Rather than the sounds of the latest Hollywood blockbuster, Edmond Town Hall Theatre was filled with the sweet sounds of Brown Bird, a folk duo comprising David Lamb and Newtown’s own MorganEve Swain, on Friday, August 3.
The concert was the third in the Live at Edmond Town Hall series to benefit the building’s restoration. Brown Bird opened this same show for The Low Anthem last August, and returned this year as headliners. They were supported by their opening act, New Haven-based band The Proud Flesh.
After playing to a crowd of thousands at the Newport Folk Festival the previous weekend, Brown Bird seemed right at home in the more intimate, comfortable setting of Edmond Town Hall. Of course for Newtown native Ms Swain, the theater truly felt like home with family and friends in the audience.
“It’s like a big reunion.” she said. “Being on tour can get tiring, so it’s nice to come home.”
Patrick Dalton of The Proud Flesh also had a homecoming experience with the Edmond Town Hall performance.
“Working concessions here was my first job when I was 13,” he said. “It’s nice being ‘heckled’ by the home crowd; I could pick out the voices and tell who was talking to me from the audience.”
The concert itself was something to remember: The Proud Flesh began the evening with a set of songs from their full-length effort, Tiny Picture Frames, shaking up the stage and engaging the audience with their current bluegrass and folk style.
Brown Bird took the stage to a torrent of applause; undoubtedly a mixture of longtime supporters and new fans that may have discovered the duo at last year’s Edmond Town Hall show or on their nationwide tour this year.
Hayden Bates, initiator and coordinator for the concert series, reported that the audience represented a much wider range than Newtown residents alone.
“We had attendees from all over New England; Massachusetts and Rhode Island were particularly well-represented. A couple even came from California,” said Mr Bates. For some, it was their time seeing the duo live, familiar with Brown Bird only through their first full-length album, Salt for Salt, which was recorded live. Ms Swain noted, “We wanted to capture the energy of a live performance. This is our first album as the two of us, so we had the freedom to do something like that.”
That energy was certainly evident in their performance on August 3. The multitalented Mr Lamb and Ms Swain remained at two chairs set up on the stage, but the presence and sound they created made it seem as if they were all around the auditorium space. As anyone with a background in performance can tell you, filling a stage with only two people is no small feat, but Brown Bird made it seem effortless.
“The sound was awesome on stage,” Mr Lamb said of the performance, “and the crowd was really responsive. With all those pieces thrown together it made for a great night.”
A great night has great benefits for Edmond Town Hall, as well. Mr Bates said the performance raised $3,000 for the theater, and profits will be used to upgrade its stage lights and sound systems. This year’s show brings the total raised by the Live at Edmond Town Hall series to $9,000.
“Profits from prior shows are headed toward a Blu-ray projector and electrical upgrades,” Mr Bates said.
With three successful shows behind them, including this year’s fantastic performance by Brown Bird and The Proud Flesh, the Live at Edmond Town Hall series looks to continue its efforts to bring great live entertainment to Newtown residents and restore a local landmark in the process.