Interview by Scott Preston
The Ragbirds began in 2005 with songwriter, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Erin Zindle and world percussionist Randall Moore in their search to create fresh, original songs sprouting out of their common love for world music and their desire to weave these distant sounds into more familiar genres. With the addition of guitarist/vocalist Matthew Melody, bassist Dan Hildebrandt, and percussionist Tim Dziekan, who share the vision of creating honest, creative, and original music combining these global and local elements, The Ragbirds fully realized their unique sound.
In late 2005 The Ragbirds released their debut CD, Yes Nearby, an independent, full-length album consisting of 12 well-crafted songs. After receiving scores of critical acclaim for Yes Nearby, the band hit the road that summer and has been touring all over the country ever since. In June, 2007 the band released its second studio release, Wanderlove, which has a world travel theme with a pop appeal and was called “Highly Impressive” by USA TODAY.
In live performances the band incorporates variations on traditional African drum pieces, each member trading their instrument for a nearby hand drums. The band has a strong belief in the lyricism of poetry and positive music, and the power of dance-able rhythm.
Cincy Groove: How and when did the Ragbirds first get together?
Erin Zindle: The Ragbirds started with these songs I (Erin) just knew I had to record. Randall was my boyfriend at the time (we’re married now) and he had just started playing drumset, after studying world percussion for many years, so I had him learn the songs quickly and lay tracks down on the record. We gathered band mates as the recording progressed and started rehearsing to perform the songs live. None of us knew where it would all end up, and the cast has changed completely since then, but that was the beginning. Each time we advanced one of our band mates dropped out and we went through an audition process to find a replacement. That is how we ended up with our current lineup.
Cincy Groove: Who are some of your musical influences?
Erin Zindle: Paul Simon, Rusted Root, Baka Beyond, Kila, music from all over the world, too many to name.
Cincy Groove: How many shows do The Ragbirds play in a year?
Erin Zindle: In 2006 we played nearly 100 shows and this year we are doing many more. We are heading towards doing this full time and getting closer all the time.
Cincy Groove: Do you have a day job? what was your last day job?
Erin Zindle: Matt (Matthew Melody, our guitarist) and I both teach private music lessons for a living a few days a week. Other than that, there are no real “day jobs“.
Cincy Groove: What do you like to do when your not playing music?
Erin Zindle: We all like to play disc golf and watch movies. I love gardening. Whenever we have a weekend day off, we can be seen out at a club watching one of our friends play music somewhere. We love to go to concerts and often can’t with our busy nightlife.
Cincy Groove: Whats your favorite venue to perform in?
Erin Zindle: There are a few favorites. In the listening room style, we love to play The Ark in our hometown of Ann Arbor, but the Trinity House Theatre in Livonia is close to our hearts as well. As far as bars venues, we love to play breweries – Short’s in Bellaire or Bells in Kalamazoo. Our favorite festival to play so far has been Project Earth in Minnesota, put on by WookieFoot – an entirely charitable event.
Cincy Groove: Do you remember the first concert you ever went to?
Erin Zindle: It’s a tricky question – what qualifies as a concert? I have been performing and seeing music performed from a very young age. The first rock concert I can remember was Pearl Jam in Buffalo, about 1994. It was sensory overload and I was a teenager who could hardly begin to process it all, but it was very emotional, the electricity and power that the music forced through my body.
Cincy Groove: Are the Ragbirds working on any new projects?
Erin Zindle: We are always working on new songs and projects. We are hyper-active over-achievers and there are many new songs we have been leaking out one by one. We are sure to have a new recording within the next year, but plans have not been solidified yet.
Cincy Groove: When is the first time you picked up the mandolin?
Erin Zindle: About ten years ago a friend of mine handed me a “tater-bug back” style mandolin and explained that it had the same strings and notes as the violin. A light went on and I started playing Irish tunes like I had been playing it forever. (I had played violin already at that point for ten years) It was just familiar in my hands. She gave the instrument to me and I have been playing it since.
Erin Zindle (vocals, violin, mandolin, banjo, accordion, percussion)
Randall Moore (drumset, djembe, percussion)
Matthew Melody (guitars, vocals)
Tim Dziekan (conga, talking drum, djembe, percussion)
Dan Hildebrandt (bass, percussion)
Upcoming Ragbirds tour dates:
for complete show details visit theragbirds.com
05/22/08 Founders Brewery
05/23/08 – 05/25/08 Spring Hookahville Legend Valley Thornville OH
05/29/08 The Crofoot Pontiac, MI
05/30/08 The Loft Flint MI
05/31/08 McManigals Irish Pub Manistee, MI
06/05/08 The Boathouse Saugatuck MI
06/06/08 Bells Eccentic Cafe Kalamazoo, MI
06/08/08 Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds Ann Arbor MI
06/13/08 Nor’Eastr Music Festival Mio, MI
06/14/08 Nor’Eastr Music Festival Mio, MI
06/26/08 The Waterfront Menomonie, WI
06/27/08 – 06/29/08 Project Earth Music Festival Geneva MN
06/28/08 Project Earth Music Festival Geneva MN
07/04/08 Nelson Ledges Quarry Park Garrettsville, N.E. OHIO
07/18/08 Hiawatha Music Festival Marquette MI
07/19/08 Hiawatha Music Festival Marquette MI
07/25/08 Hoxeyville Music Festival Cadillac MI
07/26/08 Hoxeyville Music Festival Cadillac MI
07/31/08 Wisteria Cornstock Festival Pomeroy OH
08/01/08 Dunegrass Music Festival Empire MI
08/02/08 Silver Maple Music Festival Comstock, MI
08/03/08 Dunegrass Music Festival Empire MI
08/08/08 Feel Good Festival Amherst WI
08/09/08 Grand Marais Music Festival Grand Marais MI
09/06/08 Wheatland Music Festival Remus, MI
09/13/08 Terre Haute Blue Festival Terre Haute, IN