“Music is the best medicine I sell,” a record shop owner in Schenectady, N.Y., told the Stray Birds two years ago as the Americana trio sifted through racks of vinyl in his shop.
“We loved that,” says Charlie Muench, calling from his Lancaster, Penn., home. “We agree with it and are all about that. We left that store thinking that message was so cool.”
The group, which also includes Maya de Vitry and Oliver Craven, was so inspired by that exchange that they named their latest album “Best Medicine.”
The project, which dropped in October, is a cure-all for those who get a boost from beautiful harmonies and earnest, nostalgic songs. The three classically trained musicians who make up the Stray Birds more than do justice to contemporary Americana.
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“I think we do make people feel better, especially those who come out and see us live,” Muench says. “The traveling part of touring isn’t fun, but once we step onstage, we have so much fun engaging the crowd.”
The Stray Birds possess such a connection live, it’s almost as if they have telepathy. Perhaps that has something to do with the long history between Muench, who plays bass and sings, and de Vitry.
“Maya and I went to middle school and high school together,” Muench says. “We played in the school orchestra together. That’s a pretty cool thing to share. We’re very comfortable with each other.”
The schoolmates met Craven through mutual friends five years ago. Muench and Craven formed the bluegrass band Riverwheel in 2010. At that point deVitry and Craven, who each play fiddle and guitar, started sharing songs and eventually wrote together.
“It was apparent that it would all work as a three-piece,” Muench says. “It was a very natural thing early on.”
The band, who will perform Sunday at Artsplosure, started by busking in the streets of Lancaster in 2011. The following year, they released their well-received self-titled debut album, which found an audience.
“I think people relate to what we do because it’s inspired by real life,” Muench says. “The lyrics are at the center of everything we do. Maya and Oliver write the songs and bring them in and we arrange them. We’re all typically on the same page. We may be three different people, but it feels like the Stray Birds are one. We’re a single entity. We’re a strong unit.”
Just as the band operates as a single entity, each song stands on its own. While many bands release a single and nine other songs that sound like it, the Stray Birds take listeners on a journey with each cut. They specialize in gentle, piano-driven songs and jaunty cuts led by deft fiddle play.
“We are all about mixing it up,” Muench says. “It makes it interesting for us and the audience. The reaction we get onstage makes all of the travel we endure and everything else from the road worth it.”
Who: Stray Birds
When: 2:30 p.m. Sunday
Where: Main Stage at City Plaza, 400 Fayetteville St., Raleigh