Redefining the Classroom

The Ragbirds bring their Travelin Machine to LSSU on Sept. 7

Posted: September 3rd, 2012

The Ragbirds (Photo courtesy of the band)

A print-quality copy of this photo may be found here

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – The Ragbirds, a southern Michigan-based band with folk-rock roots known for its multi-cultural rhythms, will bring its unique sound to the Lake Superior State University Arts Center for a performance at 8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 7.

Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for senior citizens and $5 for students and children, and available at or from the Norris Center box office from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday. The concert is suitable for all ages.

It's rare to stumble upon a band that brings as much joy and creative flare to its music as The Ragbirds. Led by energetic front-woman Erin Zindle, the band tastefully unites multi-cultural rhythms with a roots-rock flavor that is as captivating and flirty as it is smart. The band is coming to LSSU on the heels of the release of its fourth studio record, "Travelin' Machine," and successful performances in the past year at the College Media Journal (CMJ) Music Marathon in New York City and the South by Southwest (SXSW) showcase in Austin, Texas.

Eastern Upper Peninsula and Northern Ontario music fans who have heard the Ann Arbor-based band play are eager to see the group come to LSSU. Even those who have never seen the band live are excited about the performance here.

"I listened to a Ragbirds CD on the way home from a downstate conference and I called to book them the next morning," said Tom Davis, director of the LSSU Arts Center. "They weave the rhythms and melodies of many traditions -- Celtic, African, Australian, Cajun, Reggae -- into a tapestry of sound. There's fantastic percussion, amazing fiddle and guitar, beautiful vocals -- it is like a world music tour in one concert." The songs on "Travelin' Machine," the bands fourth studio album, strike a balance between home and adventure, drawing upon elements of Pop, Gypsy, Afro-Cuban, Celtic, Middle Eastern and African sounds, with a little Cajun spice.

The five-piece project is clearly built around the multi-talented Zindle, who is not only the singer and songwriter, but is proficient in a variety of stringed instruments. This classically trained violinist can aptly pluck the eight-stringed mandolin, wield a wild accordion, and rock the banjo while maintaining lead vocals. Surrounding Zindle's earthy-sweet voice is the whirlwind of guitarist T.J. Zindle, dynamic bassist Brian Crist, drummer Loren Kranz, and standout percussionist Randall Moore.

"It's folk-rock music at the heart of it," says Zindle, who started the band with Moore, her husband. "But I’m influenced and moved by sounds from all over the world."

The interest in world music came first from her roots. With two Irish grandmothers, the young violinist discovered Celtic fiddling as a teenager. Zindle and Moore began their relationship busking on the streets of Ann Arbor with Celtic and gypsy fiddling over tricky beats of tambourine, Middle-Eastern doumbek and tabla. In 2005, the duo gathered three bandmates and began to record Erin’s original songs. Since then, the band has been dubbed "highly impressive," by USA Today and has been pronounced the Best Folk Artist/Group by Real Detroit Weekly.

Chock-full of radio-friendly material, "Travelin' Machine" showcases the band's skills with adventurous lyrics and a unique blend of styles. The album kicks off with the contagious opening track "Six Wheels," an energetic song with Afro-Cuban rhythms and a frisky pop melody that manages to linger in your head all day long. The second track, "Following You," has obvious bluegrass influences with just a charming wink of country twang. Other tracks highlight the percussive prowess of the group with layers of thick drums and sounds reminiscent of an African village. The band's diversity shines in the unique "Acrobats," a Circus-waltz with haunting accordion undertones, while "Mercy of the Sea" is a rock sea-shanty with a classic swagger.

Overall, the album takes the listener on a great musical journey that is as inspiring as the world landscape from which it is drawn.

For more information about the band or its music, visit its website, For general publicity inquiries, package requests, or more information, please contact Jenny Jones, or 734-358-0741. -LSSU-

CONTACT: Tom Pink, 906-635-2315,; John Shibley, 635-2314,; Tom Davis, 635-2184,; Jenny Jones, Grand Circus Media, 734-358-0741,