The cracks, they have widened. Not because of a seismic shift, but rather, due to tiny, incremental decisions sometimes made quickly. I tend to do that a lot as I move from this to that and so on. It’s exciting, has its positives, but things can be missed.
I get a lot of music sent to me by artists and PR reps and record labels hoping I will listen and write a few words here or there, or maybe spin a track on the OWTK podcast. So much music arrives that it is practically impossible for me listen to it all, let alone write about a good % of it. A decent problem to have, for me, no doubt, but a shitty circumstance for the artists, PR reps and labels. This is the main reason I am advocating for more voices in the arena, more mom and dad bloggers with a passion for music, for family and for the written word, to cover the Golden Age of Family Music.
Sometimes, the wrapper never comes off a CD. Honest, but true, and so I go about my day knowing full well that my quick decisions made over cover art or the ho-hum opening salvo of the opening track, mean that I will miss some good stuff. This then is the start of what I hope will be a new series, however sporadic, where I discuss briefly some of the music I missed the first time around. The reasons will be varied but the point will ultimately be the same: I passed on music at the time, discovered it later, and was hit by…something — a live performance, a deeper cut I never got to, a friend’s recommendation to go back and hear it again for the first time with fresh ears, or a quick conversation. That’s exactly what lead me back to Red Yarn. Here’s the story of a piece of fine music I missed, but found, and now adore.
I was strolling the grounds of Kindiecomm in Philadelphia a bit ago when a dapper young bearded fella approached and introduced himself as Andy Furgeson. He flew in from Portland, Oregon for the event and said that he just wanted to say hey to me and thank me for writing about kid’s music. Not his, mind you, I never had. He was sweet, personable and didn’t try to shove a CD in my hand or sell me on his story. Just a pleasant hello and brief conversation about whatever. I told him my family was heading to his hometown in the near future and he didn’t even go as far as to try to convince me to attend one of his concerts while there. Here was a guy I could like with an approach I could love. It all made me want to go back and listen to an album I tried to give a chance when it first arrived, but for whatever reason, be it me being into more poppy sounds at the time, grumpy that day, or what have you, it did not connect with me. That all changed later on the following evening when I played Red Yarn’s haunting and exhilarating album The Deep Words on repeat through Andy’s Bandcamp page. I stayed up past 1am listening to that dapper bearded fella bellow and coo very old songs with an intoxicating blend of Conor Oberst’s scowl and urgency, and Pete Seeger’s love and full-throated authenticity.
I immediately searched and fingers-crossed-hoped to find if and when and where Red Yarn might be playing while we were in Portland. I HAD to see this guy perform songs like “Rattlesnake” and “Froggie Went-A-Courtin'” live. I mean, I haven’t wanted to listen to “Froggie” in nearly a decade and here I was trying to make that part of my family’s one and only full day in Portland, Oregon while on vacation. THAT is how powerful Red Yarn’s take on it is. It all worked out for us in Portland, as Andy had a pair of Red Yarn shows booked on that full day we’d be in town and so we thankfully bore witness to his passion, his sweat, his puppets, and his deft ability to adapt dusty animal-centric traditionals with a hearty foot stomp for modern families. I am sorry I missed The Deep Woods when it first arrived at my door, but happy that the door to discovery hadn’t slammed shut.