In Memoriam – Dave Lamb

Dave Lamb of the Providence, RI-based duo Brown Bird passed away this past weekend. The circumstances are heart-wrenching. Lamb fell ill with mysterious symptoms while touring Texas last year. In a tale that is all too familiar, Lamb had no insurance. Fortunately, he was able to get home and secure insurance for what became a year-long battle with leukemia.

Lamb was a fighter to the end, persevering through chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. He kept an optimistic attitude and continued to write as he counted down the days until he could return to the road with his wife and musical partner MorganEve Swain.

When all seemed hopeful, the situation suddenly changed as his leukemia returned with a vengeance. Within a week he was taken from us.

The outpouring of support that Lamb received during his battle and upon news of his passing is a true testament to the man and the musician. His appearance was somewhat intimidating yet he was, by all accounts, a gentle giant. His music, while seemingly dark, was rich in texture and vibrant storytelling.

Rest in peace, Dave. You’ll be sorely missed.

Here’s a song that Lamb wrote during — and about — his battle. Below is a video from Brown Bird’s appearance at the legendary Newport Folk Festival in 2012.

Music With a Purpose — Matthew Ryan’s “An Anthem for the Broken”

Let me get straight to the point. Buy this song. Buy it not because it is a great song, although it is. Buy it because when you do, you’ll be supporting a fellow music fan and longtime friend of Twangville who is waging a fierce battle with ALS (otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease).

Click play to listen while you read more about this incredible song and the wonderful people that it benefits.

This is a story of two incredible people. One you may know; one you likely don’t.

The first is Matthew Ryan, a singer-songwriter who personifies everything that I love about rock and roll. Whether he is singing a stirring acoustic ballad or a ragged guitar-driven rock song, Ryan’s performances are consistently as passionate as they are powerful.

The second person is my friend John Anderson. John, with the love and support of his wife Amanda, has been waging an extended battle with ALS, a debilitating disease often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

John’s name may be familiar to some of you. For many years before ALS took its toll, John annually shared his SXSW highlights with the Twangville community. His posts, including this review of a 2008 Matthew Ryan show, were always some of my favorites. They are wonderfully written and are filled with John’s wit and wisdom. (See all of John’s Twangville posts here.)

I suspect that if you’re reading Twangville, you probably share something in common with John – an unbridled passion for music. Yet I would wager that your intensity pales in comparison to John’s. Hell, even I stand in awe of his boundless enthusiasm. As Ryan said in a moving note about John, “John being a true believer in the ability of Rock N Roll to throw fists in the air and inspire hope against odds wouldn’t have it any other way.”

To raise funds to support John and Amanda as they cope with the financial and emotional realities of ALS, Ryan is sharing a song from his recently recorded but unreleased new album. It’s not just any song but a staggering rock anthem. Ryan explains:

It was my idea to do this, I was grateful when they accepted the gesture. The song we chose is not a sublime lament, but a noisy and pounding rallying to the better parts of our nature and perseverance with gang vocals, poetry and some giant propulsive electric guitars.

The song was written with a lot of people in mind. But John was absolutely one of them. Something beautiful happens to people when they’re fighting for something.

Knowing John as I do, he would undoubtedly insist that I speak to the glories of the song and the forthcoming album from which it was taken. I’m more than happy to oblige.

After 2012’s wonderfully sublime and cinematic In the Dusk of Everything, Ryan was apparently ready to rock. He traveled to Woodstock New York to work with Kevin Salem, a masterful guitarist and producer. The duo, along with a crack band that included The Gaslight Anthem’s Brian Fallon, cranked up the guitars with such intensity that one wonders how Salem’s studio wasn’t reduced to a pile of rubble.

Don’t believe me? Listen to “An Anthem for the Broken.” If ever there was a song that is the perfect rock anthem, and one that embodies the spirit of the man with whom I’ll forever associate it, this is it.

We won’t quit.

