Chapter Next: Erin Zindle & the Ragbirds Bring Their New Story to Bay City’s Revived Prime Event Center

Posted In: Arts & Entertainment, , Local Music, National Music, Artist Feature,   By: Jason Dean

09th December, 2019     0

From the moment her bow deftly touches the strings of her violin, Erin Zindle possesses an almost magical power to transcend time and space, guiding the listener to a place where vibrant sounds emanate from an aromatic melting pot of cultures. It’s as if she is wielding a magician’s wand, casting a blissful and intoxicating spell that fuels the sights, smells, and flavors of her muse. 

Close your eyes and find yourself surrounded by a festive street celebration in a Romanian village. A short while later, you’re on a Scottish bluff overlooking craggy sea cliffs in the breeze. The next song provides yet another background for Erin’s adventurous musical perspective, marinated with intellect, vulnerability, and an abundance of hope. As she continues on her artistic path, the wisdom of experience deepens the impact of her writing. 

Now, with a new lineup and a new EP coming in 2020, Erin is excited to tell her new story as it unfolds. When Erin Zindle & the Ragbirds come to Prime Event Center in Bay City on December 19, it will mark the emergence of the new band name as well, further spotlighting Erin as the creative and energetic focal point of the band. She is, however, quick to point out that the new sound is reflective of the band’s new identity, with each member contributing to the “more vocal-forward arrangements” that are distinguishing the new songs. 

Although she’s always been the band’s primary songwriter, Erin admits the front-and-center visibility of the band’s new moniker is “pretty revolutionary for me, personally. We’d been talking about our new and different sound since early this year, but it didn’t really sink in with people until we decided to make the name change” last September, she says.   

“Hatched” in Ypsilanti back in 2005, the Ragbirds were the live incarnation of Erin’s recording sessions with drummer Randall Moore. At the time, she considered herself a songwriter who happened to sing. “I never thought of myself as a lead singer,” she reveals. “We put an ad out for a vocalist to sing my songs, but nobody answered.”  

Easing into her lead role, Erin has gone on to release five studio albums and one live recording with the Ragbirds, blossoming into a captivating frontwoman along the way. She and Randall got married, and the band went on to average up to 200 shows a year, with tours that have taken them through 47 U.S. states. 

Even motherhood could not clip Erin’s road wings. When daughter Aviva was born in 2012, she made special provisions to accommodate touring with an infant / toddler and was back on the road within months. 

Today, Aviva attends first grade, but she still goes to shows in the summer. As the band preps for its 12th Annual Ebird & Friends Holiday Show at The Ark in Ann Arbor prior to its Dec. 19 Bay City show, touring has become a more strategic endeavor overall. 

New Players, New Story

Now a single mom, Erin acknowledges that moving forward without her former partner and co-founder was an arduous task. Loren Kranz, who previously played percussion with the band from 2013 to early 2016, rejoined in 2019 on drums. Shannon Wade, who joined in 2018, fills out the rhythm section on bass.

“Curious,” the first single from the forthcoming EP, “is my pep talk,” she says. “It has a really positive message, [and] it really helped me get through some hard times.” The song celebrates the wonder and excitement of accumulating wisdom and knowledge as part of one’s life journey. The chorus proclaims, “I’m not afraid of growing older, I’m curious to see where my story goes.”

The next single scheduled for release, “New Story,” debuted onstage last fall, just 2 days after Erin finished writing it. “We opened our show with it, and it was recorded in the studio the following weekend,” she says.

All change offers an opportunity for growth, and Erin’s songwriting is benefiting from her unflinching examination of life. “I’ve always written about striving for growth and a deeper life experience,” she says. If there’s a message in her music, she says, it’s hope.

Of her new material and the new band, Erin says, “The songwriting is more focused, with more vocal-forward arrangements.” All four members sing, and live performances have become tighter and less improvisational. “We’re more conscious of our presentation on stage,” she adds.

T.J. Zindle, Erin’s brother, has been the band’s guitarist since 2009, and his distinctive fretwork contributes additional dimension to the band’s sound. 

From Seed to Root to Fruit

Piano was Erin’s first instrument, and she started taking violin lessons at age 9. In her teens, she was classically trained in both instruments. Her parents, neither of whom were musicians, were nonetheless fully supportive of their childrens’ interest in music. 

Early on, the music that Erin connected with was inspired by culturally diverse perspectives. “Paul Simon was an early influence,” she says, adding Ani DeFranco, Rusted Root, and Peter Gabriel to the list. She also discovered Celtic music during this time. Hints of these influences are peppered throughout the Ragbirds’ musical output.

Over the years, the band has made an impact on the festival circuit and has also shared the bill with an impressive array of talent, including Railroad Earth, Hot Buttered Rum, Big Leg Emma, The Duhks, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, and more.

The band’s live show has evolved into a fully immersive experience. “People are really starting to notice our conscious presentation of the music onstage,” she says. “We’ve stepped up our game with new lighting and DJ elements into our show.”

With a new name, new songs, new players, and a refreshed outlook, Erin Zindle & the Ragbirds are catching their second wind.  

“It’s the full focus of my life and I’m really excited to see what 2020 brings for us … and fill in the story we’re just starting to tell.”

To purchase tickets and learn more about Erin Zindle & the Ragbirds, please visit these links:



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