Children's music has acts that stress danceable tunes. It also has groups that want to rock and roll. But there's only one kids' performer who wants to party like it's 1925 – that would be Red Yarn (Andy Furgeson). Andy takes the wholesome, fulsome sound of the pre-Great Depression Dust Bowl and brings it back to three-dimensional, full-color life, as on his fifth CD, RED YARN'S OLD BARN. And hey, his videos have puppets, too.
Conceived post-Trump 2016 Election Night, Andy dreamed of "a barn with doors open wide" for all to enter. Over the next 18 months he built that barn, with assistance from producer Dean Jones (you know that guy) and engineer Adam Selzer. OLD BARN features Andy's mix of repurposed traditional songs with a batch of new numbers that snugly fit into his previously-released milieu.
Red Yarn delivers an appealing "corncob and critters" sound, this time married to the concept of a hootenanny at the local farm. It helps that, to most children without a discerning ear, Andy's vocals come with a sui generis lack of regional accent. Adults with a lack of empathy for this kind of material may start to meander after "Old Barn," "Barn Dance," "Barn Fire," and finally "To Raise a Barn."
Andy covers "Sally Ann," an Appalachian folk song captured by Alan Lomax, dedicating it to his new baby daughter. "Barn Dance" is an updated version of an 1880's cowboy dance also memorialized by Lomax. Jazzy Ash drops by to duet on a lively rendition of Ella Jenkins' "Did You Feed My Cow?"
I've alternately been asked by people "What's the point of children's music?" and "What children's music do you point to?" Red Yarn provides an affirmative, living answer to both questions. Andy exhibits the concept that if you play music from previous generations as if it's brand new, children will never, ever realize it's "old." Nonwithstanding its title, RED YARN'S OLD BARN proves the hills, valleys, ranches, and farms are still alive.
RED YARN'S OLD BARN is available April 27 from Red Yarn's website, Amazon, iTunes, Soundcloud, and Bandcamp.
Here is the video for the CD's title track: