Artist Interview – Erin Zindle

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Erin Zindle of The Ragbirds

Erin Zindle of The Ragbirds

Ben: Congratulations on motherhood and baby Aviva! Are you and Randall completely different Ragbirds now?
Erin: Thank you! Everything is different when a baby comes into the world. I have new joy and love I never would have comprehended before (new scars and new worries as well). Being a mom is a lot of work and, as all mothers know, it is rewarding beyond measure. As far as The Ragbirds, we have slowed down our hectic pace of touring and are working on other revenue streams – licensing our recorded music, teaching, freelancing, and deepening our roots in the Ann Arbor community. We used to play nearly 200 shows a year! When we do tour, the baby comes along with us everywhere we go – we have a road nanny who makes that possible. In her first 12 weeks of life Aviva will have been to 20 shows in 13 states, including 2 music festivals.

Ben: Are the other guys head-over-heels in love with her?
Erin: Vivi is such a good baby – so beautiful and alert. Everyone falls in love with her! She has an infectious smile and shares it often. I love watching her win over someone’s heart, time after time.

Ben: Tell me about your upcoming Ebird & Friends Holiday Show?
Erin: This show has become a yearly tradition – for us and for many Ann Arbor families! It is not your typical Holiday Show. I gather a crew of uber-talented musicians and we get creative around a common theme: Holiday music – meaning Christmas songs old and new, winter songs, original music, and other cultural holiday songs from all over the world. It is totally diverse and fresh – highly entertaining for all ages.

The front line features Jill Jack, Lindsay Lou (Lindsay Lou & The Flatbellys), Katie Lee (Appleseed Collective), Laith Al-Saadi, Sean Ike (Third Coast Kings), and Jess McCumons (The Understorey). We have fiddles,uillean pipes, horns, whistles, loads of percussion, glockenspiel, hand bells, piano and more played by Tyler Duncan (Ella Riot/My Dear Disco), Diana Ladio (The Moxie Strings), Ross Huff (The Macpodz) and others. All this with a killer house band to back it up (Dan Piccolo, Mike Boyd, Brennan Andes, Randall Moore, and Loren Kranz) and our darling MC, comedienne Shelly Smith.

Ben: What is the format of a show like this? What can people expect?
Erin: The featured artists each choose two songs in their own unique style. I work with them to arrange the songs utilizing the instrumentalists and backup vocalists we have, often writing or transcribing string, horn and vocal parts to flesh it out. The house band learns the tunes and we all come together for one big rehearsal. The Ragbirds perform two songs, including a Holiday original. Then we put together a few big show-stoppng instrumental numbers to add to the mix and top it off with a finale and encore that involve the entire cast.

Ben: I assume that some of the musicians have never played with each other before, is it cool to have an event that makes those connections?
Erin: That’s the beauty of it. The musicians are wonderful and so many friendships and collaborations are born each year. The dress rehearsal is about 6 hours long and it’s a big party at my house with food and mulled wine. We have a blast putting it together and everyone respects each other so much. I feel that the experience really deepens the Ann Arbor artistic community.

Ben: This is the 6th year you’re doing this. Has it become easier to plan and organize?
Erin: It would get easier, except that I am ambitious, so I set new challenges each year to make the show bigger and better. I’m trying to keep things as simple as possible this year because I’m a little busier with a new baby and all. The big challenge this time is filling the theater for a third performance.

Ben: Is the first year with 3 performances?
Erin: Because of the show’s popularity we are expanding to three performances for the first time this year.. (One in Ann Arbor and two in Hartland). We sold out two shows last year. We are also expanding to do a Kids Show in the same format. The first one was this past Mothers Day and it was so much fun that we’re planning to make that a yearly Springtime event as well.

Ben: What other shows do you have coming up?
Erin: We’re taking it pretty easy this winter – not doing as many shows because we are developing material for a new studio album in 2014.