Smith and Yarn — Americana Highways’ Key to the Highway series
Americana Highways’ Key to the Highway series Fans always clamor to learn more about their favorite, most beloved musicians and those who travel with them. There’s such an allure to the road, with its serendipity, inevitable surprises, and sometimes unexpected discomforts. This interview series is a set of questions we are asking some of our favorite roots rock Americana artists to get to know more about them and what they’ve learned and experienced on the road. We are sure they have key insights to share and stories to tell. Here’s one from Smith and Yarn.
Americana Highways: How do you like your coffee or other morning wake-up beverage?
ANDY FURGESON aka RED YARN: I like my coffee FIRST THING in the morning. With a splash of cream and a pinch of sugar. This is always a very important consideration when I’m on the road – where am I going to get my coffee when I wake up? As long as I’ve figured that much out, I can sleep easy.
AH: What’s the most interesting or strangest motel/hotel or place you have stayed (while on the road for music?)
AARON NIGEL SMITH: I once accepted a gig in Atikokan, Cananda on the way to play the Winnipeg Folk Festival. The venue was an old elementary school. The presenters had us stay at the school instead of a standard hotel or motel. It was pretty trippy to be in an old abandoned school in the middle of the night. I think they gave us blow up mattress too! Super funny tour date.
AH: If one CD is stuck in the player in the van for the entire tour, what do you hope it is? And why?
ANDY: In the spirit of my collaboration with Aaron, I’m going to bend the rules a bit and choose two CDs, one folk/country and one reggae. For a folk/country CD, I’d have to choose Townes Van Zandt’s High, Low and In Between. To me, that album perfectly sums up the creative life, with all of its joys and sorrows, moments of inspiration and creative ruts. For a reggae CD, I’d choose the soundtrack to The Harder They Come by Jimmy Cliff. This album was my introduction to roots reggae as a youngster, and really captures some of the outlaw spirit that reggae shares with classic country.
AH: What’s one personal item you must have with you on your road trip?
AARON: One essential for me is my Pro tools USB login key. Always want to be ready when inspiration hits. I also tend to get a bunch of editing and mixing done at 2am when I can’t sleep at a hotel in any given city.
AH: What is your relationship with food? How do you handle this on the road, and what’s your favorite dish on the road, (or restaurant, and what do you order there)?
ANDY: My relationship with food is that I LOVE IT! I’m pretty omnivorous and am perfectly happy with a fast and cheap meal or a slow, organic feast. So I’m easy to please on the road. While my stomach might disagree with some of my more indulgent eating choices, my mouth is happy with any greasy spoon, local joint, hole-in-the-wall, foodie spot, or freeway chain you got… as long as there’s good people-watching too.
AH: If you could pause your life for a few weeks and spend some time living in a place you only have passed through, which would you choose, and why?
AARON: It would be really interesting for me to spend a good amount of time in Marbella, Spain. I spent a couple nights there on tour with the Albert McNeil Jubilee Singers and remember really enjoying the vibe. It was a stone’s throw from the continent of Africa. The food, live music, and people were awesome! I remember thinking that I could live in Marbella as the bus drove us off to the next city.
AH: What quote or piece of advice have you gotten from someone on the road that has really stuck with you?
ANDY: A wise and wizened musician friend once told me to say yes to whatever invitations come your way on the road. That’s when the best adventures happen, from the unexpected connections at the unplanned destinations. Use your good judgment of course, but be open to experiences you wouldn’t necessarily try in the comfort of your normal routine. Find all things Smith & Yarn, here: https://smithandyarn.com
See other Key to the Highway interviews here: https://americanahighways.org/category/interviews/key-to-the-highway-series/ (click here for: Jimmy Smith Ben Nichols Bruce Cockburn Charlie Musselwhite Nicki Bluhm Jim White Danny Barnes Patterson Hood Jerry Joseph BJ Barham Rodney Crowell Todd Snider Elizabeth Cook Tommy Womack Eric Ambel, Dan Baird, Robbie Fulks, Malcolm Holcombe Jon Langford Steve Poltz, Lilly Hiatt Sarah Shook & the Disarmers Sadler Vaden )
Sign up for our weekly newsletter here for your Friday reminder for this series and more: