“One of the top ten Folk/Americana albums of 2012.” — NPR Music
“The reaction here has been stunning to be quite honest with you. There are few records that the entire staff all agree on. We have staff that have been here for a long time and like more traditional sounds, and we have younger folks who like Fleet Foxes etc….but this is truly one album we all sort of looked at each other and said 'wow'.” — Jason Moberg, music director, WUMB Boston
“They are brilliant performers with an easy stage presence and great audience rapport...They delivered a wonderful show and our audience loved them. I heard the comments 'phenomenal', 'brilliant', 'amazing' throughout the departing crowd...Also,they broke a 17 year record in CD sales.” — Beth Duquette, Ripton Community Coffeehouse, Ripton, VT
“The Stray Birds left a roomful of jaws dropped in amazement. They are superstars of new folk music."” — Paige Travis, Tennessee Shines Radio Show, WDVX
“Super-talented acoustic trio whose virtuosity doesn't get in the way of their soul. Rich vocal harmonies, tight acoustic arrangements, heart-wrenching songs.” — Fly Magazine
“'The Stray Birds' by the Stray Birds is one of the best albums I've heard in years from a band destined for global success.” — Alan Harrison, No Depression
“The Stray Birds, a folk-grass trio from rural Pennsylvania, are gaining traction for their self-titled debut, a collection that showcases the band members' kindred dedication to traditional American folk music. Pastoral and literate, the Stray Birds sing three-part harmonies over drowsy fiddle and gentle clawhammer banjo with obvious reverence to ancient forms. Yet the Birds are young enough to have absorbed a number of folk-rock idioms...let's hear it for Maya de Vitry, a genuine talent on all fronts as a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and singer. The sky's the limit.” — Steve Leftridge, PopMatters The Best of Americana of 2012
“There's more grace and artfulness, though, in exercising restraint, as The Stray Birds do beautifully on their self-titled debut. Clearly these are players with chops, songwriters with a fierce command of their craft. But they also seem to have a grip on when to lend a hand, and when to let the songs fly on their own. This record was certainly one of the finest debuts of the year from a band to watch.” — NPR Music Top 10 Folk & Americana Albums of 2012
“This Pennsylvania trio is a wonderful combination of musicianship and songwriting that fits well into any bluegrass, folk, or Americana setting.” Bluegrass Unlimited
“I've gone back to experience their recorded songs time and after time, and the magic is even more powerful on stage. The words are full of good poetry, and the rich American melody makes the lyrics soar through time.” — Sarah Craig, Director, Caffe Lena
“The Stray Birds are my new favorite band---awesome songs, deep feeling, dynamics, playing...the works! They knocked it out of the park at a recent gig I heard. Check them out---you'll thank me later.” — Matt Glaser, Artistic Director, American Roots Music Program, Berklee College of Music
“Five stars!” — John Starling, The Seldom Scene
“They're really my favorite find for the year. I absolutely LOVE their sound. Their CD is in my car stereo all the time!” — Cheryl Prashker, President of NERFA (Northeast Regional Folk Alliance)
“The Stray Birds bring a unique maturity to their record, with a real reverence for traditional folk, and a refreshing sense of intimacy to their original songs.” — Helen Leicht, WXPN
“The Stray Birds gave a great performance. Their acoustical ability alone can carry a show, but top that off with smooth harmonies and great story telling it makes for a wonderful evening.” — Janis Blanton, President of the Bartlesville Community Concert Association
When The Stray Birds take the stage, the spotlight falls on three voices raised in harmony above the raw resonance of wood and strings. It is a sound drawn from the richness of American folk music traditions, spun with a stirring subtlety and grace. From bustling street corners to silent halls, their performances speak to an uncompromising reverence for songs.
Raised within a few miles of farmland from each other in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, their flight began with friendship. With miles of music already behind them, Maya de Vitry and Oliver Craven first shared a song in January 2010. A snowy Pennsylvania winter welcomed collaboration between the two creative flames— and inspired the collection of seven songs found on the Borderland EP. Grounded in the unshakeable groove of bassist Charles Muench, the trio landed their signature sound.
An ambitious touring schedule reflects their embrace of the experience of live music. "Music exists in a time and place, not just in a digital format," says Charles. Reveling in the energy of each room, a connection to the audience is the essence of their show.
Their tangible passion for acoustic music is certainly a testament to three musically rich childhoods. Shortly after beginning classical violin lessons, Oliver began performing on the fiddle alongside his parents in the Craven Family Band. Their repertoire of folk, bluegrass, and country tunes included many of his father's original songs. Maya first performed during "show & tell" in kindergarten. She strummed three chords on a tiny guitar and sang Iris DeMent's "Our Town"—a song in frequent rotation in the family car. She took piano lessons with her grandmother, who was a gifted composer. And alongside public school violin lessons, she learned fiddle tunes from her father, who performed in several local bands. The highlight of each year was the family's annual trip to West Virginia's Appalachian String Band Music Festival.
Inspired by his bass-playing father, Charles started bass lessons in a public elementary school string program. As he gained fluency on this large and versatile instrument, his passion and interest in music education heightened—culminating in a Music Education degree from West Chester University. In the midst of this classical music education, Charles found another musical outlet—a weekly bluegrass pick in the woodshed of a nearby horse farm. "When the bridge wasn't out, it was only 4 or 5 miles to Joe's house," Charles remembers. While his college music courses focused on the technical and theoretical aspects of music, "playing music with Joe was more about the spirit—and the social nature of music." Joe also called upon Charles to work up another skill that he would carry with him—bluegrass harmony singing.
Drawn to a region saturated by traditional music, Maya began at the University of North Carolina-Asheville, but left after one restless semester. During her travels through Europe as a fiddling street performer, she was startled by the poetry she discovered in the songs of Townes Van Zandt and began listening to songs with fresh intent. For someone who had loved songs for as long as she could remember, "suddenly, writing songs seemed inevitable," she says. She spent a year and a half at Berklee College of Music in Boston, where she studied under Mark Simos, Darol Anger, and John McGann. She has since received national recognition for her songwriting, including 4th place in the 2011 Telluride Troubadour Competition and 3rd place in the BMI/John Lennon Scholarship Awards.
Oliver also struck a balance in his musical education. Upon graduating high school he turned down several football scholarships, picked up the mandolin and guitar, and headed to Philadelphia to attend Temple University. While studying African American Literature and History, he wrote songs, played a few open mics, and began to record his original music. After three years, he realized that what he wanted to learn wasn't within the hallways of a university, but rather along the roadways of North America. "I can do my learning in the front seat of a Subaru while crossing state lines," Oliver says. "I listen to people I like, and then find the people they like, and then pay attention to that." Experience has served him well—he has logged thousands of miles, played in forty states and four countries, and played for honky-tonks, folk festivals, and listening rooms. Along the way he spent two years as a harmony vocalist, fiddler, and guitarist for the Grammy-nominated Americana artist Adrienne Young, and one year as a member of the Virginia-based quartet The Steel Wheels. "I think music is the best thing about our country," Oliver insists. "It is undeniable that if nothing else, we sure figured out how to make good music."
The Stray Birds released their wholly original debut full-length album on July 21, 2012.