Red Yarn (aka Andy Furgeson) is a dynamic family performer based in Portland, Oregon who weaves folksongs and puppetry into engaging shows for all ages. With his energetic performances and lush folk-rock recordings, this red-bearded bard shares positive values while reinvigorating American folklore for younger generations.
Andy Furgeson was born and raised in Austin, Texas. As a kid he built tiny worlds with toys, clay and cardboard, bringing them to life through play and home movies. The child of a high school teacher and a social worker, he learned to value education and service. At his family’s downtown church he developed a love for community singing. In his high school punk band he discovered the visceral power of live music.
Drawn to national fantasies of the West, Andy left home for Pomona College in Claremont, California. He graduated in 2005 with a BA in Creative Writing (since he couldn’t major in leading a rowdy bluegrass band). Seeking to combine his passions for music and education, he moved to Portland, Oregon. He found a job atFriendly House afterschool program. He started a folk-rock band called Bark Hide and Horn. Over a few years, he became director of the afterschool program and his band made a name for itself locally and on tour.
In 2008, Andy began an exploration of animals in American folk music. He created a blog called Red Yarn to chronicle his folkloric research and growing interest in puppetry. He dove deep into the folk music catalog with his Lomax-a-Day and Songbag-a-Day projects, adapting and recording 60+ songs from classic anthologies. Red Yarn became Andy’s alter-ego, an itinerant bard and animal whisperer with a red beard as thick as the yarns he spins. He dreamt up the Deep Woods as a magic universe to contain all of his characters. He wrote darker songs about these characters for his ‘grown-up’ band, Scrimshander. By 2011, Andy was performing regularly at libraries, cafes and community events, and joined Young Audiences’ roster of teaching artists.
Since committing himself full time to Red Yarn in June 2012, Andy has performed 250 shows per year, taught music and puppetry to thousands of students, and touched the lives of countless families with his songs, puppets and positive messages. He is thrilled to synthesize his art and teaching into a viable career. With three albums, extensive touring, and a TV pilot under his belt, Red Yarn is taking his creative folklore project to a national scale.
Andy lives in North Portland with his wife and singing partner Jessie Eller-Isaacs (a teacher at Open Meadow Middle School) and their young son.