WHEN: Friday February 19, 2016 at 7:30 pm
WHERE: Renaissance Arts Center Theatre in Kingsport, Tennessee
COST: Reserved Seats $15
BOOK NOW: www.EngageKingsport.com (423) 392-8414
KINGSPORT – The Kingsport Office of Cultural Arts and Engage Kingsport present an evening with The Stray Birds and special guest Amythyst Kiah on Friday, February 19, 2016 at the Renaissance Arts Center Theatre in Kingsport.‚ Tickets are $15. This show is part of The Engage Kingsport Performing Arts Series 2016 winter lineup.‚ ‚ Engage Kingsport Performing Arts Series shows feature reserved seating in the beautiful Renaissance Arts Center Theatre, a 350 seat theatre.‚ Tickets are available online at EngageKingsport.com or at the Office of Cultural Arts at 1200 E. Center Street, Kingsport or by phone at (423) 392-8414.
The Stray Birds
The Stray Birds have been flying high since the 2012 release of their critically acclaimed self-titled album, The Stray Birds. Two years, hundreds of gigs, and thousands of highway miles later, the genre-melding acoustic trio made its Yep Roc Records debut with Best Medicine, released on‚ October 21, 2014.
This is the first time that we have written music within the context of being a consistent, traveling, performing band says de Vitry. These songs have been largely inspired by places weve been or experiences weve had on the road. The albums title track, Best Medicine was inspired by a trip to Schenectady, New York, a town with a lively record store amidst countless abandoned storefronts. This juxtaposition, along with the fascinating life story of the record shops proprietor, led de Vitry to pen the lyrics, You never know the gold you can find out there / ‚¬Til you put the needle down and do some digging in the air‚¬¦if the body is a temple, the soul is a bell/ And thats why music is the best medicine I sell.”
The band ‚¬ multi-instrumentalists and vocalists Maya de Vitry, Oliver Craven, and Charlie Muench ‚¬ hails from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. All three are classically-trained musicians whove been making music of all kinds since childhood (before they reconnected through the local music scene, de Vitry and Muench first met in middle school orchestra); however, they were also all raised with a steady diet of music ranging from pioneers like The Carter Family and Bill Monroe & His Blue Grass Boys to the joyous invention of The Beatles and The Band, to the groundbreaking artistry of Jimi Hendrix.
After college, Craven was playing with Muench in a bluegrass band called River Wheel when he and de Vitry first met. Craven and de Vitry began sharing their original songs with one another, playing local open mics, and busking regularly at Lancasters Central Market. In an effort to preserve their songs before an impending parting, the pair recorded the Borderland EP in a friends basement studio in 2010. Muench appeared as a guest bassist on a few tracks.
It was only a year before the trio would wrap up other endeavors and reassemble in a recording studio, independently releasing their first full-length album, The Stray Birds, in 2012. Making that record was a really great process for us to learn how we work together as a band explains de Vitry. The album became a critical darling: NPR included it on their 10 Best Folk/Americana Albums of the Year list and several songs from the project were in heavy rotation on taste-making radio stations like WXPN.
The albums success earned The Stray Birds performance slots at prestigious events like the Philadelphia, Kerrville, and Falcon Ridge Folk Festival and legendary venues like Nashvilles famous bluegrass club and The Station Inn. Their steadily increasing popularity led to an appearance on Mountain Stage, where their spellbinding harmonies captivated audiences nationwide and helped to build a dedicated fanbase in the UK and Ireland as well.
The trio, who roots music site No Depression praised as a band destined for global success received rave reviews at the 2014 Celtic Connections Festival in Scotland and followed that appearance with a number of sold-out dates in England and Ireland.
Where their previous releases (aside from the 2013 EP, Echo Sessions, which consisted of covers of songs penned by Townes Van Zandt, The Louvin Brothers, Jimmie Rodgers, Nanci Griffith, and Susanna Clark) consisted nearly entirely of songs that the band members wrote individually while remaining close to home, for Best Medicine, the bands primary songwriters, Maya and Oliver, wrote new, original material inspired by their last two and a half years on the road; then The Stray Birds honed the majority of these songs onstage together.
When the group began to work on their new album at Stonebridge Studios in Leesburg, Virginia, The Stray Birds and their co-producer Stuart Martin pursued a method of recording that was unlike any other project the band had ever made before. Its more us states Craven. Instead of recording in isolation as they did on The Stray Birds, for Best Medicine, the band eschewed booths and headphones, instead recording the majority of their material live off the floor, in the same room, each musician playing and singing around a microphone, capturing the energy and the familial feel of their live shows. There were few overdubs, which were largely used by the Birds to give several songs an extra layer of texture by adding more instrumental tracks (ranging from slide guitar to piano) instead of using session musicians.
By the time we recorded this album, singing together had become so natural explains de Vitry. It had become familial rather than just professional. Our vocal ranges and tones were complementary to begin with, but our inflection and phrasing evolved so effortlessly once we were singing out on the road every night.
Muench agrees, noting, I think the three of us have really gelled and inhabited The Stray Birds as a single entity. In the beginning it was ‚¬Maya and Oliver and Charlie sometimes playing music together. Now we are a solid unit.
