Life At the Edge
Brown Bird’s Dave Lamb faces a crisis, and his fans have his back in a big way.
Spend a few minutes hanging at the warm side of street musicians’ guitar case, lost in the rawness of word and melody, and a niggling sense will creep into your reverie: Playing for quarters and raggedy dollar bills is a scary way to make a living. That musician, however, might have paying gigs too. Hell, they might even tour with a partner or band. What a life! Unfortunately, no matter where many of these folks go, they are likely no more than a few months away from bust. Such is the life of a modern troubadour.
Singer songwriters engage in their craft because it makes them—and their fans—feel alive. Writing and performing songs keeps their blood pumping—and their beat up van chugging along. Rarely does it make them rich.
That feeling of vitality and urgency keeps David Lamb and MorganEve Swain of the duet Brown Bird on the road for weeks. Their latest tour schedule has them travelling from April through early August–or it did, until Dave landed in a Houston hospital. Now, that unsettling wind swirling at the edge of the guitar case takes on a harder edge.
If the sun was always shining and our load always light
we’d be shaking like a leaf with every God given night
and we’d break under the weight
of any pain that ever came in this life.
—Bilgewater, from the album Salt for Salt
Everyone on Brown Bird’s email list and Twitter feed received a disturbing communiqué on Friday morning, May 17th (click here for details). Apparently, on the eve of the band’s May 10th show at Fitzgerald’s in Houston, Dave made a beeline to the Emergency Room, struggling to breathe. In the ensuing days, Dave has gone through a battery of poking and prodding (physically and financially). So far, we know that Dave is severely anemic, and that his hospital bills and cancelled tour dates have left him and MorganEve staring at the financial abyss
For many artists, hitting the rocks due to failing health is simply part of the tragic arc. Worse, that suffering is most often embraced in quiet solitude. In this age of instant communication, however, artists don’t have to face their troubles in isolation. No stranger to the power of social media, Brown Bird’s MorganEve reached out to the band’s fans, creating an online campaign to defray medical expenses and lost gigs (click here to learn more). Then, the magic began to happen.
Within 12 hours of launching the campaign, hundreds of the band’s friends, family and fans had donated over $20 thousand dollars. By early this morning (May 18th), they were close to $30,000. Although they’ve set a goal of $40,000, it’s clear that they’ll need more, and with 29 days to go in the campaign, odds are that they’ll get more.
Making music sometimes seems like a one way street, with the artists giving and giving until they are dry. Dave and MorganEve’s journey through these turbulent waters attests that all that they’ve given can come back to them threefold.
For more on Brown Bird, see Chris Mateer’s excellent interview with MorganEve and Dave, or search for “Brown Bird” in the NoDepression search bar. To contribute to Dave’s fundraiser (any amount helps!), visit their YouCaring.com campaign page. It’ll make you feel even better than a Brown Bird show at your local watering hole.
PHOTO: Courtesy of Michael Marotta, OnTheDownload