Friday evening was filled with warm spirits as the Ragbirds drove their party van from Ann Arbor to Cleveland with a performance on the main floor restaurant stage of the Music Box Supper Club. News was still breaking on the tragedies taking place on the streets of Paris halfway around the world as folks arrived for dinner, drinks, and the show.
For seven years, the Ragbirds have been traveling the world as world beat folk rockers. Generations ago, immigrants came to America bringing the sounds and culture from their home countries forming the basis of our “roots” music. The band, consisting of lead singer Erin Zindle (violin, accordion, bango, mandolin, percussion), brother T.J. Zinle (guitar), Dan Jones (bass), Jon Brown (drums), and Erin’s husband Randall Moore (percussionist), have channeled this gypsy-Cajun-cosmic-African-psychedelic sound to expand the boundaries of Americana.
On this visit to Cleveland, the audience was treated to some new songs that were recorded for the band’s fifth studio album The Threshold & The Heart, due out in March of 2016. Produced by Jamie Candiloro after a successful PledgeMusic campaign, the band is looking at expanding their loyal fan base with this next progression of their songwriting and arrangements. Featured this evening were “Sometimes Honestly,” “We Carry the Place,” ‘Tough Love,” and “Lemon Grove,” during the first set.
Highlights of the 21-song, two set performance opened with “Book of Matches/Romanian Train Song,” in which Erin added a little Charlie Daniels devil fiddle. Erin’s stage presence and smile shined throughout the evening as she introduced “Silence Is Everywhere,” about how we live in a noisy world of advertising, computers, and cell phones. “Medicine” was dedicated to someone in the audience going through remission from cancer, and was followed by a traditional West African song about overcoming obstacles, titled “Moribayassa,” which includes portions of the traditional gospel song “I’ll Fly Away.”
The first set ended with T.J. jamming out like a crazy man on “Brave New Beat.” He traded licks with his sister’s fiddle on “Get In” during the second set. “Tomorrow River” was a song Erin wrote for her mother with a tinge of homesickness in the lyrics and some really emotional solos on violin. A line dance broke out during the crowd favorite “Shake, Shake, Senora,” with the entire band playing percussion instruments at one point.
A moment of silence was taken to honor the fallen and celebrate the life we have as Erin asked us to find things around us that are beautiful. The band dedicated the song “Onyame” — a Ghanan word meaning “close to our hearts” — to the citizens of France.
T.J. was featured on vocals for their cover of Steve Earle’ “I Feel Alright,” as the lone encore finale. As patrons left, they could see across the river that the landmark Terminal Tower had changed its colors from purple to the colors of the French flag.