In addition to being their strongest, most personal, and most authentic album to date, Best Medicine is an album of firsts for these three musicians: it is the bands first full-length album where Charlie Muench sings lead on a song, a jaunty, fiddle-laced version of the traditional tune Pallet which has long been a fan favorite at shows. It was also the first song Maya and Oliver sang together back in 2010, making its inclusion on Best Medicine a moment in which the bands journey from a Lancaster basement to the stages of some of the most well-known festivals in the country seems to have come full circle. The album is also the first one to include a song co-written by Maya and Oliver, who normally write separately: the poignant Feathers and Bone, a song that the pair finished in the studio late one night after one of their recording sessions.
Many of the songs on Best Medicine have been refined onstage in the last year; however, there is one new song that has never been performed live before. Never for Nothing, is an unforgettable ballad that shines with a glimmer of hope as de Vitry sings, over delicate piano and guitar, Im dripping from the rivers I never meant to cross / But I like the things Im learning more than anything Ive lost / And, oh, I have lost‚¬¦but not for nothing.
Although The Stray Birds choose to focus on folk musics sounds, harmonies, and tones, rather than its tradition of politically-conscious lyrics, Best Medicine includes two songs that would do Pete Seeger proud: Cravens Simple Man, a heartbreaking song, reminiscent of Woody Guthries Dust Bowl ballads, told from the perspective of a down on his luck farmer who prays he wont live to see the next sunrise, and de Vitrys Black Hills, a moody song, anchored by clawhammer banjo, about a dark spot in American history ‚¬ it was inspired by a 2012 National Geographic article titled In the Shadow of Wounded Knee.
While the bulk of the original material for Best Medicine was written with The Stray Birds in mind, the two songs that close the album come from an earlier time but find a home in the hands of the close-knit trio. Cravens aforementioned Simple Man, and de Virys Might Rain‚¬â€the first song she ever wrote‚¬â€ a song for which Muench lays down the bass and picks up the clawhammer banjo in a lulling, old-time inspired arrangement.
Supporting the release of Best Medicine, The Stray Birds are touring for much of 2015 and 2016, bringing their stunning harmonies and lyrics to theaters, venues, and festivals across the country and world, and thankfully to the Renaissance Arts Center Theatre in Kingsport, Tennessee on February 19th.
Special Guest Opener: Amythyst Kiah
Amythyst Kiah is a Southern Gothic, alt-country blues American singer/songwriter that has found a way to fuse traditional roots music with a contemporary style that does not take away from the integrity of the original song, and transforms them into powerful, soulful renditions. Her music has been described as “a brilliant blend of surf rock, soul and grunge that bleeds country“.‚ Amythyst Kiah has been a resident of Johnson City, for nearly a decade now.‚ Most people have a difficult time labelling her sound, but she defines it simply as southern roots music She has been performing in the Tri-Cities and in various parts of Southwest Virginia.
Not only are her influences eclectic, but they span across decades. She draws heavily on Old Time music (Mississippi Sheiks, Son House, Jimmie Rodgers, Olla Belle Reed, Carter Family) and is inspired by vocal stylings of R&B and Country music from the ’50s-’70s (Big Mama Thornton, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Mahalia Jackson, Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn). She also draws heavily from contemporary artists that `have similar powerful vocal integrity (Adele, Florence and the Machine, Megan Jean and the KFB, Janelle Monae, Bonnie Raitt).
Her sound on her new album, Dig, is raw and sparse, with heavy lyrical content regarding such themes as loss, betrayal, and murder.
She has opened for such acts as Tim O’Brien and Darrell Scott, The Duhks, Megan Jean and the KFB, and has played the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival 2012 alongside the Ebony Hillbillies and Sparky and Rhonda Rucker. She also had the pleasure of performing on Music City Roots.
Needless to say, Amythyst has a lot of tools in her vocal tool box, and is also well on her way to joining the powerhouse vocalist pantheon.
The Full Engage Kingsport Performing Arts Series Winter Lineup Includes:
– Friday, January 15, 2016 ‚¬ Blue Highway w/ The Loose Strings Band – $25
– Friday, January 22, 2016 ‚¬ Becky Hobbs & EG Kight w/ Lucy Billings – $10
– Friday, January 29, 2016 ‚¬ The Fiddlin Carson Peters Band w/ Jeffrey Benedict – $15
– Friday, February 5, 2016 ‚¬ Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley w/ JP Parsons – $15
– Friday, February 19, 2016 ‚¬ The Stray Birds w/ Amythyst Kiah – $15
– Friday, February 26, 2016 ‚¬ The Barebart Movement w/ Rebecca Lee Daniels – $15
City of Kingsport Mission:
To provide economic, educational & quality of life opportunities that create a safe, vibrant & diverse Community.
The Office of Cultural Arts, part of the City of Kingsport, connects, coordinates and engages the public with a creative community.
Programs & partnerships include: Art in the Heart Gallery, Public Art Kingsport, The Engage Kingsport Performing Arts Series, the Kingsport Carousel, the Carousel Fine Craft Show and more. These programs and parnerships provide a broad range of support to the areas arts organizations.‚ Each work in tandem with Engage Kingsport, Inc., the Friends of the Cultural Arts group, a private, volunteer-led 501(c)3 non-profit community organization.