Entries in Brown Bird (7)


Brown Bird - "Axis Mundi" The Point Where Heaven & Earth Connect *Album Review*

It was one year ago this month that the music community mourned the loss of David Lamb, the talented and thoughtful multi-instrumentalist who made up one half of Brown Bird, due to leukemia. Now Lamb’s life and musical partner MorganEve Swain is releasing the final chapter in the band’s compelling story, Axis Mundi, a lyric she found in his notebook that refers to the point where heaven and earth connect.

The album begins with the harrowing opener “Focus”, as Lamb’s voice hovers like a spectre. “Tethered to the cure, I focus on the pain,” he laments. “Transformation comes, tempered by the flame./ And if my flesh should fail, devour me within. / May then my soul prevail, free to roam again.”

By the time the song ends, listeners are absorbed into Lamb and Swain’s antiphonal singing, its resounding resilience, and we are mostly just glad to be able to share a few more moments with them. And when you lose someone or something you care about, that’s all you can ask for - just a few more moments.

Thankfully, there are many great moments on the record. There are ample dashes of the Middle Eastern influence that came to characterize the band’s later works. Take “Bannerman”, a song that was written just before Lamb fell ill, which features a swirling sandstorm of hypnotic harmonies and tightly interlocked riffs. The track is followed by a surf-rock informed “Aloha Senor Mano” and it’s clear the group never stopped stretching and growing.

Both musically and philosophically, Lamb was certainly a seeker. The son of a preacher, he applied an academic zeal to his spirituality, simultaneously digging into deep thinkers like Thomas Paine and Omar Khayyam. Musically, they expanded early pigeonholing from a “folk” group (really meaning “American folk instruments”) to a much more global definition of the word.

They were also big metal fans. When one hears polished rock songs like “Pale and Paralyzed” and “Ephraim”, it’s tempting to dream of an alternate ending to the story where the band is playing large rock festivals. The former features spellbinding imagery, with some of the band’s best lyrical storytelling. The latter incorporates an anthemic accordion and seeks to find “paradise in the midst of this hell, if we tilt our heads just right, and let our shackles go.”

Putting the record together quickly following David’s passing, Swain found catharsis in the process. It does not sound like “letting go”, but giving back - sharing their last musical moments and solidifying the band’s already-impressive place in our collective hearts. To that end, there are tender tunes here, too. The album’s penultimate track is “Tortured Boy”, a song Swain wrote in their first moments of dating, now impressed with new meaning to her lithe lyrics.

Finally, the album comes to rest with “Avalon”, a 46-second song Dave wrote for MorganEve and presented to her in December. Amid other compliments, the final verse rings, “You’re a huntress, and a healer, and a holder of hands./ And your heart is the Avalon that I seek for my end.” To state the obvious, it makes for an emotional end to the listening experience.

The record was originally conceived as a victory record, an album Brown Bird would tour on once Lamb was in better health. And in a way, Axis Mundi still makes for a fitting final coda. Lamb and Swain found their counterpoints in each other, and shared their connection with us through Brown Bird, making their spiritual bond manifest through their music. Now, no longer tethered, the songs, Brown Bird, and Lamb are free to roam again, their mythos fading into the brightness of an infinite horizon.





Words by Brian Hodge of Visible Voice


In Memoriam of David Lamb - Pay Tribute By Sharing His Art


It was nearly three years ago at a sweltering show in Pawtucket, I first really took notice of David Lamb’s tattoos, most notably the text across his knuckles. “COME” across one hand it said, and “HOME” across the other.

Those words took on a much different context about 10 months ago when Lamb was       diagnosed with leukemia and was forced to cancel the band’s headlining tour. Waves of support followed, and Lamb was able to receive life-saving treatment. Some four months later, those words were reframed again when Lamb returned back to Rhode Island, a sign singing “Welcome Home!” draped across their Warren apartment.

The son of ministers, Lamb’s early songwriting seemingly centered around characters that neither sought nor found redemption. They weren’t always lovable but they were always interesting. Later lyrics shone light on a certain determinism, a resignation that the the world is cold, but you can “lay in the morning sun” once the work is complete. The band’s last album, the Thomas Paine-referencing Fits of Reason, was more outward gazing, reflective of Lamb’s truth-seeking spirit.

He charted his own course, leaving a stable (and well-paying) job working on electrical systems at Blount Boats to realize his vision. Brown Bird toured the United States and Europe, and played the main stage at the Newport Folk Festival. Bigger stages and brighter lights seemed all but inevitable, but Lamb would be the first one to tell you about the pitfalls of predetermination.

When asked the backstory of the tattoo that graced his knuckles, Lamb said:

I had just ended a seven-year relationship, and the other members of Brown Bird at the time were focusing on other projects. So I was out on the road alone for six months and also leaving a very high-paying job that I felt was locking me into a lifestyle I didn’t want. So the tattoo was to remind me that, however how far out I go, not just physically but emotionally and psychologically, I wanted to return to some sort of home base and not change the core elements of who I am in the midst of all this drastic change.

In just 35 short years, Lamb gave much of himself to the world, to his family, to his wife and bandmate MorganEve Swain, to his fans. Perhaps we can take solace in the fact that maybe now he is finally home

Words by Brian Hodge for Visible Voice



Brown Bird (Dave Lamb) Update

Things were going well for Dave Lamb, lead singer and multi-instrumentalist of rising folk-rock band Brown Bird. That is until chronic fatigue and illness warranted a trip to the hospital. Turns out Lamb had leukemia. Without health insurance, as well as without any income from shows, put Lamb in a hard spot.

