Tales from the road of life
March 22, 2013
You’re just as likely to see Brooklyn hipsters singing along in the audience of a Yarn show as you are to see Texas country-loving (ala Pat Green and Robert Earl Keen) folk. But despite the differences in attire (and perhaps the drink in their hand – a Shiner Bock versus a gin jalapeno martini), there’s a common theme that certainly unites the crowd.
“People looking for a good time,” said Blake Christiana, the lead singer of Yarn. “Our music isn’t difficult to understand or to feel or to move to, regardless of where you’re from. As far as musical differences of those groups of people, half of those Brooklyn hipsters wish they were from Texas, and the other half ARE from Texas.”
The Brooklyn-based Americana/alternative country band got started nearly five years ago and, in the meantime, has racked up eight Grammy nominations and a slew of fans around the country. The band plays around 200 shows per year – roughly every weekend plus three or four monthlong tours, one of which it’s on now.
Life on the road isn’t always peachy – the six band mates miss their friends and family, of course, but the positives generally outweigh any negatives.
“To look at the audience and see people’s faces – all blissed out, in ‘the zone,’ forgetting their troubles – that’s a real prize,” Christiana said. “Then there’s the people who, after the performance, show us all sorts of kindness and generosity, opening their homes and their lives to us. And, of course, getting to see all sorts of new places is exciting, though this aspect is somewhat limited by the fact that there’s always the next gig that we have to go to.”
That “next gig” is in Frisco. The six members of the band will take the stage at The Barkley Ballroom on Sunday. They’ve toured through Colorado three times and played a dozen shows or more around the state.
“What has stood out about these (Colorado) shows was the immediate, warm welcome from total strangers – strangers no longer – as well as a generally unhinged nature,” Christiana said. “People seem to have little trouble finding fun here.”
Life for Yarn has been busy the past few months. The group is working on a new, all-acoustic album. There are a few songs on the album co-written with John Oates (of Hall and Oates acclaim), and he performs on the album, as well.
“That’s real exciting,” Christiana said. “He’s a really kind, sweet guy, too, beside his load of talent and musical legacy.”
And the band was recently in Nashville, where its manager, booking agency and producer all reside. Each time the band is there, it feels like a homecoming of sorts, Christiana said.
“Spirits were already high, but then the stage manager of the show we were doing, Music City Roots, told us there was a legend playing that night and would we like to jam?” Christiana said.
Turned out, the legend was W.S. Holland, a drummer who worked with Carl Perkins and was one of the members of Johnny Cash’s Tennessee Three. Holland even played drums on the 1955 Sun Records recording of “Blue Suede Shoes” written by Perkins, the song’s original performer.
“After our performance, he went straight to our drummer, Robert Bonhomme, and prodigiously complimented him,” Christiana said. “He also praised one of our songs in particular, which mentions the great love between Johnny Cash and June Carter. Then, at the end of the night, we all got up and jammed ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ as promised. Let me tell you, he’s still got it.”