“Nobody’s doing a better job of bringing the true folk music of America to kids of the modern era than Red Yarn. It’s soulful and genuine.” – Bill Childs, KUTX/PRX/Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child
I grew up in Morgan County in SE Ohio in a little village with lots of woods. My mother would play her acoustic guitar and sing old folk songs that I probably started singing before I talked. Folk music wasn’t really a genre in my mind, it was just music. Perhaps living in the Appalachian mountains and having a history of folk and bluegrass roots shaped my entire thought process of what makes good music, and it has never gone away. I wrote and played songs as a child, picking up guitar with relative ease, and continued into college and I now play for my kids. Music is not what I do, as I sign I once had said, it is who I am. Imagine my surprise when I left Ohio after college for the first time and lived in Portland, Oregon to find musicians who LOVED folk. It was a surreal experience to be in tiny Athens, Ohio one minute and then off Burnside in Portland the next to find I was experiencing the very same music scene from home. It was beautiful and the music gave me a sense of belonging in the world. Were these people experiencing the same feelings and thoughts I had when I heard a banjo or a guitar? Wow! Since I only brought two suitcases with me, I quickly saved up enough cash to buy another acoustic and started writing songs on my way to work on the bus to Swan Island. While my stay in Portland was relatively brief, I ended up in Austin, Texas and well over a decade and a half later, I’m still here listening and playing the same music I love – and I happen to write about music right here on my blog. One of those artists we love just happens to be an Austin, Texas native who now lives in Portlandia and he goes by the name Red Yarn.
Red Yarn (aka Andy Furgeson) is a family performer and teaching artist in Portland, OR. Since 2012, Red Yarn has played more than 250 shows a year and has worked with thousands of children at elementary and preschools. His first album, The Deep Woods, was critically acclaimed. His second album, Deep Woods Revival, was a wonderful tale of how Red Yarn spent his summer at his grandparents’ farm by a mysterious forest. We also loved his third album, Wake Up and Sing, which came out last April and was produced by GRAMMY award winner, Dean Jones, but I really want to talk about Red Yarn’s new fourth album. Born in the Deep Woods, which drops on March 10, 2017, completes the Deep Woods trilogy that explores musical genres that grew out of American folk music. The thing about folk music is you have to experience it live to really get ‘it’ and our family has watched Andy and his critters perform his music at the Scottish Rite Theater here in Austin and it was a magical experience. It’s a mash of puppetry mixed with folklore that mixes in bluegrass, folk, and a little bit of rock and roll. It’s a traditional album that feels new and because I have two little girls who love music as much as I do, we get to share an experience of folk together as a family when we watch or play Red Yarn.
As someone who wants to instill folk music in my children, Red Yarn has given us a wonderful way to bring my world of music to their new little ears. Red Yarn continues to perform hundreds of shows a year and you can find his family band playing at SXSW, Stagecoach Country Music Fest, Pickathon, Symphony Space, and Wolf Trap. If you are an Austinite like me, keep your eyes and ears open for Red Yarn’s latest show and Bill Childs from Austin’s KUTX ‘Spare the Rock, Spoil the Child‘ is sure to keep you updated on Andy’s latest adventures like during SXSW next month! Born in the Deep Woods will surely bring us as much movement and enjoyment as we get to revisit the Deep Woods once again in person. The girls’ enjoy ‘Mockingbird’ and ‘Crawdad’ (which was always a word I loved, too!) and Bob and I have our favorites and when I listen I almost feel like I’m back in Wayne Forest again as my mom gently strums on her guitar. Beautiful!
- Born in the Deep Woods
- Old Mother Goose
- Birdies’ Ball
- Mr. Gamble
- Rabbit in a Log
- Little Baby Born Today
- Leatherwing Bat
- Deep Woods Revisited
- Born Again
- Old Black Dog
Andy lives in North Portland with his wife and singing partner Jessie Eller-Isaacs (a teacher coach at Open School), their two young children, and a basement full of critters.
Watch Red Yarn! In December 2014, Red Yarn premiered The Deep Woods: Episode I, the pilot episode of a potential TV/web series based on his magical animal world. Directed by filmmaker Jeff Speetjens and funded in part by the Regional Arts & Culture Council, Episode I uses songs from the first album to tell the story of Red first discovering the Deep Woods.
Hire Red Yarn! Red Yarn offers musical puppet shows for schools, libraries, community events and birthday parties. He includes a lot of audience participation, energy and movement in his 30-45 minute sets filled with folksongs, puppetry and storytelling. Check out the link here if you are interested in having Red Yarn entertain your group!
List Price: $ 12.00 ($9.00 for digital download)