“Ragged Union is a powerful new group that has all the essential elements of a great band – top-notch musicians, original material, tight harmonies and blistering instrumentals!” Ken Seaman / Mid-Winter Bluegrass Festival
Ragged Union’s hard-driving bluegrass, with a tinge of the traditional and a healthy dose of the blues, has become a favorite for quite a few music lovers since their inception a few years ago.
Not many folks have said it better than Ron Thomason of Dry Branch Fire Squad who said, “This IS your grandfather’s bluegrass music but NOT his lyrics or subject matter. These tunes are ‘traditional’ in their approach and in RU’s presentation, but the subject matter of the lyrics is wholly modern; that is, they deal with modern angst, problems, even fixations in both a literal and metaphorical way. And this is the crux: that’s entirely different than how bluegrass music has been ‘updated’ to date. It is beyond appropriate; it is fresh and innovative while preserving through their instruments the things one likes about bluegrass music.”
Some pretty powerful words for a band who is just now releasing their first album. The music coming from this six-piece Colorado based ensemble, lead by husband and wife Geoff and Christina Union, is memorable and provides a platform for players performing original tunes and off-the-beaten path standards, winning fans in the process.
There is an intimacy and tightness surrounding the vocals, with award-winning instrumental work, a powerful rhythmic drive, and up tempo arrangements giving way to the edgy, outsider songwriting that has become an earmark of their style.
Hard Row to Hoe was recorded in the fall/winter months of 2014 in Ft. Collins, Colorado. Former Rebecca Frazier/Hit and Run banjoist, and current player for Finnders and Youngberg, Aaron Youngberg, engineered and mixed the project consisting of thirteen tunes, eleven singers, two instrumentals, ten originals and three covers.
The album features upbeat, rhythmically charged originals with a dose of uncommon, outside the bluegrass box lyrics and modern adaptations of traditional numbers. The instrumental prowess of Ragged Union players is evident whether the band is joining in for fast tempo fun-ness on “Simple Life,” written by Christina Union and featuring a solid hook and bluesy female vocal or on a softer, sweeter ballad such as the waltz, “Two Tracks Coming,” written by Geoff and hauntingly sung by Christina, spotlighting the lonesome winter imagery so often experienced in the Colorado countryside.
Other songs include “Rake out the Nails,” a bluegrass ballad written by Steep Canyon Rangers Charles Humphrey and Sam Guthridge, bouncy shuffle “Midnight Train,” traditional Red Allen honoring “Don’t Lie to Me,” guitar based instrumental “High Line,” and many more.
Band members Christina Union (lead and tenor vocals), Jordan Ramsey (mandolin, vocal), Chris C-Bob Elliot (Banjo), Pat Hoeper (fiddle), and Michael Sivcovich (upright bass), have created a sound that is masterful in the hands of seasoned musicians and with an appeal that is infectious. Audiences are responding.
Banjo master Pete Wernick says, "Geoff and Christina can really blend their voices, and their band adds fresh and crisp support....well-played bluegrass!"
Their debut album, Hard Row to Hoe, introduces music lovers to a band whose leader, Geoff Union, moved with his wife Christina to Golden, Colorado from Austin, Texas, where they immediately dove into the Front Range bluegrass scene, from Oskar Blues to Avogadro’s Number, Cervantes Other Side, Swallow Hill, and the Golden Clear Creek Concert Series.
The band has also performed at several festivals including Bluegrass on the Arkansas (Salida), The Kerrville Folk Festival (Kerrville, Texas), and Mid Winter Bluegrass Festival. Future dates include the Groove Music and Arts Festival (Georgetown, Colorado), John Hartford Memorial Festival (Bean Blossom, IN), and High Mountain Hay Fever Festival (Westcliffe, CO).
Ragged Union is now ready to take their music to larger audiences. As Charles Humphrey III of Steep Canyon Rangers said, "Ragged Union's Hard Row To Hoe is a fresh burst of bluegrass!"
(more at http://raggedunionbluegrass.com/about)