TELLURIDE - The Grammy-nominated and Brooklyn-birthed Americana band Yarn will leave the borough to recruit some new music lovers into their self-dubbed fanbase – ”the Yarmy” – Thursday. Charting on radio and getting nods from the AMA for their heartfelt roots projects since 2007, the band has produced a catalog of eight albums tied together by a lively folk thread. It’s like Gram Parsons sipping whiskey, with an alive Jerry Garcia and affected by the modern sound imprints of 2013. If that doesn’t register, then prime songwriting with just enough minimalist instrumentals backing it is a semi-descriptive way of wrapping their sound together.
The momentum has been hitting a new high for Yarn, with recent performances at the industry showcase South by Southwest in Austin, and a feature spot on the time-relevant CNN show, Out Front. Turning major network TV hosts into fans isn’t where the conversion factor ends.
It is not uncommon for the band to share a dinner table or crash out at these same loyal fans’ homes. “They treat us like family, they take care of us when we need it. The generosity of people is remarkable, and I never knew it until I hit the road,” says frontman Blake Christiana.
Christiana has orchestrated cloud-funded KickStarter campaigns that paid for chunks of studio recording costs, and pushes a grassroots song-a-day video series called “Morning Songs” that engages fans on YouTube. “It’s a way to get my creative juices bubbling,” Christiana explains, “even though a lot of those songs will never get played again. Some do make it on to records or the live rotation, so it’s definitely fun to hear the reaction from fans.”
The modern-era marketing strategies are working, and caught the attention of John Oates enough for him to lend two features to Yarn’s latest album, Shine the Light On. “Yarn did a package show with him in Nashville called Music City Roots, and we played a song inspired by old Hall and Oates. John liked what he heard and a few months later I met him back there with a ton of half finished stuff. We just took it from there,” Christiana reflects. Both standout tracks “Tear Me Down” and “The Truth of My Sweet Ann Lee” are obvious moments of rising to the occasion during a prolific collaboration with the mysteriously resurging member of the late 70s rock and soul duo.
Butt-end of jokes aside, these two very different tracks are the product of Christiana’s first ever Nashville co-writing session, and the end result earned the attention of outlets like Rolling Stone. The tonal juxtaposition of their sound, through the lens of the rest of the album, makes it apparent that the Yarn and Oates combination was mutualistic in nature. “I hope to do it again soon,” Christiana hints.
A listening tour of the rest of the Yarn catalog also reveals many more interesting and uptempo tunes that will stand tall in the live setting. “Don’t Break My Heart Again” from their self-titled album, and “Turn the Light Off” from Almost Home are worthwhile places to start. Almost designed to appeal to the inner festivarian in us all, as you listen you can picture them on stage in Town Park during Telluride Bluegrass Festival. When asked what we should expect to hear, Christiana simply said, “A mixed bag – and it’s going to be fun.” For most that will be reason enough to catch their first show in town at the Fly Me to the Moon Saloon this evening.
Yarn, Thu., Dec. 12, Fly Me to the Moon Saloon, 10 p.m., $5