Hear his story and his advice in this video from HeadCount. The non-profit is working directly with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to assist musicians seeking information about health insurance, and telling the stories of ones like Lamb.

As for Lamb, he's steadily recovering and encouraging others to understand the importance of having health insurance.

"As a full time artist, a lot of times you don't have the money to see a doctor regularly," Lamb laments. "Now there are so many changes I would encourage others to definitely at least go out and see what it would cost them to get their health insurance."

Follow the band's progress and consider making a donation of support at the band's website, BrownBird.net

Words by Brian Hodge


Fall 2011 Mixtape


Newport Folk 2011 Mixtape

Delta Spirit - The Flood
Gillian Welch - The Way It Goes
Justin Townes Earle - Black Eyed Suzy
Brown Bird - Bottom Of The Bottle
Trampled By Turtles - Wait So Long
The Decemberists - Of Angels And Angels
David Wax Museum - That's Not True
River City Extension - Today, I Feel Like I'm Evolving
M. Ward (featuring Zooey Deschanel - Rave On
Elvis Costello (featuring Emmylou Harris) - Scarlet Tide
Freelance Whales - The Great Estates
The Head And The Heart - Rivers And Roads


Review: Brown Bird, The Devil Makes Three, Wooden Dinosaur - Pawtucket RI 5.19 

By Brian Hodge

Dave Lamb has got some striking ink.

The bearded singer (and guitarist and percussionist) of Brown Bird boasts sailing ships, dark bands and other interesting designs. But the most captivating piece resides on the lengths of his fingers, between his first and second knuckles.

It is there you can see the word “COME” clearly scrawled down his hand, the ‘c’ beginnning on the index and the word unapologetically creeping towards the pinky.  On his opposite hand lives the word “HOME.”

Put together, it’s a pretty powerful missive.

The duo are based out of Rhode Island but they recently looked quite at home on multiple instruments, percussive kick-drums and their barnstorming brand of outlaw folk-rock.  Their blending of distant influences (delta blues, eastern European) has allowed them to travel far and wide, but at the Met Cafe in their native Rhode Island, the pair looked glad to be home amongst friends and family, releasing their new EP.

The Sound of Ghosts continues the bands bold, upward trajectory, building upon the dark, engrossing Devil Dancing.  The four track effort features a Lamb’s solid baritone voice in full, confident force.  Morgan Eve Swain (violin, cello, upright bass) sounds more assured in both her fiddling and her vocals, particularly on the brisk “Cast No Shadow.”

(She is also more than capable in laying down the groove on the upright bass.  Check “Bilgewater” for proof.)

Brown Bird - Bilgewater

“Rat Tail” is a bluesy tune that takes a worms-eye view of the Rhode Island shipyard and the aforementioned “Cast No Shadow” carries over their effective sing-a-long sorrowful choruses.  All together, The Sound of Ghosts steps with the livelier pulse of a well-seasoned outfit poised for larger leaps.

The pair also played a new song from their full length album due out this fall.  It had a cinematic, Middle Eastern bazaar flair with the violin substituting for a sitar sound.

Put simply, if Brown Bird continues to make records - and put on shows - as good as these, you may want to catch them while they’re still around, lest you be the ones imploring them to come home.  They still have a few more Rhode Island dates on the books, including the Newport Folk Festival.  These dates (as well as their new EP) can be found here.


The Silks opened the evening with dance-friendly southern soul that owed a sly smile to Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Wooden Dinosaur were next with honest, earnest folk music.  The lyrics of Michael Roberts were well-suited for the bands gently rolling swells and choruses.  The jazziest tunes were graceful and rife with Dixieland motifs, led by the melodic trumpet of Craig Barowsky (even if a bit hobbled by a foot injury.)

The Devil Makes Three were the third act and boasted a raucous followin.  The trio cranked out punk-infused folk music, sounding a bit like if Robert Johnson went down to the crossroads and came back with a new tattoo.


Joe Fletcher & The Wrong Reasons - White Lighter

By:  Maria Cristina Romero

In their 2007 debut album, Bury Your Problems, Joe Fletcher & the Wrong Reasons deliver rock ‘n’ roll riffs steeped in blues with a rockabilly twist. Telling tales of lone rangers, rebels, and lying lovers over straight-shooting rock arrangements, the Wrong Reasons is sure to evoke your inner cowboy. The band’s crisp guitar riffs and clean drum lines sound of another time, while the gravelly story telling of front man Joe Fletcher carries listeners from beginning to end.

Wrap your ears around this! Free download:  Who Makes The Knives?

In the Wrong Reasons’ forthcoming album, White Lighter, Fletcher pairs somewhat softer arrangements with poignant depictions of loves lost and despondent souls. You can preorder the album here.  Having already been compared to greats like Johnny Cash and Nick Cave, it’s no surprise that expectations of White Lighter are high—so high in fact, that Fletcher & the Wrong Reasons have raised over $5,600 to produce and press the album.

The Wrong Reasons played “Too Many Doors,” a track from White Lighter, in the Kitchen Sessions living room as part of Kitchen Sessions #7. They were lucky enough to have Morgan Eve Swain and David Lamb of Brown Bird (who are also featured in the album version) join for this very special performance.

If you like what you hear, do yourselves a favor: go see Joe Fletcher & the Wrong Reasons live. They are playing at The 201 in Providence, RI TONIGHT with Banditas and Wooden Sky (a bill not to miss) and they play Great Scott in Allston on 11/9.