The Stray Birds land in Asheville, coming to Casbah

Oct. 31, 2013 @ 02:19 PM

Oliver Craven, the fiddler in Americana trio The Stray Birds, moved to Asheville a few weeks ago.
“There’s a lot of good music here, and good food,” Craven said as some of the reasons to choose Asheville over the band’s previous home – Lancaster, Pa. – which is still home to Charlie Muench, who plays upright bass, banjo and vocals for The Stray Birds. Maya de Vitry, on vocals, guitar, fiddle and banjo, also just moved South to Asheville.
So far, so good.
“I’ve met good friends, played good music, eaten good food,” said Craven, who also plays guitar and sings vocals in the band.
The Stray Birds will perform Nov. 7 at Casbah in downtown Durham. They were all in North Carolina recently for the International Bluegrass Music Association’s conference and concerts in Raleigh. The Stray Birds played two shows and stayed for the duration.
“It was a lot of fun. It was a good time,” Craven said. He describes their sound as Americana. “It’s acoustic and has roots a lot of places – folk, bluegrass, old time.”
Craven was a classical violinist as a child, starting to play at age 5. After high school he picked up more instruments and played bluegrass. He didn’t like classical as much.
“I don’t know. I began creating music, I guess, and wasn’t trying to write classical music – just make friends and have fun,” he said.
Bandmates de Vitry and Muench knew each other already from high school. Muench and Craven met through a mutual friend and played together in another band in Lancaster before The Stray Birds. Now they’ve all worked full-time in the band for the past year and a half.
“This band is largely a touring band, and we travel a great deal,” Craven said. They recently acquired a new van.
“We spent like the first 18 months of our touring time as a trio in a Subaru Outback that was absolutely packed to the gills,” he said, and audiences watched them perform the puzzle that was packing the car.
“We think about it now, two months after getting the van. It was insane how many miles we drove – 60,000 miles in 18 months. Now we have a large, more reasonable touring vehicle,” he said.
As for the whereabouts of the Subaru, named Suzy Q Blue, Craven has it. It was his own car used for the band as well as occasional trips with Muench’s car, also a Subaru. The new band van is called Katy Cool Lady, named after the J.J. Cale song “Katy Kool Lady” and the K-T Railroad named for the Missouri to Kansas to Texas train route. The railroad is mentioned in blues songs.
So do The Stray Birds have a song about their transportation?
“Maybe I should start working on that, it’s not a bad idea,” Craven said.


WHO: The Stray Birds
WHEN: 8 p.m. Nov. 7
WHERE: Casbah
1007 W. Main St., Durham
TICKETS: $10 advance/$12 day of show