Upfront and Company, popular for their College Nights and live music performances, has a Michigan favorite appearing on their line up for this month. Known for their upbeat and eclectic songs, mixing gypsy music with Celtic sounds, The Ragbirds will be rocking with their “infectious global grooves” on the stage Oct. 8 and 9.
“It will actually be the start of our tour across the Midwest,” said lead singer and songwriter, Erin Zindle. “It’s such a great way to kick off.”
The Ragbirds’ fall tour stretches all the way to California and back again. The other members include T.J. Zindle who plays the guitar and sings, Dan Hindlebrant on the bass guitar, and Randall Moore and Tim Dziekan with percussion.
Even with such a full van, Zindle intends on being productive during their travels.
“One thing that I can do in the van is just sit there writing (lyrics),” Zindle said. “When the lyrics feel complete, I pick up an instrument like the piano, or sometimes the mandolin or the banjo. Then I’ll bring it to the group and they’ll put in their parts like percussion and the bass line.”
The Ragbirds perform an average of 130 shows a year. They’ve been all over the United States, and they’ve also toured Japan. Though they are busy, Zindle doesn’t seem to be short on inspiration.
“I’m inspired by all of my life experiences and spirituality and positivity in general. Not the fluffy kind, but the sort of life experiences that come back to this positive note and strive to see this bigger picture,” she said.
That’s not the only thing that Zindle enjoys about traveling. Although she admitted that the drive sometimes seems quite redundant and seeing the road gets kind of old, she notices a lot of positive things that result from their travels across the country and overseas.
“I truly enjoy traveling. You get to wake up in a different place every day,” said Zindle. “I love meeting all of these truly beautiful people and doing all sorts of interesting things.”
Among those interesting experiences, never needing to stop at a gas pump might be one of them. That’s because their formally diesel-fueled van was converted into a van that runs on waste vegetable oil, the kind that just about every restaurant throws away.
They usually stop at any of the local family restaurants to fuel up, but if they can find a Taco Bell or other fast food chains, they’ll stop for the bonus of a roadside treat. It has helped to cut down on their band’s carbon footprint by more than 90 percent.
“Being environmentally aware has really been a personal goal, and it’s been a group goal of ours too since the beginning,” Zindle said. “We really started thinking about it more and more as we started traveling farther for our tours. It was just one little thing we could do to help the environment. We try to do many little things like not using plastic water bottles and recycling what we can.”
The Ragbirds have accomplished much as a band, but they still have one more goal in mind.
“We’d like to go back overseas and do more tours there. We take so much from their musical styles and incorporate it into our songs. It would be really cool if we could give some of that back by performing for the different countries,” Zindle said.
For now, they are content to come to Marquette to perform. In fact, since their band originated in Michigan, they have visited the Upper Peninsula on several occasions during their many tours.
“It’s so beautiful up there,” Zindle said. “We’ve had a lot of really good experiences in the Upper Peninsula. It’s so rich and natural. The beauty is just inspiring.”
Fans here in Marquette are excited for the show as well.
“They use so many different instruments and make interesting use of the sounds that they have. I really think that they will put on a very good show for us,” said Ken Schafer, a senior at Northern.
Everyone over the age of 21 can attend The Ragbirds’ performance at Upfront and Company starting at 10:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 8 with an encore show on Saturday, Oct. 9 also at 10:30 p.m.