Formed in 2013 after Geoff Union moved from Austin, Texas to Golden, Colorado, Ragged Union has performed at festivals, concert series and events all across the USA, in England, and China. Past performances include IBMA Wide Open Bluegrass, John Hartford Memorial Festival, Northwest String Summit, Durango Meltdown, Shrewsbury Folk Festival (England), and the Qingdao International Beer Festival (China), to name a few. The band has released three albums, 2015’s ‘Hard Row to Hoe’, 2017’s ‘Time Captain’, and ‘Live at Leeds’, from Seven Arts Theatre in Leeds, England. Ragged Union’s music has appeared on celestial and satellite radio, and can be found on Spotify, Pandora, and anywhere music can be found, streaming or otherwise.
Ragged Union has evolved musically, from its 2013 beginning, where the focus was solidly on fast picking bluegrass and big harmony vocals, to a more progressive and expansive style of string band music, of which bluegrass is one part of the mix. The band builds its sound on a powerful guitar-based drive. The fiddle and mandolin add rhythmic and harmonic elements, both traditional, and new and unexpected. Soulful, compelling singing brings the song stories to life, and a rich and exciting vibe results, with a creative scope that ranges from the more obviously bluegrass, to an old-time string band vibe, and then to a boundary-less approach with changing feels, time signatures, and complex melodies. The sound has become quite liberated from predetermined limits, the songwriting feels classic and timeless, and the live performance stays true the Ragged Union tradition – intense, playful, and unafraid to take a chance.
The band has released three albums, 2015’s Hard Row to Hoe; 2017’s Time Captain, and, Live at Leeds, recorded live at the Seven Arts Theatre in Leeds, England, in 2017. Changing personnel, and then the Covid Pandemic, skewed Ragged Union’s progress for a time, but production is back in full swing at the end of 2021 on a new album of original material, set for release in the first part of 2022.
Geoff Union - flatpicker, singer, songwriter, Fayetteville, NC. The primary songsmith and long-standing leader of Ragged Union, Geoff is known for a songwriting style that’s light and bouncy on the surface, but lyrically deep and complex, with plenty of twists and turns in the music to make the listener come back again and again. Geoff music career spans the time from when he moved to Austin, Texas, after college, in the mid 1990s, to the present. He was a member of the nationally touring Two High String Band from 2002-2011. THSB performed at Merle Fest, Rocky Grass, and many other festivals, and released 4 albums. Geoff has also produced and released 2 solo albums – 2008’s Big Sky Tonight (country), and 2012’s Cold as Steel (bluegrass). He was a standing member of ‘the Bluegrass Outfit’ – a well-known weekly bluegrass stage jam that started in Austin in 2009 at Flipnotic’s Coffee Space, and continues to this day, at Radio Coffee and Beer.
Elio Schiavo - mandolin and vocal, Philadelphia, PA. Elio is a talented singer, songwriter and mandolin player as well as a skilled record producer and recording/mix engineer. He started his performing and recording career in the early 1990’s Santa Cruz music scene as a member of the young popular local band, Blu Forest and co-owner of Mom’s Studio. In 1999 Elio moved to New Orleans where he quickly became embedded in the music community starting a new solo project. He was introduced to and became close friends with Cyril Neville and was brought on as an occasional guitar player in Cyril’s band The Uptown Rulers. Elio produced recordings for Cyril and worked at Tipitinas Studio with the Neville Brothers as an engineer. Elio left New Orleans for the big apple in 2002 where he became involved in the rebirth of the modern bluegrass scene that has since exploded and become a hub of progressive Bluegrass. He started Six Deadly Venoms, a band that quickly gained recognition as one of the best of NY. Elio produced and released two records for Six Deadly Venoms. 2008’s “The Five Deadly Venoms” and 2012’s “The Lucky and The Losers”. Elio is a co-founder of one of New York’s most popular longstanding bluegrass jam sessions, “Monas Monday Night Bluegrass”. In 2016, Elio moved to Colorado where he released a group of progressive bluegrass recordings as a solo artist featuring many well-known players. In 2019, Elio was introduced to Geoff Union and began playing mandolin in the band Ragged Union. Elio co-produced, recorded and mixed the 2022 Ragged Union record “Round Feet, Chrome Smile”
Rebekah Durham - fiddle and vocal, Midland, TX Rebekah Durham began playing violin at age four in her hometown of Midland, Texas. Primarily a classical violinist growing up, she studied Violin Performance and holds a Bachelor of Music degree (B.M. 2008) and an Artist Diploma (A.D. 2009) from University of Denver as well as a Master of Music degree (M.M. 2011) from The Juilliard School in New York City.
Upon completion of graduate school, she began playing and performing more nonclassical music in New York. In 2013, Rebekah joined San Fermin, an indie band from Brooklyn. With them she toured the U.S. and Canada extensively as well as several tours through Ireland, UK, France, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Latvia, and Iceland. San Fermin toured with many well-known performers including Alt-J, The Head and the Heart, Courtney Barnett, Son Lux, and Sam Amidon.
In 2016, after living in New York City for seven years, Rebekah moved back to Colorado. The next year, she left San Fermin and joined Colorado bluegrass band Ginny Mules. Together they released a self-titled record, went on to be finalists at the Rockygrass Band Competition, performed at Chautauqua with the Steeldrivers, and were featured artists at several festivals including Grey Fox, Durango Meltdown, and Arise. After the Ginny Mules disbanded, Rebekah joined Ragged Union in 2019. As she continues to explore new depths in bluegrass and string band music, she also enjoys a variety of freelance opportunities such as teaching violin students, playing hundreds of select events each year, and performing as a substitute violinist with the Colorado Symphony.
For a full listing of reviews, click here
“Ragged Union is on a steady ascent” - Lee Zimmerman
R2 Magazine (UK)
“Geoff Union, Elio Schiavo and Rebekah Durham sound like a musical match made in heaven” - Steve Casemen
“an impressively fresh yet classic sound” - Nick Hutchinson