Brooklyn-based roots/country outfit YARN has been a stalwart on not only the New York scene, but throughout the country, with their incessentant touring schedule and impressive album turnout. Their latest effort, Leftovers Vol. 2, features a host of old songs that didn’t fit on earlier records. The Sitch chatted with band leader Blake Christiana for our latest TEN QUESTIONS…
1) What are the origins of Yarn (and where does the name come from)?
Our mandolin player originally had a dream, and saw the name Yarn on The Beacon Theater Marquis in New York City. We thought it would make a great name, at the time we were just an acoustic string band and I was writing story based songs, or spinning yarns as some people might say, so it stuck.
2) What are your biggest influences (personally and for the band in general)?
It’s hard to pin point our biggest influence — at the moment Paul Simon is my man — but that is constantly changing. When I started writing songs for this band, I was in the midst of a serious Gram Parsons listening binge. He only had 2 records so that didn’t last all that long but it definitely gave birth to some of the Yarn staples. I think the basis for starting the band came initially from that purple Garcia/Grisman acoustic disc. There is no way of wearing that record out for me, it was a big part of my youth, I loved that record and still do. Obviously our sound quickly grew out of any sort of traditional bluegrass — I don’t think you could have ever called us that honestly.
3) How would you describe the Yarn’s sound?
This is always hard. It’s country, it’s rock, people like to call it Americana these days. I don’t care what you call it as long as it moves you. We do it because we love it, and we get to keep doing it because other people love it, and that is pretty damn cool, so call it whatever you want.
4) If you weren’t based in Brooklyn, where would you live?
I actually moved out of Brooklyn last year, I wasn’t in town enough to justify paying those bills. I live part time on a dairy farm in New Tripoli, PA and part time just outside of Raleigh, NC. But the rest of the band still lives in or near the city. There’s a lot of places I could see myself living, I love Charlottesville, VA, Charleston, SC, and the mountains of North Carolina. I also love the part of PA I am in as well as Raleigh. Great people in all these towns and great people go a long way.
5) What is your favorite venue to play?
That’s tough. There are completely different types of love for different types of venues. Some of the best listening rooms we’ve played in are Godfrey Daniels in Bethlehem, PA and McGonigel’s Mucky Duck in Houston, TX; these are great rooms for pouring our hearts out and knowing people are going to listen. Then there’s the theaters, my current favorite is The Historic Blairstown Theater in Blairstown, NJ, we are doing our New Years Eve show this year. You can really put both feet forward in these types of rooms. Then there’s the bars and rock clubs, we love The Lincoln in Raleigh and The Pour House in Charleston, SC. Those are the down and dirty shows, we just rock it out, not a whole lot room for ballads. But it doesn’t get much more fun then the festival season, especially the real music loving ones like Floydfest and Bristol Rhythm & Roots. Another festival highlight of last season was The Catskill Chill in Hancock, NY, the crowd really came through and we had some real fun.
6) What is your favorite music store (either for recordings or instruments)?
I love hitting the used vinyl stores on the road, it’s all i’m listening to these days. Grimey’s in Nashville is great.
7) What artist or album can you not stop listening to lately?
8) What is your favorite drink?
That changes, last year it was bourbon, the year before that tequila, right now I’m drinking lots of Firefly Vodka, we love that stuff. Although Ricky B. and I just made up a shot a few weeks ago called the ‘Artie Johnson’, it’s 2 parts cheap rail tequila, one part pepperoncini juice. It’s amazing.
9) If you could live in any decade, when would it be?
60’s Greenwich Village. Hanging with Simon, Garfunkel, Lou Reed, Dylan, that would be freaking cool.
10) What would be your last meal in New York?
I used to love eating at a place in my neighborhood called 9D, great Thai food.