Dave Lamb, of Folk Duo Brown Bird, Dead at 35

Guitarist and songwriter, who passed from leukemia, had campaigned for musicians to know their health care options

Dave Lamb, Brown Bird, obituary
Brown Bird's MorganEve Swain and Dave Lamb in 2012
Marc Hogan

When Dave Lamb answered a phone call from SPIN late last year, he had just gotten home from the hospital after a bone marrow transplant. The guitarist and singer for Providence, Rhode Island duo Brown Bird was trying to publicize the risks of not having health insurance, which he knew from experience from falling ill with leukemia while on tour. Lamb, who married bandmate MorganEve Swain shortly before the bone marrow procedure, was writing new material and talking about eventually getting back out on the road.

On April 5, Swain shared heartbreaking news on Brown Bird's Facebook page. Lamb died earlier that day after his leukemia recently returned. "Dave entered the battle with leukemia as only Dave could — determined, steadfast, smiling and always with his mind on our future," Swain wrote. "His incredible ability to continue writing through his struggle is something I'll forever aspire to." Lamb was 35, according to the Providence Journal.

Lamb started Brown Bird as a solo project while he was living in Seattle. He met Swain, a cellist and fiddler, while on tour in 2008 and asked her to join him. They toured the United States and Europe, played at the Newport Folk Festival, and NPR named 2011's Salt for Salt one of the best folk albums of the year. When Lamb got sick, fans raised more than $70,000 to help him buy health insurance. A public celebration of his life is set for April 8 at 8:30 p.m. at Columbus Theatre in Providence (more details here).

Listen to Brown Bird's music on Bandcamp, learn more of their story from an April 2013 Providence Phoenix feature, and revisit Monsters of Health, SPIN's story about how Lamb and members of My Morning Jacket, Pearl Jam, Death Cab for Cutie, the Head and the Heart, and more were spreading the word about the importance of a medical safety net.

Read Swain's full note below.

Dear friends,
Over the past year, and especially this past week, I have been so overwhelmed and grateful for the amount of love that has surrounded Dave and me throughout our life and career together. You all have posted so many beautiful stories about Dave- how humble he was, how gracious, how talented...He certainly was all those things.
Four days after Dave and I met we became bandmates, lovers and business partners, and set the tone for what our life would be for the next six years. We never imagined the amount of success we would enjoy in those years, how many incredible friendships would be forged, the experiences we would share, and nothing could have prepared us for the events of this past year.

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.

Thank you for all the love you've all shown us. It helped so very much to know we had an army behind us.

Love and gratitude,

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