Catching Up with “Red Yarn”

Catching Up with “Red Yarn”
May 15, 2024

Knitting Together Puppetry, Music, and Social Justice

Red Yarn to Perform at Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods July 10, 2024;
 Children’s Performer “Red Yarn” Makes Social Issues Relevant to Young Audiences

Puppetry and music have gone hand-in-hand in storytelling even before “Sesame Street.” Andy Furgeson takes this medium to a whole new level with his bard-like persona, Red Yarn. In his folk-rock music, whimsical online video content, and boot-stomping live performances, Red Yarn strives to create inclusion and unity for future generations. 

“The topics of my songs are deliberate,” says Furgeson, who resides in Oregon with his wife and musical partner, Ms. Jessie, and their two children. “I gravitate toward telling stories with an underlying message.”

In 2010, Furgeson chose the stage name “Red Yarn” as a symbol of his love for folk music, puppetry, and a comical nod to his own bright-red beard. Taking inspiration from all kinds of American music, including rock-n-roll, folk, and country, all ten of Red Yarn’s albums reflect the vast cultural roots of the melting-pot country. Many of his recorded works also feature artists who specialize in other genres like jazz, reggae, hip-hop, and funk. In 2022, after a long and rewarding collaborative process, Red Yarn released an album in collaboration with frequent Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods performer Aaron Nigel Smith. The blend of the seemingly incongruous genres throughout their album reflects the lyrical themes of friendship, activism, and togetherness.

“During the pandemic, we were sharing a live-stream studio, and he [Smith] pitched the idea of making a ‘country reggae’ album. We started by jamming and trying to find all the sonic and thematic similarities between reggae and country, funk and folk,” Furgeson explains. “With our voices and guitars as a common thread, we were somehow able to create a cohesive sound.”
In addition to his music, Red Yarn has also gained a following for his inventive puppetry work in the videos for his popular YouTube Channel. During the pandemic, he took time to elevate his online content even further, including a livestream series with new songs and themes each week. To produce his videos, Furgeson starts with a creative concept, involving his crew of puppet critters. Usually, he says, when he begins writing, he has already envisioned how his animal cast will play into a song. From there, the set, props, and any new puppets are built, often in Furgeson’s own backyard. Film shooting takes several days to complete, and then the footage is edited together into a finalized product. 

Though the production process is lengthy, Furgeson believes puppetry is a natural tool for social-emotional learning and creating joyful, engaging content for families—including his own. As a father to a 7- and 10-year-old, the focus of his music has evolved. He frames his music around his children’s perspectives on life and includes them in the steps of Red Yarn’s creations, such as the songwriting process, recordings, video shoots, and performances. He says the topics of his songs have grown up alongside his two children.   

“I’ve found that music and puppetry are wonderful means of addressing challenging issues with children– racial justice, consent culture, inclusion, the climate crisis,” says Furgeson. “I try to use the naturally unifying effect of music to bring people together through singing and dancing. I have found that in an open, joyful performance setting, kids and families are excited to engage with social issues that affect them and their communities.” 

Families can experience Red Yarn and “the Get-Together” during the 2024 Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods season on Wednesday, July 10. Tickets can be purchased at To learn more about Red Yarn, go to


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