The first thing I notice when I walk into the kitchen is that MorganEve Swain looks smaller than usual.
Granted, I’ve usually encountered her at shows, looking up at her on stage behind her bass or cello, but even the few times we’ve interacted prior to this meeting she’s seemed, for lack of a better word, sturdier.
She looks smaller and tired and, above all, scared.
With good reason.
Just a few days ago she and fiancé/Brown Bird bandmate Dave Lamb were on a headlining national tour in support of their new album, when Lamb was stricken once more by a long, on-again/off-again illness, cutting their Houston show short and sending him to the hospital.
“He was white, so white,” Swain says, tapping the pasty linoleum next to her for emphasis. “His lips were gray, and he couldn’t get enough breath.”
The doctors in Houston recognized immediately that Lamb was anemic.
“A normal person’s hemoglobin is around 14, and he was at 3.4,” Swain says.
After a series of tests, including a bone marrow biopsy, it was decided to cut the tour short and head back to their home state of Rhode Island, where they arrived on Sunday.
Lamb immediately made more appointments with local doctors and was seen by several specialists on Monday, who ran more tests, including another bone marrow biopsy.
“They’ve only given us the results of some of the tests,” Swain notes, adding that nothing conclusive had been determined as yet.
For now the band’s tour is on hold, which leaves them in a financially compromised situation.
“We make most of our money, our living, off merch sales and touring”—Swain’s stress can be heard in her voice as she says this—“We’ve seen a bump in online sales since this happened, but definitely not enough to survive.”
While the band has recently incorporated itself, it has yet to get health insurance. This means that Lamb’s hospital and doctor visits will come out of pocket, an amount already in the tens of thousands of dollars.
To this end they have set up a donation page here, and are asking people to give what they can. There are also several benefit shows in the works, including one on June 7 with Joe Fletcher and JP Harris at the Columbus Theatre in Providence, R.I. Alongside the music, there will be an art and photo silent auction.
Swain understands that not everyone has the means to donate financially to their cause, but urges all Brown Bird fans to “go out and donate blood. It may not help Dave directly, but it will help someone like him.”
Follow Brown Bird on Twitter for updates at @brownbirdmusic.