When you first listen to Elena perform, you’ll probably wonder from which old folk record or songbook she dug her repertoire. Elena Yeung taps into timeless themes of the human condition, echoing the roots of folk, bluegrass and mountain traditions while emphasizing her driving banjo style.
Born and raised in the farming community of Carberry, Manitoba by immigrant parents from Hong Kong, Yeung wandered across Canada over the past decade, living in Regina, SK, Kingston, ON, St. John’s, NL, and even briefly in Inuvik, NWT, before settling most recently in the far reaches of interior British Columbia, in an old farmhouse with the howl of the coyotes and the occasional ghost story to keep her company.
Following the 2008 release of The Gravedigger’s Daughter, Yeung toured across Canada and has performed at Dawson City Music Festival, Coombs Bluegrass Festival, Kaslo Jazz Etc. Festival, the Salmon Arm Roots & Blues Festival, and most recently the Lunenberg Folk Harbour Festival.
Released in November 2011, Dandelion showcases Yeung’s ability to once again capture the sound of the classic American folk song, beginning with familiar bluegrass themes but also exploring earlier influences including old-time piano waltzes and swing. In a dramatic departure from her typical bluegrass instrumentation, the track Gonna Build Me A Boat follows the tradition of the negro spiritual, sung in a cappella with The Persuasions. Playful themes of a rural childhood, accompanied by infectious sing-along melodies strike a chord with listeners of all ages.
Elena is joined by Karl Sommerfeld on fiddle and vocals, presenting an energetic fiddle/banjo duo including a sample of traditional instrumental pieces. Steve Jones (bass) and Keith Larsen (guitar, vocals) complete the full band line-up.
Reviews for The Gravedigger’s Daughter:
“…She plays a mean banjo and sets her searing vocals on the age-old themes of murder and heartbreak…This is a nice little debut for a voice that just might be on the verge of finding its place in the world” – Exclaim! magazine
“…this album could get you through the end of a long Canadian winter” – Penguin Eggs
“…Yeung nails the old-timey/bluegrass genre to the wall. (The Gravedigger’s Daughter) shows off a fine songwriter and banjo player” – The Province
Reviews for Dandelion:
“Absolutely SUPER!...Why don’t each and everyone of you reading this get a copy of ‘Dandelion’ and you’ll be in on one of Canada’s best kept secrets” – Prescriptionbluegrass.com