Calgary talent takes the stage
From Birch to Yew showcases their talent at The Hub
After the Students’ Association of Mount Royal University (SAMRU) released the results of the election at The Hub on March 6, the venue immediately switched gears to What’s On Stage Wednesday? This time, the stage was home to local folk group, From Birch to Yew.
Under the moniker of From Birch to Yew, singer-songwriter Norika Yue has already released a full-length album, Whisper in the Trees, but what started out as a solo project has now become a full four-piece band. Now, From Birch to Yew is made up of Yue on vocals and guitar, Lyon Beckers on bass, Kelsey Noble on flute and Jeff Oman on drums. Yue credits luck for bringing the group together.
“I definitely have been humbled quite a bit,” said Yue of moving from solo to group act. “These guys tell me the truth. I can now come with more of a vague idea rather than trying to figure out all these instrumentalizations by myself.”
Their sound ranges from mellow acoustic folk to quicker, more upbeat tracks and include a wide variety of styles. They also have a unique make-up considering it’s not common to see a flutist in a folk group.
“I’m probably the newest to the whole equation,” said Noble. “I’m classically trained completely, so it’s been weird, but exciting and awesome to work with everybody.”
Noble’s addition to the band, however, only works to add layers to From Birch to Yew’s sound that sets them apart from the typical folk group. Their style is dynamic, as well, with a seamless transition from bluegrass, Brazilian, and acoustic styles.
While the group got together mostly at the University of Calgary, Oman came out of Mount Royal’s soon-to-be-ending Jazz Performance Credit Program.
“The jazz program at Mount Royal was pretty much the most influential thing in my life. Aside from just helping me learn jazz, it helped me learn just basic life skills. It’s been great just learning how to focus on how to set goals and achieve them. It’s a wonderful program, and I’m really upset that it’s going down the drain, but that’s the way it is,” said Oman.
“I think a cliché thing is it to think of the drummer as just laying down the beat. When it comes down to it, [Oman] is a big part of our sound and he’s a big part of our writing process,” said Yue. “His background within that jazz program has been a big part of our sound as well.”
At this particular show at The Hub, From Birch to Yew delivered a solid set.
Reeling from the high levels of energy in the room after the SAMRU election results — which were announced earlier that night — and with the crowd already warmed up by the opening act, Well Mannered Thieves, From Birch to Yew took the stage. They definitely held their own with a level of professionalism and artistry that typically comes from acts that have been together much longer. Keeping the crowd at The Hub engaged in their music seemed all too easy for the band, and they delivered a clean, fun, well-performed set.
From Birch to Yew is definitely an up-and-coming act that has a bright future. The group is working to release a new album, get some merchandise available, and are ready to build their band from the ground up.
“I want it to happen old school. I don’t really want to go on YouTube and be like, ‘Hey, check us out!’ and just post a thousand videos,” said Yue. “I want it to be about the music.”