The Ragbirds

The Ragbirds

Like a mix tape made by a well-traveled friend, The Ragbirds music is diverse and foreign, yet somehow familiar. The voice at the front of The Ragbirds carries the freshness of the journey itself, and the lyrics point out the scenery like a friendly tour guide.

With a brand new album in 2012, this up-and-coming Michigan band has been traveling the country with their "infectious global groove" gathering a passionate grassroots fan base of all ages.

The 2012 release of The Ragbirds fourth studio effort Travelin' Machine is a new milestone for the band. It's the soundtrack of the observant road-warrior, with layers of world grooves that stir the listener to move. The songs strike a balance between home and adventure, drawing upon elements of Pop, Gypsy, Afro-Cuban, Celtic, Middle Eastern and African sounds, with a little Cajun spice.

The energy of multi-instrumentalist Erin Zindle demands attention. She is the songwriter and front woman of the band, skillfully switching between violin, mandolin, accordion, banjo and percussion, all while dancing. Zindle wears an infectious smile and a positive message, always spun through a poetic loom.

"It's folk-rock music at the heart of it", says Zindle, who started the band with her husband, percussionist Randall Moore, "but I'm influenced and moved by sounds from all over the world". This interest in world music came first from her own roots. With two Irish grandmothers, the young violinist struck ancestral gold when she discovered Celtic fiddling as a teenager. At this same time the music of artists like Paul Simon, Rusted Root, and Peter Gabriel stirred up a deeper longing, bringing distant ethnic sounds into her small suburban Buffalo, NY bedroom. She began seeking out the source of these sounds and her love for travel and world music became a life-long passion.

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

2007′s travel-themed "Wanderlove" was Homegrown Music Network's #1 selling album in the fall of 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. The 2009 international release of "Finally Almost Ready" saw the band invade Japan with the single "Book of Matches" reaching #1 on the charts in Osaka. In 2010 the current lineup came together with bassist Brian Crist and drummer Loren Kranz ,and The Ragbirds reached yet another milestone in their young careers when they independently marketed and sold their 10,000th album.

The Ragbirds albums have received local and national praise, hailed "Highly impressive!" by USA Today and touted as "Astounding international eclecticism" by Reveal Arts. In just six years the band has performed in over forty states to a tune of 150+ shows a year. Crisscrossing the nation in their converted diesel bus that runs on recycled waste vegetable oil, promoting environmental sustainability, The Ragbirds have become festival favorites. They have won over crowds at Rothbury, 10,000 Lakes, CMJ Music Marathon, Summer Camp, Electric Forest, Wheatland, Blissfest, Wookiefoot's Harvest Fest, Ann Arbor Folk Festival, Hookahville, and many more, and have shared stages with Rusted Root, Matisyahu, Railroad Earth, John Butler Trio, Toubab Krewe, Cornmeal, Greensky Bluegrass, Hot Buttered Rum, Jeff Daniels, The Everyone Orchestra, The Duhks, and many others.

For all their traveling, The Ragbirds maintain a steady connection to their home base. While reflecting on Michigan, Erin had this to say "… It's 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."

Jeffrey Lynn Fulks Jr. now known as JL Fulks was born in Greenville, South Carolina in 1990. At age 13, he began playing guitar, after being inspired by his father's love for the blues. JL's immediate prowess with the instrument led to him joining The Praise Band at a local Christian Academy. When his father noticed his son's abilities, he gave him the Stevie Ray Vaughan album "Texas Flood" and told him, "If you're going to play guitar, play it like that." Soon after, JL joined an original rock band in high school. The group ended up winning his high school's "Battle of the Bands."

In 2009, JL formed a rock band called "Until Next Time", with three musicians from the local music scene. The band was very popular in the Greenville, South Carolina region and eventually won a "Battle of the Bands" competition, sponsored by Gorilla Productions. The band parlayed their success by winning the finals at Greenville's premier music venue "The Handlebar". They were subsequently voted Greenville's best rock band and were awarded free recording time at Sit-n-Spin Studios, as well as a headline opportunity at The Handlebar. Things were looking up for the popular band as several independent labels were interested in signing them, but creative differences among the members led to the band breaking up before any success could be achieved.

