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Yearning for Yorn

Rock singer plays Little Rock for first time at the Village.


YORN: At the Village.
  • YORN: At the Village.

Pete Yorn, having never played in Arkansas before, understands that the regular music fan in the Capital City might not know what to expect from a typical Yorn show.

“It’s pretty much a full set of rock ’n’ roll, a rock show with a full band,” he said as he was heading to Austin recently for a show there. “I kind of cover the bulk of the material off three of my albums, and do some covers for good measure. I’ll just go with what I’m feeling. I don’t make a set list before I go out. I just deliver them.”

Yorn is a favorite of critics and other writers who cover music for Paste and Rolling Stone magazines. He’s developed strong followings in the bigger markets out east.

But, thanks to Paste, which puts out a CD with every issue, and thanks to myspace.com and the Internet, an artist like Yorn, who might be only regionally known in the past, can be heard by fans in Arkansas who never get to see him live.

Which is why Yorn’s show Friday, Nov. 10, at the Village should draw a strong crowd to the new, spacious venue at Asher and University avenues, in the round building that for nearly 30 years was the Cinema 150 movie theater.

Showtime is 8 p.m. Tickets are $18 through www.etix.com.

Yorn is the son of a New Jersey dentist. And while his parents were surprised when he decided to try the rock world, they gave him support, he said.

“Early on, he never pushed me” toward dentistry or a similar career, Yorn said. “By the time he retired, he hated it. He said he couldn’t wait to get out of it.”

Instead, Yorn said, his father tried to convince him to become a tax lawyer. So, he started off majoring in accounting at Syracuse University in New York. “But after the first semester, I knew it wasn’t for me,” he said. “But music was.”

Playing in bands for fun suddenly became something Yorn could do every day. “If I thought I was going to be a musician solely, I wouldn’t have gone to college,” he said. “But when I was 21, I was writing so many songs and music was pulling me so strong.”

It seems as if Yorn has arrived overnight, but it took four years for him to land a record deal. “My mom said, ‘Maybe it’s time you got a real job,’ ” Yorn said. But the record deal came in 2000, and his first release arrived in March 2001, which led Rolling Stone to proclaim Yorn as one of the “10 to Watch” that year. “It got a lot of attention, and here I am still going for it. But the success I’ve had, any success is such a crap shoot.”

Creatively, Yorn said, he’s where he wants to be. He recently returned to the States from a tour of Australia and other parts of the world. “I feel very lucky, happy to be where I’m at. I just want to push myself creatively and make more records that are important, that give me that good feeling. That’s the main thing.”

Yorn is backed by a British group called Minibar.

“They’re friends that I’ve known for a few years,” he said. “I wanted to play with them, we started to play together and they were great. They’re all great players, and they know the direction I want to take my songs. They rein me in.”

Yorn played most of the instruments on most of the cuts of his latest record, “Nightcrawler,” his first studio album in three years and the third in a trilogy of sorts that started with his first album, “musicforthemorningafter.”

Minibar picked up the complex songs quickly, he said, and some of the band members played on some of the newer cuts. Yorn’s voice at times on the record resembles U2’s Bono in its range and strength. It also often shows influences of Roy Orbison, Hank Snow, Bob Dylan and the Beach Boys.

In a live show, he said, the band allows the songs to have their own interpretation that differs from the record. “I have faith in them and I like their style enough and they understand my style enough to stay true to what I’m about.”

While Yorn seems to be a critical favorite, he said he doesn’t pay much attention to what has been written about him. “You can’t ride to the highs,” he said. “You can’t get too caught up with it.”


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