Newport Folk Festival: Brown Bird

Rhode Island natives David Lamb and Morgan Eve Swain of Brown Bird kicked off the festival at Newport’s Fort Stage early Saturday morning. While this was not Brown Bird’s first time at the festival, it was Lamb and Swain’s great pleasure to be featured on this year’s main stage.

“It feels so great that Newport has faith in us that this many of you will like us,” Lamb joked with the audience after commenting on the breathtaking view of the harbor from the stage.

Lamb provided lead vocals and guitar for the set while Swain played upright bass and fiddle. The set started the morning off strong with an upbeat performance of “Thunder and Lightening” off of their fifth and most recent album, Salt for Salt. The album was released under Supply and Demand Music last October and was recorded locally in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.

Salt for Salt is said to be the first album that really portrays the albums intense live energy that Lamb and Swain definitely brought with them this year to Newport. Prior to this album, Brown Bird included a full band and Salt for Salt marks a stark change in the lineup – now stripped down to only Lamb and Swain. To be quite honest, having seen the energy they brought with them this morning – I can’t imagine how the lineup was ever any different. This stripped down version truly brings out the individual strengths of both Lamb and Swain and showcases what talented and versatile musicians they truly are.

Some stand-out tracks from the set include Salt for Salt’s “End of Days,” “Fingers To the Bone,” and “Bligewater.” The duo also broke out a brand new instrumental track for the Newport early birds that featured Swain with a swirling fiddle melody that left me incredibly impressed.

The audience was up on their feet and dancing alongside the duo’s melodies by the third song of the set. I was so happy to see audience members forego their lawn chairs and picnic blankets to clap and sway with the band. With this much energy so early in the day I can’t wait to see what’s in store for us this afternoon!

By Jeeyoon Kim

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