No place like home for The Ragbirds

Staff reports

For years, “home” was a place The Ragbirds rarely visited. The band’s music — a genre-bending hybrid of indie-pop melodies, global rhythms and songwriting styles influenced from all over the world — was as broad as their audience, which stretched from the group’s hometown of Ann Arbor, Michigan, to the shores of Osaka, Japan (where they scored a Number One pop hot with the song “Book of Matches”).

In 2010, The Ragbirds reached a milestone in their young career when they independently marketed and sold their 10,000th album.

Show by show, in venues ranging from rock clubs and performing arts centers to festivals encompassing everything from bluegrass to electronica, The Ragbirds developed a reputation as a dynamic roots music band that gave spirited shows. They're playing at Pisgah Brewing Friday, Jan. 13.

They'll be performing songs from their fifth studio album, "The Threshold & The Hearth," written and recorded in the wake of the birth of cofounders Erin Zindle and Randall Moore’s first child. The album explores the ways in which love and family relationships can weather the storms of life, year after year.

The album's guitar solos, played by Erin’s brother T.J. Zindle, point to a longtime appreciation for rock and roll. The deep-seated grooves, performed by the three-piece rhythm section of drummer Jon Brown, percussionist Moore and bassist Dan Jones, mix punch with precision. And Zindle’s conceptual storyline for the album — a make-believe tale of two lovers who meet, fall in love and spend the next 20 years dealing with the joys and struggles that come with any long-term relationship — turn "The Threshold & The Hearth" into a universal album that appeals to anyone looking to forge a home out of the chaos of everyday life.

Zindle and Moore began their relationship busking on the streets of Ann Arbor, playingCeltic and gypsy fiddling over the beats of a tabla, tambourine and Middle-Eastern doumbek. In 2005 the duo gathered three band mates and began to record Erin’s original songs.  The resultant recording was released a few months later as The Ragbirds debut album “Yes Nearby.”

2007′s travel-themed “Wanderlove” was Homegrown Music Network’s number one selling album in fall 2008. Erin’s brother, guitarist T.J. Zindle, joined the band in 2008 and brought a grittier rock-n-roll edge to The Ragbirds’ sound while multiplying the band’s stage energy.

For all their traveling, The Ragbirds maintain a steady connection to their home base.

Michigan, Erin said, “is a beautiful place to be, snuggled in the Great Lakes, close enough to hold hands with Canada. It is connected to a secret, mysterious, magical place called the U.P., but most of all there is an amazingly talented and humbly supportive music community that spreads through the state, clustered into groups in Ann Arbor and Lansing, Grand Rapids, Flint, Traverse City and Detroit.

"The scene (and scenery) keeps us fueled with love and inspiration.”

Big in Japan

Who: The Ragbirds

When: 9 p.m. Jan. 13

Where: White Horse Black Mountain

Cost: $10 advance, $12 door