On tour about eight years ago, fiddler MorganEve Swain found more than the usual memories and pay for her trouble. She met David Lamb, the man who would eventually become both her romantic and musical partner in the duo Brown Bird, playing the Ogden Nature Center on Thursday, June 28.
"Dave was playing a solo tour under the name Brown Bird at that time, and our bands met up in Virginia," said Swain, speaking from the duo's Rhode Island home. "The first night there, I sat in for a few, and then sat in more and more. And in the end, about four years ago, he moved in."
Swain handles a wide array of string instruments for the band, and Lamb plays guitars and various percussion instruments. Lamb is also a prolific songwriter, which makes it fun and challenging to work with him, Swain said.
"He writes constantly. He is actually writing right now," she said. "But at the first, the intrigue for me was that he was playing guitar along with his kick drum, tambourine and woodblock. A lot of these guys now are doing something like it with varying levels of success, but he is actually very good at it. He comes up with incredible beats. Then I find he writes these incredibly poetic lyrics. And the subject matters -- rooted in the battle of good and evil, religious and spiritual imagery. Complicated and beautiful stuff."
The couple's latest album, their fifth, is "Salt for Salt," released in 2011.
According to Jonathan Sanders, reviewing the work for No Depression magazine, "This is the folk album for people who love folk music and want it to remain devoid of anything commercial, a blistering testimonial recorded live to tape, capturing the band's emotionally rich, honest musical missive."
But this album is by no means folk alone, said Swain.
"We wanted to bring in music we were listening to," she said. "A lot of our earlier stuff is a lot mellower. But on this record, with just the two of us, we were like, let's bring in influences from blues and rock and metal. Just play with our resources and do everything, really."
Swain said they didn't plan songs out, so far as what style they were. They let the pieces evolve.
"It was more like, 'I have this line, what do you think of it?' -- following that where it went, not so much 'This song will be a rock song.' "
On "Salt for Salt," Swain, who has made her mark with the fiddle, delved into some big strings for a few cuts -- a cello and double bass.
"Dave got me the cello three years ago. It was a surprise -- a Christmas present. I had always talked about wanting to play cello, and there was a cellist in the band before me. So I had those parts to start with."
The bass, Swain said, all but fell into their hands.
"A friend of ours was working at a music shop and called me and said, 'I have this beautiful bass, it is small and old.' "
When Swain saw it, she knew it was time for a big splurge.
"So, once I had them, the cello started me filling in parts that already existed, and the bass was more like, 'Well, now we have this bass, what are we going to do with it?' "
Brown Bird has played Salt Lake City a few times, but never Ogden. Swain thinks the band's music will fit nicely with the outdoor setting of the Ogden Nature Center. And she warns folks to expect some excitement from the stage.
"This is a pretty high-energy show," she said. "We use a lot of instruments, and there is no one genre you can say we are. I think people will like it -- and we are really looking forward to playing there."