The Providence Journal, April 6 2014 • Alex Kuffner
PROVIDENCE — David Lamb, 35, a guitarist and songwriter who performed with MorganEve Swain in the Rhode Island-based folk duo Brown Bird, died Saturday of leukemia. Swain, Lamb’s longtime musical partner and later his wife, announced Lamb’s death on Brown Bird’s Facebook page Saturday night: “Dave entered the battle with leukemia as only Dave could — determined, steadfast, smiling and always with his mind on our future. His incredible ability to continue writing through his struggle is something I’ll forever aspire to. This week was the toughest in the battle, as Dave’s body began to shut down under the stress of a year-long fight and a sudden and aggressive leukemic relapse. Today surrounded by his family and so many friends, Dave peacefully let go.”
Lamb initially toured as a solo musician known as Brown Bird. He met Swain, a fiddler, on tour in 2008 and they became a well-known duo in folk music circles, eventually settling in an apartment in Warren. The group toured in the United States and Europe and played at the Newport Folk Festival.
Last May, after Lamb had been feeling ill for weeks while on tour, he was diagnosed with leukemia. Fellow musicians in Rhode Island and around the country helped to raise tens of thousands of dollars for Lamb to help pay his medical bills and get health insurance. Lamb had chemotherapy and then in September got a bone marrow transplant, his father Roger Lamb said. His health improved over the fall and winter, and he and Swain started planning their next album. But the leukemia returned in recent weeks.
“He was a minister in a ministry of music,” Roger Lamb said. “His music will live on.”
Musician Joe Fletcher first heard Lamb’s music in 2007. The song “Wrong Black Mare” was playing on the radio, and Fletcher immediately felt a connection. “I felt like I stumbled upon a kindred spirit,” said Fletcher, who lived near Lamb and Swain in Warren before moving to Nashville last October. Last year, Fletcher and his band The Wrong Reasons toured in support of Brown Bird. Even though they were the headlining act, Lamb and Swain supported Fletcher and his band by regularly coming out to play with them. “It was about playing music and helping your friends,” said Fletcher. “I will cherish the memory of that tour.”
That was typical of Lamb, said Brown Bird manager Tom Weyman. “He approached his career the same way he approached his personal life, with integrity and kindness,” Weyman said in an email.
Dozens of friends and family members visited Lamb at Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island in the days before his passing. In her Facebook posting, Swain thanked musicians and fans who had supported Lamb through his illness: “You all have posted so many beautiful stories about Dave — how humble he was, how gracious, how talented…. He certainly was all those things.” She concluded: “Thank you for all the love you’ve all shown us. It helped so very much to know we had an army behind us.”
By early Sunday night, nearly 1,500 people had commented on Swain’s posting, sharing words of support, condolences and memories of Lamb. A concert to celebrate Lamb’s life will be held Tuesday at the Columbus Theater in Providence. Joe Fletcher, Death Vessel, Alec K. Redfearn and Last Good Tooth will play. Doors will open at 7:30 p.m. and the event will start at 8:30 p.m. It is free and open to the public.