Undeterred by the band's break up, JL decided to further his musical knowledge by studying jazz with Adam Knight, an instructor at the University of South Carolina. Under Knight, JL's musical evolution branched out to jazz, blues and other styles. It was blues music that touched him the most. JL started writing his own blues songs and performing them throughout the area for most of 2010.

When his family moved to South Florida in 2011, JL continued his musical education by enrolling with Berklee College of Music's online extension program. This afforded him the opportunity to study with some of the world's best guitar and music instructors. While studying with Berklee, JL began making a name for himself in South Florida by performing at open jams and sitting in with local bands. JL soon after started performing with a local cover band called "The Flyers" and recorded his first EP "Dixie Highway" with Patrick Farinas.

It wasn't long before his abilities were recognized and JL was being asked to sit in with many national acts. He has shared the stage with such names as: Robert Randolph & The Family Band, Matt Schofield, Chris Duarte, JP Soars and the Red Hots, Rickey Godfrey, Mac Arnold and the Plate Full of Blues Band, Victor Wainwright & The Wildroots, Damon Fowler, Southern Hospitality, Brandon Santini, Muggie Doo (Buddy Miles Express), Tom Holland (James Cotton Band), Boo Boo Davis, David Shelley and Bluestone, Bob Corritore, John Nemeth, Terry Hanck, Joey Gilmore, and many more.

Persistence paid off when JL was approached by Brandon Santini in the fall of 2013. After seeing JL perform at the Funky Biscuit one night with David Shelley and Bluestone, Santini asked JL to play guitar for his band. JL relocated to Memphis, Tennessee in December of 2013, after three successful tours to play full-time in Brandon Santini's band.

JL worked as Brandon's right hand man for eight months where he opened the show for Brandon and drove the band as his lead guitarist. He toured the country and headlined with Brandon at many great blues clubs such as Buddy Guy's Legends in Chicago, Bradfordville Blues Club, Boston's on The Beach, The Slippery Noodle, The Rum Boogie Cafe, The Blues Hall and many others. Larger showcases became the norm as the band performed at some great blues festivals such as The Daytona Blues Festival, The Springing the Blues Festival, and the Southwest Florida Blues Festival where they opened for legendary blues guitarist Johnny Winter. It didn't take long before JL's guitar playing was noticed by blues editors, writers, and legendary musicians.

After JL's performance at The Southwest Florida Blues Festival, he was told by Johnny Winter's manager that Johnny was impressed by his guitar playing and that he insisted that she come find him immediately bring him backstage to meet with him. The Blues legend and the young guitar phenom had an encouraging conversation about music and life -- quite an endorsement for young JL Fulks. That night lives on every night he plays his Gibson ES-335 that Johnny Winter signed. Although now, to honor Johnny and to preserve the valued instrument, JL mostly plays a new, Custom Shop Gibson ES-339.

After eight great months of touring and performing frequently on world famous Beale Street and gaining invaluable road experience, JL felt it was time to move on to projects of his own and begin work on his new EP. He returned to his hometown of Greenville, South Carolina to begin writing and planning a launch of his own band.

Now, at 25 years old, JL Fulks has already lived the dream that most musicians work their whole lives to achieve. JL has relocated to South Florida and started fronting his own trio again performing at the best clubs and festivals in South Florida. JL continues to collaborate with many artists and plays as a part-time sideman for some legendary blues musicians. He is also a guitar instructor at the School of Rock in Coral Springs, FL.

JL recently opened for Tab Benoit, Doyle Bramhall ll, and Robert Randolph & Family Band at the Culture Room in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. He is also appearing on the roster for various festivals throughout Florida in 2016. JL & his band recently won South Florida's Regional International Blue Challenge and will be competing in the finals in Memphis, Tennessee January, 2016. JL is currently endorsed by UK Guitar Company Hooker Customs, and is currently working on his debut album with Eddie Perez and his Grammy award winning team at @trunoyz. Catch this rising star at a venue near you!

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