music / Columns

Jam Central Station: The Ragbirds Concert Review – 12.15.18 – Cleveland, OH

December 22, 2018 | Posted by Jeff Modzelewski



The Ragbirds played their final show of 2018 in Cleveland last Saturday, bringing both a sense of closure for the year as well as a clear vision for moving forward. The band borrowed heavily from their most recent album for the show while mixing in a few older songs, a handful of covers, and plenty of new material to get fans excited. As always, they also brought their infectious energy to the stage and built a connection with the audience throughout.

The early portion of the set saw the band in a playful mood. They recently did their annual holiday show, and brought in the spirit of the season with “We Need A Little Christmas” early on. They also referenced the season a little more indirectly in a new song called “City of Snow.” Erin took a minute to find her voice, with fast paced “Sometimes Honestly” not really capturing what she can do on the mic. By the time she hit a couple older tunes with “Bully” and “How Can I Say” she seemed to get on track. Erin songs exude a personal touch, and it’s clear that she’s leaning heavily on her own life and experience in her lyrics. That allows her personality to shine on stage, since everything she’s putting out, both good and bad, is clearly coming from the heart. She does that so well, putting out unconditional love on a song like “Bottomless Heart” or mourning a lost friend on their brand new dark and brooding “Liquor Store.”

Guitarist TJ Zindle doesn’t get too much time to show his ability to shred (The Ragbirds are, in the end, a folk band after all) but he does take his opportunities when they come. One certainly came on a powerful version of “Alleyway Saints,” made all the more poignant with Erin talking about co-writing the song with TJ after the death of their brother. Afterwards, the band finally reached back into the catalog (having only played newer songs since very early in the set) with “Book of Matches” and a solid “Brave New Beat” with a cover of “Jump In The Line.” The best part of the two older tunes was Erin’s fiddle work, which was a little limited throughout the set as she spent much of the show on keyboard. They went back to covers for the encore, with TJ taking the lead on Elvis Costello’s “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding” and The Beatles “Golden Slumbers”->”Carry That Weight”->”The End.” They announced prior to the closing that this would be drummer Jon Brown’s final show, and he ended his stint as a Ragbird by absolutely nailing both tunes with some flair that you don’t normally see from a folk band.

The new songs of the night really were among the highlights. Along with “City of Snow” and “Liquor Store” we also got “Curious” and “Armed and Dangerous.” Each song had a unique flavor, lending to the hope that The Ragbirds continue to explore different styles in their music. They also showed their desire to move forward, as Erin sang in “Curious,” “I’m not afraid of growing older, I’m curious to see where my story goes.” With these new songs, a somewhat re-configured band, and the promise of a new album, I’m curious to see where things go with this band as well.



Peach Festival lineup announced
The Peach Music Festival will have a stacked lineup this year. The fest, which began with an Allman Brothers focus, will return to Scranton, PA from July 25-28. The lineup includes Phil Lesh & Friends, Trey Anastasio Band, The String Cheese Incident, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, moe., Greensky Bluegrass, Lotus, Blues Traveler, Lettuce, and a whole list of other great artists. There’s also still a heavy Allman Brothers presence with the Allman Betts Band and Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band.


Tropical Throe.down
January 10-14
Runaway Bay, Jamaica
moe., The New Mastersounds, Big Something

Jam in the Sand
January 15-19
Runaway Bay, Jamaica
Dark Star Orchestra, The Wailers, Green Leaf Rustlers

International Incident
January 25-28
Runaway Bay, Jamaica
The String Cheese Incident, Keller Williams

Panic en la Playa Ocho
January 25-29
Riviera Maya, Mexico

Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds Riviera Maya
February 15-17
Riviera Maya, Mexico

Phish in Riviera Maya
February 21-23
Riviera Maya, Mexico

Winter Wondergrass Colorado
February 22-24
Steamboat Springs, CO
Trampled by Turtles, Railroad Earth, The Infamous Stringdusters, Fruition, Billy Strings, The California Honeydrops, Della Mae with Bonnie Paine, Jeff Austin Band, The Shook Twins

Suwannee Spring Reunion
March 21-24
Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park
Live Oak, FL
Steep Canyon Rangers, Billy Strings, Peter Rowan, Donna the Buffalo, Larry Keel Experience, John Stickley Trio

Winter Wondergrass California
March 29-31
Squaw Valley, CA
Greensky Bluegrass, Trampled by Turtles, Leftover Salmon, Sam Bush Band, ALO, Fruition, Billy Strings, Jeff Austin Band, The Travelin’ McCoury’s

Bender Jamboree
April 11-14
Plaza Hotel & Casino
Las Vegas, NV
Greensky Bluegrass, Railroad Earth, The Infamous Stringdusters, Leftover Salmon, Keller Williams, Billy Strings

Sweetwater 420 Festival
April 19-21
Centennial Olympic Park
Atlanta, GA
Widespread Panic, The Avett Brothers, Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit, Rebelution, Moon Taxi, The Claypool Lennon Delirium, Keller Williams’ Grateful Grass, Turkuaz

May 16-18
Marvin’s Mountaintop
Masontown, WV
Pigeons Playing Ping Pong (x5), Aqueous, Litz, Mungion, Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers

May 23-26
Cumberland, MD
The Del McCoury Band, The String Cheese Incident, The Travelin’ McCourys, Trampled by Turtles, Railroad Earth, The Marcus King Band, Billy Strings

Summer Camp Music Festival
May 23-26
Three Sisters Park
Chillicothe, IL

Dark Star Jubilee
May 24-26
Legend Valley
Thornville, OH
3 nights of Dark Star Orchestra, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Leftover Salmon, Billy Strings, Dumpstaphunk, The Lil’ Smokies, Donna the Buffalo, The Nth Power

Camp Greensky
June 6-8
Wellston, MI

Keller in the Caverns
June 21-23
Pelham, TN
2 Keller Williams performances as well as Pettygrass, More Than A Little, and a Grateful Gospel Brunch

Electric Forest
June 27-30
Double JJ Ranch & Resort
Rothbury, MI
3 nights of The String Cheese Incident, Bassnectar, Lettuce, The Floozies, TAUK, Spafford, Twiddle, Ghost Light, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, The Nth Power, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades

Smoky Run Music Festival
June 28-30
Butler, OH
Gov’t Mule, Trampled by Turtles, Railroad Earth, Deer Tick, Son Volt, The Travelin’ McCoury’s & Jeff Austin Band present Grateful Ball, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, Rumpke Mountain Boys

July 4-6
Snow Ridge Ski Resort
Turin, NY

High Sierra
July 4-7
Quincy, CA
Greensky Bluegrass, Jim James, St. Paul & The Broken Bones, Galactic, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, ALO, Marcus King Band

FloydFest 19 “Journey Home”
July 24-28
Floyd, VA
Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band, The String Cheese Incident, Brandi Carlile Tyler Childers, Margo Price, Fantastic Negrito, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Keller Williams’ Grateful Grace featuring Love Cannon

Peach Music Festival
July 25-28
Montage Mountain
Scranton, PA
Phil Lesh & Friends, Trey Anastasio Band, The String Cheese Incident, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, moe., Greensky Bluegrass, Lotus, Lettuce, Infamous Stringdusters, Yonder Mountain String Band, Allman Betts Band, Billy Strings

Lockn’ Festival
August 22-25
Arrington, VA


Thanks again for stopping by. I’ll be back next week with more jam. Until then, check me out on Facebook and Twitter for up to the minute concert announcements. Until next week, Jam On!