The Stray Birds have been flying high since the 2012 release of their critically acclaimed self-titled album. Two years, hundreds of gigs, and thousands of highway miles later, the genre-melding acoustic trio prepares to make its Yep Roc Records debut. Known for their songwriting, instrumental virtuosity and gorgeous three-part harmony singing, their most cohesive and ambitious album to date, Best Medicine, is ready for release.
The band – multi-instrumentalists and vocalists Maya de Vitry, Oliver Craven, and Charlie Muench – hails from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. All three are classically-trained musicians who’ve been making music of all kinds since childhood (before they reconnected through the local music scene, de Vitry and Muench first met in middle school orchestra); however, they were also all raised with a steady diet of music ranging from pioneers like The Carter Family and Bill Monroe & His Blue Grass Boys to the joyous invention of The Beatles and The Band, to the groundbreaking artistry of Jimi Hendrix.
After college, Craven was playing with Muench in a bluegrass band called River Wheel when he and de Vitry first met. Craven and de Vitry began sharing their original songs with one another, playing local open mics, and busking regularly at Lancaster’s Central Market. In an effort to preserve their songs before an impending parting, the pair recorded the Borderland EP in a friend’s basement studio in 2010. Muench appeared as a guest bassist on a few tracks.
The trio, who roots music site No Depression praised as “a band destined for global success,” received rave reviews at the 2014 Celtic Connections Festival in Scotland and followed that appearance with a number of sold-out dates in England and Ireland; they plan to return to the UK for a string of shows in September of this year.
The new album’s title track, “Best Medicine,” was inspired by a trip to Schenectady, New York, a town with a lively record store amidst countless abandoned storefronts. This juxtaposition, along with the fascinating life story of the record shop’s proprietor, led de Vitry to pen the lyrics, “You never know the gold you can find out there / ‘Til you put the needle down and do some digging in the air…if the body is a temple, the soul is a bell/ And that’s why music is the best medicine I sell.”
Supporting the release of Best Medicine, The Stray Birds are touring for much of 2015, bringing their stunning harmonies and lyrics to theaters, venues, and festivals across the country and world.