Saturday, October 20 — The Stray Birds
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Birds of a feather flock together, and that is how The Stray Birds hope to soar.
Having each spent time flying solo in the music world, the members of the Americana roots trio came together through the mutual love of their craft, and a desire to create a unique sound full of three-part harmonies.
“We sort of found each other in the right time and place,” says fiddle player Maya de Vitry.
The Stray Birds will make their way to Frederick on Friday for a show at Café Nola that will feature music off their soon-to-be released debut album.
The trio grew up a few miles apart in Lancaster County, Pa., where de Vitry played in the high school orchestra with bassist Charlie Muench. Flashing forward to 2010, Muench met fiddle player Oliver Craven in a short-lived bluegrass band, and introduced him to de Vitry, who had just returned from France, where she had been making a living as a street performer.
While busking with her violin across the United States, Canada and Europe, de Vitry had begun to write her own songs, but things didn’t fall into place until she met Craven, who encouraged her songwriting.
“We have similar values as far as music goes,” says de Vitry, 21. “We love harmony singing, and that’s one thing I think sets the band apart, is the attention we put on arranging the songs to really fit the songs.”
Both multi-instrumentalists, Craven and de Vitry took the lead on The Stray Birds’ 2010 EP “Borderland,” on which Muench was featured on just three tracks, because he was still working on his music education degree at West Chester University. After graduating, Muench decided to put teaching on hold and play with the group full time.
“I decided I wanted to play music out of college. This was not only an awesome opportunity, but I consider it more of an honor playing with these guys and their awesome original music,” says Muench, 23.
Muench has played upright bass in a variety of different styles, including jazz, big band and Latin music, but found that he really resonated with the sound of The Stray Birds.
“I think it’s the acoustic sound that really draws me in,” he says. “It’s sort of a social gathering. Everyone has their instrument in a circle and there is no electronics, there is just the wood and the strings.”
Muench thinks The Stray Birds’ strength lies in the organic craftsmanship of their songs, starting with the raw material that either de Vitry or Craven brings to the table.
“We hear the song and it’s a one-time thing,” he says. “We just go at it and attack the song and try to come up with interesting bass lines and how the bass fits with whatever those guys are playing. … We just try things and sculpt the arrangement out of the marble, so to say.”
Craven, who grew up playing in a family band with his parents, previously played with Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Adrienne Young and Virginia-based American band The Steel Wheels. After years spent touring and recording with other groups, Craven was ready to leave his own mark on the music world and has enjoyed being able to craft The Stray Birds’ sound.
“We like to be able to be as subtle as we can with our sound,” says Craven, 26. “It spans from the subtle and intimate to being something that’s upbeat and makes you want to clap your hands and sing along.”
He believes the band sets itself apart with how well its members communicate with each other both during the creative process and while on stage.
“We don’t want to get too big, we’re not trying to headline Bonnaroo; we want to just keep playing our music for people,” he says. “As long as people are watching and listening … that’s how we like it.”
by Cody Calamaio