Stray Birds / Three Tall Pines at the me & thee coffeehouse
The Stray Birds
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 heightenedculminating in a Music Education degree from West Chester University. In the midst of this classical music education, Charles found another musical outleta 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 spiritand the social nature of music." Joe also called upon Charles to work up another skill that he would carry with himbluegrass 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 wellhe 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.
Three Tall Pines
Don't be fooled by the name. Three Tall Pines is an award winning quartet playing bluegrass and Americana from the heart of New England. Though their faces are young, the group's timeless originals and interpretations of traditional songs persuade listeners that bygone eras were just a short while ago. Impressive instrumentalists in their own right, they transcend their diverse musical backgrounds to achieve soulful harmonies and sensitive performances that draw audiences in and leave plenty of space for the story to shine through.
Recently the band has caught the eye of many critics in their first few years together. Named 2011 Bluegrass Band of the Year by the Motif Arts Magazine and winner of the Ossipee Valley Bluegrass Festival band competition, securing them a slot on the main stage in 2012.
'Short While Ago,' the band's debut album, has brought Three Tall Pines both critical acclaim and widespread exposure, through increased demand for bookings in the Northeast, and radio play across the country. The album was recorded in fall of 2007, at Signature Sounds (Pomfret, CT), with the acoustic music expertise of recording engineer Mark Thayer. Original tracks from 'Short While Ago' have been lauded in reviews and competitions, including top prizes from Ourstage.com (#1 in bluegrass, July 2008); Ossipee Valley Songwriting Contest (third place, August 2008); and, a finalist ranking in the national Newsong Contest run by NPR's Mountain Stage. Recently, the band recorded their second album All That's Left at Hi n Dry Studios in Somerville, MA. This new album, released in October 2011, includes a collection of original hand crafted songs that was produced with Avi Salloway and Charlie Rose and guest features some of the area's best local musicians.
The members of Three Tall Pines make diverse contributions to the quartet's unique sound. Bourdeau and Lurgio provide the raw material, offering up carefully crafted original songs, each with its own unique content and character. The quartet works as a group to shape each tune, seeking out ways to enhance and embellish its message. Lurgio's classic, brilliant mandolin sound, Smith's colorful, classic and bluegrass inspired fiddle, and DiSebastian's powerful rhythm and stylistic versatility all serve to enrich each heartfelt melody.
me & thee coffeehouse (View)
28 Mugford St
Marblehead, MA 01945
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