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A Boy and His Thumbs

The quality of a story’s substance isn’t necessarily the meat or the grit — sometimes it’s how a person chooses to tell it. Danny Yarborough of pop rock group Danny Fingers and the Thumbs chooses music as his creative medium and, boy howdy, does he have a story to tell.

Before taking music seriously, Yarborough was a stand-up comedian in his hometown of Houston in the early 2000s. “I fell into song writing through procrastinating rehearsing for my stand-up,” he says. He then found his niche in making music that he describes as “narrative pop rock.” 

Yarborough began churning out songs that encapsulate his daily life with upbeat and simple brevity. This ranges from meeting a cute barista in San Francisco to handing a mix tape to renowned songwriter Rufus Wainright in front of the Chelsea Hotel.

His band mates (the Thumbs) came into his life as serendipitously as his song material. “One of the beautiful things about New York City is that you’re constantly surrounded by people,” he says. “However you choose to put yourself out there, it gets mirrored back to you.”

Yarborough searched for his perfect thumbs on subways, at coffee shops and at open band rehearsals in the city. At last, through vim and determination, he found them: Ben Curtis (vocals, harmonica), Zak Gross (guitar), Robbie Frost (guitar, bass) and Jonathon Crowley (drums).

Together, Yarborough and the Thumbs create a pop-rock sound that entwines storytelling with harmonies and chord progressions influenced by “oldies” music. The band has put out two full-length albums and is on the brink of recording a third, which Yarborough says will be narrowed down to a meager 30 songs. When inspiration strikes, he explains, there’s no point in constricting the creative flow.

Danny Fingers (minus the Thumbs for this performance) plays 8:30 pm Thursday, May 4, at the Axe and Fiddle in Cottage Grove. Free.