Music lovers may be able to follow the smell of French fries to The Saline Fiddler’s annual Hometown Concert on Saturday, March 11. That’s because The Ragbirds – the genre-bending, indie-pop fusion band sharing the bill with The Fiddler’s – fuel their tour van with vegetable oil and fryer grease reclaimed from local restaurants.
While The Ragbirds got their playing Celtic and gypsy fiddle tunes on the streets of Ann Arbor, today they crisscross the United States performing more than 150 gigs a year. A large van is a necessity for this kind of work, and with the miles come high fuel costs and carbon pollution. That’s why in 2008 they replaced their old van with a new Ford E-350 diesel van and had it converted it to run on waste vegetable oil.
”As touring musicians, we must travel constantly to get our music heard beyond the borders of our hometown, and running on waste vegetable oil allows us to travel without dependence on foreign oil and all of its related environmental, economic and political problems,” the band says.
Some minor fuel system modifications and the addition of heated fuel tanks and filters allow their van “Cecelia” (the patron saint of music) to run on used vegetable oil straight from restaurant dumpsters.
As for The Ragbird’s music, founder Erin Zindle told Nashville’s Music City Roots radio station, “It is folk-rock music at the heart of it. But I’m influenced and moved by sounds from all over the world.”
She said her 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. She began seeking out the source of these sounds and her love for travel and world music became a life-long passion.
To learn more about The Ragbird’s van conversion, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lNb2vNxkaMQ&feature=youtu.be
To watch Ragbirds music videos, click here: http://www.theragbirds.com/media/
The Saline Fiddler’s Hometown Show is Saturday, March 11, 7 p.m. at Saline High School’s Ellen Ewing Auditorium. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students. They will be available at the door starting at 6 pm or online at EventBrite.com