Published: 06/09/2014 01:00 - Updated: 05/09/2014 17:25

Stray Birds fly in for first Highland visit

The Stray Birds
The Stray Birds

BACK in Scotland after being hailed as the hit of Denmark’s 40th anniversary Tønder Festival, Pennsylvania trio The Stray Birds are looking forward to seeing a bit more of the country this time round.

Back in January, Oliver Craven, Maya de Vitry and Charles Muench made their Scottish debut at Glasgow’s Celtic Connections Festival, but with contractual restrictions preventing them from playing north of the Border around the Celtic Connections show, they have had to wait until now to explore a little more of the country.

With just two dates in England on this UK tour, one in Stafford and the other in London, the multi-instrumentalist trio are definitely making Scotland their priority with a run of shows that include dates in Inverness, Findhorn, Skye and Lewis.

"So many of our stablemates have had such a great time in Scotland, we just had to make the effort to enjoy the same experience," Charlie Muench said.

"We’ve been told it will be pretty special and if the reception we got at St Andrews in The Square in Glasgow, back in January is anything to go by, we know what that means."

Maya de Vitry is preparing for some memorable views on their journey around the Highlands.

"We are looking forward to taking in the landscape of the Highlands. We have been told that our drives will be filled with geological eye candy," she said.

"When we hung out in the pubs during Celtic Connections, we met plenty of people who had travelled down from the Highlands for the festival, and we’re happy to be the ones making the trip north this time."

The much travelled band, predicted by BBC Radio 2’s Bob Harris as being on the verge of "folk/bluegrass superstardom", are living up to their name, de Vitry says.

"For the time being, we’ve left other obligations and opportunities behind to travel the world together and sing," she stated.

"We’ve always identified with the idea of birds, singing and migrating, and when Oliver noticed the word ‘stray’ scribbled on a random shoebox on day, it seemed to fit just fine."

Each of the band’s three members bring their own talents to the group, de Vitray added.

"It is really lucky for us that these strengths are so complementary," she said.

"The tone and range of our voices—and their complementary blend—are the centre of our sound. We’ve all been able to teach each other things too, and our varied musical interests and backgrounds—from Jimi Hendrix to Doc Watson—keep our arrangements fresh and inspired.

"I think that one of our collective strengths is the ability to yield to whatever is best for a song. Since we travel with about seven instruments for three people, we have a lot of options for the texture, how to make the bed for a song.

"There’s a saying about the whole being greater than the sum of the parts, and we’re happy to say that is true of the three of us when we get together to play music."

The Stray Birds’ second album, Best Medicine, is just about to be released and the group had their first listen to the vinyl version earlier this week when they arrived in Britain.

"It was mind-blowing to hear our music coming out of a record player, and we are delighted to say that the new music is going to be available digitally, on CD, and on vinyl," de Vitray added.

"A lot of the songs were actually written within the context of travelling in this band, which helps them to sit really well within our collective voices and collective experiences. It was also recorded live in the studio.

"Look for Charlie singing lead on this one, too. And you might hear some piano."

• The Stray Birds appear at the OneTouch Theatre, Eden Court, Inverness, on Saturday 6th and the Universal Hall, Findhorn, on Sunday 7th September.

New album Best Medicine is released in October.

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