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Thursday, April 17, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 44.0° F  Overcast
The Paper

TOUR STOP

The Ragbirds infuse world music with Midwestern folk rock
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Erin Zindle, the multi-instrumental wonder who helms the Ragbirds, doesn't even try to define her band's musical style with a genre tag. So just how did she make her way to the Ann Arbor, Mich., group's sparkling fusion of folk-rock and world music?

The Buffalo, N.Y., native found her tuneful side at a young age, taking piano lessons as a tot and picking up the violin in grade school. But high school was when things got really interesting. Zindle didn't just study her family tree; she decided to climb it, fiddle bow in hand.

"My family is Irish, so I really got into Celtic folk music," she told Charleston City Paper earlier this year. "Getting into various types of gypsy violin music, tangos, and more sensual and exotic forms came next." But sounding like a gypsy caravan is no easy task. "It's taken some time to learn the technique and to dig into the emotional depth to play those kinds of songs."

Add a longtime fascination with African drumming, plus a minor Paul Simon obsession, and you've got the essence of the group's sound. Zindle corrals this herd of rhythms with a strong and steady voice, making the whole affair gallop forward at a lively, thoroughly danceable pace.

Though the band haven't released an LP since 2009's critically lauded Finally Almost Ready, they've been raising funds for their next project through Kickstarter, amassing more than $10,000 during a spring pledge drive.

Zindle has also been busy introducing her solo work to the masses. Her solo debut, Scenes from the Fragile, Agile, Avian World, dropped June 1 and has been generating a buzz among folk-loving bloggers. While percussion drives the Ragbirds' sound, especially at live shows, this album takes a quieter approach, trading drums, guitars and bass for a layer cake of strings, pianos, vocals and the occasional bagpipe. Expect a few similarly textured tunes when the full band hits the High Noon Saloon Aug. 8.

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