The Blue Door is hallowed ground for most folk artists, but The Stray Birds’ recent fixation on one of the listening room’s more recent products has the bluegrass trio that much more eager to make its debut there Thursday.
“We got to meet and open for John Fullbright in Tulsa last summer. We are obsessed with him as a band,” said singer/fiddler Maya de Vitry. “We got hip to the Live at The Blue Door album he put out, and we are so excited to step on that stage ourselves.”
Inspired by Sooner State native sons Woody Guthrie and J.J. Cale, The Stray Birds already have made Oklahoma a favorite stop in their short time as a full-time touring band, and it takes the good chance encounters with the bad.
“The first night in Oklahoma last summer, we went camping, and we were wondering why we were the only ones on the campgrounds. The park ranger told us that snakes were out at that time of year and that the tarantulas were actually migrating. That night, we got a little visitor … that huge, huge spider,” de Vitry said. “So it’s sacred ground and a little bit of foreign soil.”
De Vitry is joined by guitarist-singer Oliver Craven and bassist Charles Muench. The three grew up within a 10-mile radius of each other in Lancaster County, Penn., meeting and playing in various contexts until the universe finally brought the three together in the same room in 2010.
What began as a mere recording project between de Vitry and Craven evolved to include Muench and soon became all the three could think about. Upon releasing the Borderland EP in 2010, the threesome hit the road and rarely has been off it ever since.
“It’s evolved into this full-time thing,” de Vitry said. “After having that experience and pushing [the] record, we’ve just come back … and evolved into three equal pieces. Each member is totally irreplaceable, and that’s what point we are at now creatively. It’s a special thing to be a part of.”
The Stray Birds released their self-titled debut full-length album last year. The band has been writing, largely on the road, what will become a follow-up.
“I really like to write when I’m traveling. I’m usually most inspired in a moving vehicle or a train,” de Vitry said, laughing. “I like writing when it feels like there’s not much else to do, and that’s how it usually feels in the back seat of our Subaru. It’s been pretty productive.”
Still, the more collaborative dynamic demands some solid time to sit, write and record together, which is often hard to come by, given the road schedule. Despite that, The Stray Birds hope to have their sophomore album out sometime late this year or in the first half of 2014.
“You need to get everyone in that creative collective space, and that can get a little harder. It’s a balance to find the time to do it,” de Vitry said. “We don’t get to spend much time at home … but we don’t mind one bit.”
Hey! Read This:
• John Fullbright interview