsilanti Courier (Ypsilanti MI)
"Their world music influenced repetoire and virtuoso musicianship is already earning a buzz"
-The Ann Arbor Paper (Ann Arbor MI)
---------------------------------------------- - Mixed

"Music Feature/ The Ragbirds take flight"

Winging It
The Ragbirds take flight
by Dave Kargol
When it comes to good next-door neighbors, a few generalizations might be made. For example, on certain occasions they are not unknown to appear at your doorstep with an empty measuring cup in hand, warmly inquiring whether you, by any chance, have any sugar to spare. At other times they might wave politely as you coast up your street, or feed your pets, or even take temporary custody of your undeliverable packages. If the folks next door, however, should ever decide to start a band, the odds that their home will emanate anything other than mosh metal, Jimmy Buffet covers or any combination thereof are decidedly low. That is, of course, unless you’ve ever had the opportunity—such as I did a few months back—to live twenty feet away from the Ypsilanti-based Ragbirds’ practice space.

In the mere 365-or-so days that have passed since the quintet first assembled, The Ragbirds have successfully engrained themselves into the local scene by gracing many a Michigander with their remarkably captivating hybrid of world music and folk. And with the band’s organic melodies and exceptionally tight execution, it’s no surprise they’ve managed to turn more than a few heads.

“I think it’s really important for local bands to help each other and work together rather than compete,” explains Ragbird Randall Moore, placidly leaning in his chair and all but ignoring his decreasingly warm beverage. He and singer/multi-instrumentalist Erin Zindle—27 and 26, respectively—are arguably the band’s strongest creative influences and certainly their directors on the business end. They’ve met my girlfriend and I at a local coffee shop and, being the genuinely kind souls they are, flat-out insisted on buying our drinks. Zindle, a full-time music instructor with over 50 clients and a musician since childhood, nods approvingly as Moore—her significant other for a couple years running—explains that the thing he loves most about music is its transformative quality: that is, it’s ability to positively affect the mood of the listener.

He relates the tale of a gig the band played recently in Zindle’s original hometown of Buffalo, New York, where they were greeted by a less-than-enthusiastic club owner who scoffed and rolled her eyes when Moore asked her for a glass of water. By the conclusion of the band’s vibrant set, the woman had apparently changed her ways and transformed into an honest-to-god sunbeam.

“That was one of the most powerful affirmations for us,” says Moore. “By playing we can actually change how a person feels. Even if you make no money, there’s almost something far more invaluable about that.”

It’s not just surly bartenders who dig on the birds, either. John P. Law tips his hat in their general direction as well. According to Moore, an officer who visited the band’s practice space equipped with nothing but a nightstick and a noise complaint let the band off easy and said, “If you’re going to make noise, this is cool noise to make.” Eat your heart out, Ice-T.

Perhaps the most noteworthy mention of all is the Ragbirds’ independently released debut album Yes, Nearby. A finely captured bit of music, the record beams with harmonic life as keys and a catalog of stringed instruments flirt with Zindle’s beautifully sung and astutely written lyrics. “Narcissick,” a swampy reggae jam, bobs along as Zindle softly sings, “The radio played that sad song twice tonight at least, and I have a hard time believing it has nothing to do with me.” The songs here have as much range as they do depth, too, with the full collection spanning numerous musical genres with amazing accuracy and apparent ease. “Totem Pole” is a hypnotic, percussive romp that, like its proceeding “Adoration,” sounds authentically Middle Eastern. “Low Flying,” the record’s introductory track, stirs with patient mandolin and pensive words (“Tell all the low flying birds who scrape their feathers on the pavement I’m coming down to join them”), and the playful whistles and drums of “Wake the Birds” wrap things up on a decidedly upbeat note.

“I think true musicians don’t know what to do but play music,” shares Moore toward the end of our interview, after alluding to the band’s recent appearance on Mitch Albom’s radio show and their slew of upcoming performances. He wraps up the promising situation presently facing The Ragbirds rather eloquently. “We’ve been blessed,” he says. “And we’ve worked our asses off.”

- The Ann Arbor Paper October 2005

"Wanderlove review"

Aside from being an elegant showcase for down-to-earth songwriting, this album plays like a survey of ethnic instruments and rhythmic idioms. Beautifully recorded percussion and stringed instruments ambitiously caper through the breezy soundscape of the album conjuring Moroccan bazaars and Appalachian mountain towns alike. Not quite the roots-informed musings of Gillian Welch or the new country of Nickel Creek, this Eastern Michigan five-piece brings together a fine mix of border-crossing style and excitingly fruitful musicianship. Definitely pay a visit to or to hear the music, or to marvel at the monster list of summer show dates. — Ryan Cunningham - Ryan Cunningham - Recoil Magazine


2009 Finally Almost Ready
2007 Wanderlove
2006 Catching Fire (recorded live in Ypsilanti)
2005 Yes Nearby



Led by dynamic, energetic front woman and multi-instrumentalist Erin Zindle, The Ragbirds utilize an arsenal of instruments from around the world. The Ragbirds are a fusion of folk rock and pop hooks over danceable world rhythms stirred with a Celtic fiddler's bow.

Surrounding Zindle's earthy-sweet voice is the whirlwind of guitarist T.J. Zindle and dynamic bassist Brian Crist, spinning over the world-beat grooves of drummer Loren Kranz and percussionist Randall Moore. Zindle skillfully switches between violin, mandolin, banjo, accordion, and percussion, all while dancing around the stage, drawing the awe of audiences across the country.

The Ragbirds albums have received local and national praise, hailed "Highly impressive!" by USA Today and touted as "Astounding international eclecticism" by Reveal Arts.  The Ragbirds were formed in 2005 with the release of "Yes Nearby."  2007's world-travel themed "Wanderlove" was Homegrown Music Network's #1 selling album in the fall of 2008. The 2009 international release of "Finally Almost Ready" saw the band invade Japan with the single "Book of Matches" reaching #1 on the charts in Osaka. In 2010 The Ragbirds reached yet another milestone in their young careers when they independently marketed and sold their 10,000th album.

The Ragbirds have performed in over 30 states to a tune of 150+ shows a year. Crisscrossing the nation in their converted diesel bus that runs on recycled waste vegetable oil, these festival favorites have performed at Rothbury, 10,000 Lakes, Summer Camp, Ann Arbor Folk Festival, Hookahville, and more, and have shared the stage with Rusted Root, Railroad Earth, Toubab Krewe, Hot Buttered Rum, The Duhks, and many others.