This Wednesday World Café Live Upstairs will host The Ragbirds, an Ann Arbor, Michigan-based band whose sounds and stories are a little too varied to put into existing words. I recently got a chance to chat with songwriter, vocalist, and violinist Erin Zindle, and when I ask her if she’s noticed any commonalities between Ragbirds fans she laughs and tells me, “Ragbirds fans are hard to define, as Ragbirds music is hard to define. Our sound seems to lend itself to lots of different settings, like there are jam band bluegrass music festivals, bars, listening rooms (which seem to attract older audiences), and then we’ll play in parks with a lot of kids.”
The Ragbirds have been making music together for about a decade and are currently promoting their fifth LP, The Threshold & The Hearth, which hit shelves this March. At the core of The Ragbirds is classic folk songwriting, which is then peppered with indie pop hooks, before being doused with fancy flurries inspired by more genres of world music than I can count. They are incredibly danceable, but more in a family friendly way than anything you’d expect to see in a nightclub. And they would seem to have a plethora of wise insights on this world, but much more the uplifting kind than the kind Americana songwriters tend to be best-known for.
The Threshold & The Hearth, in particular, is a concept album that follows two lovers through twenty years of what it takes to be in a long-term relationship. Although the album isn’t a million miles from previous releases, it does rock a little bit harder than they were known to do in the past. It would also seem to be their most accomplished work yet. I ask Erin about how people have been reacting to the album and she tells me that it’s pretty much all they could’ve hoped for: “It was really great to hear people say that the album showed our maturity and was full of life and fresh, and it’s like, ‘That’s what we were going for,’ so that was really nice to hear.” And when I ask what can be expected at their local stop, she tells me that the live show is something they’re extra passionate about, but that they’re also looking forward to getting to play World Café Live in particular.
“Our live show is a lot of fun. It’s high energy. We get so much electric joy playing together and I feel like that’s contagious to the crowd. We hope people dance. We’re really excited for World Café Live. We played the one in Delaware once and it’s really great. It seems like it’s all about the music.”