Based in Boulder, Colorado, Ragged Union features 2016 Walnut Valley National Mandolin Champion, Jordan Ramsey, and has been touring nationally and internationally since the winter of 2014. Their sound is built around the singing and songwriting duo of husband-and-wife, Geoff and Christina Union, and comes to life in the electrifying hands of some of Colorado’s (and the country’s) finest bluegrass musicians, including, along with Ramsey, former Spring Creek/Blue Canyon Boys banjo wizard, Chris Elliott, and Rocky Grass Academy veteran Justin Hoffenberg on the fiddle, who along with the Unions form a dynamic and cohesive unit that puts on memorable and exciting shows for dancers, listeners, traditionalists and progressives alike.
Like many bands these days, there’s something borrowed and something new about Ragged Union’s approach to bluegrass music. There are recognizable melodic and (country) lyric themes alongside non-traditional ones; breakneck grassy duet numbers, and slower ‘country-funk’ tunes; traditional arrangements alongside composed ideas and the occasional ‘jam’ section. Throughout all of it, the bluegrass quality of the sound shines through with world-class instrumentalists deeply versed in the genre, a powerful rhythmic drive, and close-harmony singing.
Ragged Union’s travels have taken them to festivals, concerts and clubs on both sides of the Atlantic, including a three-week tour of England and Scotland in October 2016. Plans are in the works or a return trip to the UK in August of 2017. The group also frequents the Pacific Northwest and West Coast in general.
The band released their debut CD, ‘Hard Row to Hoe’, in 2015, and is currently at work on a follow up album, expected to be ready for release by the summer of 2017.
Geoff Union (guitar, vocal; Fayetteville, North Carolina) has been performing in bluegrass bands for almost 20 years – most notably with the nationally touring Two High String Band (2002-2009). THSB played major festivals in the US including Rocky Grass, Merle Fest, Spring Fest, concert series and clubs all across the country. Union is a powerful flat pick guitarist and singer, and writes in an “outsider” lyric style, eschewing standard country themes of love and loss for darker material including moonshinery, obscure history (mostly related to moonshine) and desperate fiction.
Christina Union (lead and tenor vocal; Eagle River, Alaska) has been singing all her life and was a member of several local Colorado bands when she and Geoff met in 2008. She has a powerful blues-flecked emotional delivery, a natural talent for harmony, and is a skilled lyricist and songwriter.
Jordan Ramsey (mandolin, vocal; Knoxville, Tennessee) 2016 Walnut Valley National Mandolin Champion and 2008 Rockygrass Mandolin Champion. He studied under Raymond McLain and Jack Tottle at East Tennesse State University, and has shared the stage with the likes of David Grisman, Porter Wagoner, Ralph Stanley, Curley Seckler, Tater Tate, Alison Krauss, Dan Tyminski, Hunter Berry, and Adam Steffey.
Chris “C-Bob” Elliot (banjo; Huffman, Texas) studied banjo at South Plains Community College with Alan Munde. He won the Rocky Grass banjo competition in 2007, and is well known for his work in the popular band Spring Creek Bluegrass, and more recently the Blue Canyon Boys. He has appeared on many national stages with those bands, and also teaches.
Justin Hoffenberg (fiddle, Boulder, Colorado) has been a mainstay of the Colorado bluegrass scene for a decade. He fronts his own band (currently on hiatus), Long Road Home, which had featured Pete Wernick on banjo before his return to Hot Rize. Justin is also been a resident instructor at the Rocky Grass Academy.
Michael Sivcovich (upright bass, St Louis, Mo) migrated to Colorado with his family in the spring of 2015. He performed in both bluegrass and jam bands on electric and upright in St Louis. His powerful forward drive fits perfectly with Ragged Union’s barn-burner style, and his experience with both bluegrass and non-grass music leaves the door open for added dimensions in the future.