You might expect a band that calls itself Yarn to, naturally, tend to spin a yarn or two. “That’s what we do, we tell stories, live and in the studio, truth and fiction”,singer/songwriter Blake Christiana insists. “We don’t always opt for consistency. There’s a different vibe onstage from what comes through in our recordings. There’s a difference in every show as well, you never know what you’re going to get.”
Yarn’s ability to persevere ought to come as no great surprise, especially for a band that spent two years honing their chops during a Monday night residency at the famed Kenny’s Castaway in New York’s Greenwich Village. In effect, it allowed them to rehearse onstage, mostly in front of audiences that often ranged in size from five to a hundred people on any given night. 10 studio albums followed — Yarn (2007), Empty Pockets (2008), Leftovers Part One (2009), Come On In (2010), Leftovers Part 2 (2011), Almost Home (2012), Shine the Light On (2013), This Is The Year (2016), and Lucky 13 parts 1 & 2 (2019). The band then took to the road, playing upwards of 170 shows a year and sharing stages with such superstars as Dwight Yoakam, Charlie Daniels, Railroad Earth, Marty Stuart, Allison Krauss, Leon Russell, Jim Lauderdale, Leftover Salmon, Amos Lee, The Lumineers and many more. They performed at any number of prestigious venues — Mountain Stage, Daytrotter, the Orange Peel in Asheville, the Fox Theater in Boulder, the 9:30 Club in D.C, South by Southwest, the Strawberry Festival, Rhythm and Roots, Meadowgrass, Floydfest and so much more, eventually surpassing 1,000 shows, half a million miles and performances in nearly every state. They’ve driven nonstop, made countless radio station appearances, driven broken-down RVs and watched as their van caught fire. They’ve paid their dues and then some, looking forward even as they were forced to glance behind.
Indeed, the accolades piled up quickly along the way. They have landed on the Grammy ballot 4 times, garnered nods from the Americana Music Association, placed top five on both Radio and Records and the AMA album charts, garnered airplay on Sirius XM, iTunes, Pandora, CNN, and CMT, been streamed millions of times on Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon, and also accorded the “Download of the Day” from Rolling Stone. Shine the Light On found shared songwriting credits with John Oates (the Oates of Hall & Oates fame), and when audiences expressed their admiration, it brought the band a populist cult following of diehard devotees, popularly known as “the Yarmy.”
It’s proof positive that the Brooklyn and Raleigh based band have made their mark, and in dealing with their emotions, scars and circumstances, they find themselves in a position to share those experiences with others who have juggled similar sentiments.
As Yarn look forward to their next 2 studio releases in 2023, Blake looks to establish himself more as the songwriter he’s always been, and not the pseudo bluegrass band, bar band or jam band, that Yarn often gets immediately lumped into. Although all those elements of music exist in the Yarn catalogue and their live performances, Blake’s number one priority is and always has been “the song”. These next 2 releases are without a doubt Blake’s most personal, polished, and best of Yarn’s career so far.
The beginning of the journey to these 2 albums began around April of 2022 when Blake booked a solo show at The Down Home in Johnson City, TN (a nod to Townes Van Zandt’s 1986 live show there and ultimate release) with the intention of making a live record. But he wanted it to be songs none of the fans and attendees had ever heard before. The problem was he hadn’t written most of them yet. He was at his crossroads, uninspired, bored, exhausted and fairly insecure about his entire career up to that point. But he got to work, and got more inspired with each new song he wrote. These songs all tell a story individually but they also tell a story as a whole, a songwriter and musician ready to dive deeper into the music and the art for a greater result that he believes most anyone can appreciate, relate to and enjoy.