BERZERKERS, a short film premiering Friday, April 24, will feature the story of Rhode Island’s Brown Bird and how their music came to serve as an inspiration for a chef 700 miles away.
Brown Bird was a folk duo featuring MorganEve Swain and her late husband, Dave Lamb. Lamb passed away from leukemia in April 2014, less than a year after he and Swain were married and the band had begun to find national success. James Rigato is the chef behind Mabel Gray, a celebrated restaurant just north of Detroit. So how does he fit in with a band from Little Rhody?
“The idea did seem like a stretch initially,” said Swain. “James had emailed me with this kind of long manifesto about how much he loves Brown Bird and how it inspired his restaurant and career.”
But Swain, who now plays bass in The Devil Makes Three and fronts her own group, The Huntress and the Holder of Hands, was won over. “After meeting him, it totally made sense how his passion as a music lover could inspire what he’s doing at the restaurant.”
Swain visited Mabel Gray (named for a Brown Bird song) while on tour. “On the restaurant walls are painted Brown Bird lyrics and a mural of a flowering cabbage with ‘RIP Dave Lamb’ hidden in the leaves.”
A quick Google search reveals that Rigato is something of a celebrity chef, having appeared on the program “Top Chef” and involved in a bevy of online interviews. “No band or artist of any medium has influenced my creativity more than Brown Bird,” Rigato said. “After more than four years of cooking at Mabel Gray, it was time I sent them this love letter.”
“BERZERKERS was James’s idea; he wanted my blessing and didn’t want to do it without me, but I was definitely a little bit shy at first about having a film made about the band’s story,” said Swain. The film features extensive interviews with Swain and a brief history of the band, then explains how Rigato came to be a fan.
“I wanted to have that spontaneity and that freedom and just that whimsical nature, and I think that’s what I pulled most from Brown Bird,” Rigato says in the film. “I appreciated that spontaneity and that pushback to conformity and I just wanted to join the party… I wanted to create in the name of.”
“Ultimately, James’s intention with the film was to meet and check in on me and let me know how much Dave’s and my love and work was still living on in someone else’s passion,” said Swain. “I think it’s a great example about how we’re all creative beings and things across mediums can speak to us for different reasons — it’s a beautiful way to connect to people.”
BERZERKERS will have its world premiere at the Freep Film Festival on Friday, April 24. Visit freepfilmfestival.com for showtimes and location(s).