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Live on the Levee ends this week with Yarn and The Company Stores

By Zack Harold, Life editor
COURTESY PHOTO
Yarn, a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based roots band led by Blake Christiana, will close out the 2014 Live on the Levee concert series this Friday.
COURTESY PHOTO Blake Christiana, frontman and principal songwriter for the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based band Yarn

When Blake Christiana began making Americana music, he didn’t know there was such a thing as Americana music.

He really liked 1970s country rocker Gram Parsons and he knew about Ryan Adams’ “Gold” album. But other than that, his knowledge of modern roots music was pretty limited.

“As far as knowing there was this whole movement, I had no idea,” he said.

That’s kind of funny now, since Christiana’s band Yarn has become a fixture on the roots scene.

The Brooklyn, N.Y.-based group will headline this week’s Live on the Levee at Haddad Riverfront Park in downtown Charleston.

Growing up, Christiana listened to artists like Ricky Nelson, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and the Grateful Dead.

He began playing in rock bands as he got older.

“It was a little more chaotic and less organized,” he said. “We would let anyone come up and play with us, get as wasted as we could and try to forget about the work week.”

He eventually got tired of that, however. He wanted to tighten up his sound and get a little more serious.

So Christiana began writing acoustic music that sounded more like the country and folk music he heard as a kid.

In 2007 he landed a regular gig at a club in Greenwich Village. He did not have a regular rhythm section at the time, however, so he brought in new musicians each night to back him up.

He eventually picked the musicians he worked best with and formed Yarn.

“We basically rehearsed in front of a live audience.”

In the seven years since that time, the band has become known for its foot-stomping live shows and earned a dedicated fanbase known as “the Yarmy.”

They released a new critically-acclaimed album “Shine the Light On” last September featuring two songs co-written with John Oates of Hall and Oates.

The band is already nearly finished with their next record, however.

They recently clocked 90 hours over five days in a Virginia recording studio, ending up with 16 new songs.

Christiana said he wanted to capture the feeling of a live show. So instead of having each band member record their parts separately, the whole group played each song together in the studio.

“We didn’t even know if it was going to be takes we wanted,” he said. “I went in with no expectations.

“We weren’t trying to get a certain number of songs done.”

Then Christiana noticed the recordings started sounding really good.

“Then I started really working really hard,” he said.

He doesn’t know when the new album will be released — the tracks still need some tweaking — but Christiana said the band likely will play some of the new songs during their concert here on Friday.

“We love your town. We can’t wait to have another cocktail at the Red Carpet Lounge,” he said.

This will be the final Live on the Levee of the 2014 season.

Local folk fusion band The Company Stores will serve as the opening act. They will take the stage at 6:30 p.m., followed by Yarn at 7:30 p.m.

For more information, visit www.liveontheleveecharleston.com.

The Company Stores also will release their first studio album, “Rollin’ In,” at Friday’s concert.

The album was recorded earlier this year with the help of former REM producer Don Dixon.

Copies will be available at Live on the Levee. You can also pick up a copy at Swiftwater General Store on Capitol St.

Contact writer Zack Harold at 304-348-4830 or zack.harold@dailymailwv.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ZackHarold.


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