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The Giving Tree Band, The Ragbirds and Old Shoe, House of Blues, Chicago, IL – 10/4

The Ragbirds are true family with Erin and TJ Zindle being connected from birth as well as percussionist Randall Moore being the former’s husband. “We Belong To the Love” started things off and fit the familial theme of the evening. Erin, clad in a stunning shimmering dress that looked as if she harnessed the cosmos took violin in hand and encouraged audience participation as she began a rhythmic clap. The crowd stayed with her during the tango influenced “Brave New Beat” off their 2007 release Wanderlove. The moral of the song tells of learning to let go of unhealthy relationships and the trappings that come and “make friends with love and mercy.” This was not lost on many who started pairing off and sauntering back and forth across the pit. “Bully” is as Zindle recounts about standing up to bullies. Upbeat and optimistic Zindle sings and plays accordion and thanks the Giving Tree Band for having their band at the party. It’s nice to see groups remain so loyal to their fan base and friends who got them to such great heights. The lyrics to the first verse are true to how Zindle acts onstage. She is a “jumpy little mouse” that is unassumingly grounded despite her immense talent. She commands attention, but never looks as though she craves it.

“Lemon Grove” flowed sweetly as TJ’s backing vocals complemented the lilting melodies of his sister again plucking away at her violin. A West African boogie broke out as the Ragbirds performed the old african tribal dance “Moribayassa” of which the lyrics are featured by the sirens in the movie Oh Brother Where Art Thou? “Good,” an optimistic ditty with an element of the Beatles “Norwegian Wood,” shows off Zindle on mandolin almost sounding like Harrison’s sitar at times. The band’s influences are palpable enough to shine through original melodies and lyrics but subtle enough to leave you curious on what direction they will choose for their next adventure. “Book Of Matches>Romanian Train Song” is a gypsy-laden violin measure that has a tease of the famous “Devil Went Down to Georgia” placed perfectly. Closing your eyes evokes times where you stared into a campfire. Flames dance and move with the time signature and the band controls them in a free form beautifully organic structure. Ending with “Lucky Rhythm” a Paul Simon Graceland sounding number the curtain closed and the stage was set for the headliner.

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