**Learn more about ALS here.**

Matthew Ryan


An anthem for the ones who hurt
Who broke their fists on dreams and dirt
Who climbed the hills and found the sea
Who saw the tops of home and tree
Who never left their hearts in scars
Who caught the fire in the stars
Who held their kids when they were scared
Who found a way from here to there

An anthem for the real reward
The sometimes broke and bent before
Where hope is lost and winter birds
Float from the wires when shots are heard
An anthem for my mother’s arms
The bravest walk, the big alarm
The boxers, cops and soldiers too
The ones who need no gratitude

We won’t quit…

An anthem for the brotherhood
The light in the dark and the lean for good
The knowing not which way to go
But here but for the grace of the unknown I know
A dollar’s not a peace nor end
I’d do it all and all again
An anthem for the broken hearts
That made it worlds from where they’d start

We won’t quit…

Shane Sweeney’s Morning Drawings

For all the magical moments spent performing, I gotta imagine that life as a touring musician has plenty of shortcomings. Set aside the extended drives and junk food sustenance, there are undoubtedly hours of monotony and boredom. In those instances it pays to have a hobby to occupy the time.

Two Cow Garage’s Shane Sweeney appears to have found an enjoyable was to pass the time. While on a recent tour, he set pen to paper and began producing what has become a steady stream of lyric-driven art work. Each piece contains a simple drawing based on a song lyric. The artists whose songs Sweeney has selected have been intriguing, ranging from Lucero to the Bee Gees.

Below are a few personal favorites. Like what you see? Sweeney is selling these one-of-a-kinds and even takes commissions. View more and get purchase details here.

Shane Sweeney's Song Drawings

Shane Sweeney's Song Drawings

Shane Sweeney's Song Drawings

Shane Sweeney's Song Drawings

Sweeney gets back to his day job when Two Cow Garage heads out on a US tour this month. Check out the dates here.

Monday Morning Video: Boston Music Awards Winners

The Boston Music Awards were held in, um, Boston last night. Congrats to all the deserving winners, a list that included several Twangville faves:

Kingsley Flood — Album of the Year

Girls, Guns and Glory — Americana Artist of the Year + Male Vocalist of the Year (Ward Hayden)

Session Americana — Best Live Ongoing Residency

Charlie Chesterman — Unsung Hero Award

A Thanksgiving Toast 2013

Well it’s Thanksgiving again and that means it’s time to thank all who helped out with Twangville this year. First and foremost we have to thank all the Twangville readers who read our reviews and participate in our weekly polls. More importantly, we have to thank all the musicians who give us things worth talking about. Without either, Twangville wouldn’t exist.

Session Americana (Suzanne Davis)
Session Americana at the 2nd Twangville Music Festival. (photo by Suzanne Davis)

We celebrated our eight year at Twangville earlier this year with our second music festival in two years. This year we helped feature not one but two glorious nights at Cambridge’s Lizard Lounge with a stellar line up including Bill JanovitzKevin GordonSession AmericanaJoe FletcherStephen Kellogg, and Sarah Borges. Thanks to all the fans who made it out and helped to make the weekend event a success. The verdict is still out on a repeat for 2014. Stay tuned.

Twangville festival poster

I hope you’ve enjoyed all the articles and reviews that the Twangville posse put together for you this year. We try to bring you something new every week day of the year whether it be an interesting video, playlist, or review. This is an all-volunteer effort largely coordinated by the efforts of Mayer Danzig who was also responsible for bringing you this year’s music festival in Boston. If you haven’t been following our posse of authors, you can see all of their articles by clicking on their names below:

We also teamed up with Jimbo Hart and Amy Black to bring you an amazing set of articles about a thriving Muscle Shoals scene. See here:

Last, I remained largely behind-the-scenes this year (a habit I’m trying my darndest to break). That said, there is one thing I’ve been working on that I think you’ll really enjoy. Like many, I’ve been lured to music streaming services for music discovery. I love that I can listen to new music in an on demand way and also create my own playlists. I wish these services did more for the artists who make their music available but they don’t do much. As I understand it, only the popular artists really benefit in any significant way and even then, most of the profits go to labels. Alas, it’s been a fun way for fans like us to have access to more music. Just remember to go the shows and buy merch to help support under-the-radar artists like you’ll find here on Twangville. I’ve been using Rdio and I put this playlist together over the course of the year for you to enjoy with me. You should find one track from a variety of releases throughout 2013. If you like a song, I encourage you to dig in more on your own. Enjoy.

Stay tuned the next few weeks as we wrap up the year with some best of year posts. Enjoy your holidays and I hope you’ll continue to visit Twangville in 2014.