Barnaby Bright

I’m at the Me & Thee Coffeehouse in Marblehead—the longest-running coffeehouse in a UU church on tiny Mugford Street, the host likes to call it, when a cute-as-a-button couple takes the stage—he with fuzzy hair and a guitar, she with a killer smile and a squeezebox—and harmonizes like nobody’s business. The ballads of Barnaby Bright (Nathan and Becky Bliss) are haunting and beautiful, but it’s the way they look at each other that gets you. You know they’re thinking, How lucky are we to be married and singing every night together? You hear “Brooklyn” and think, hipsters. But they grew up in Kansas, moved to Brooklyn, and are now back in Kansas, and you realize they’re the real deal, not a handlebar moustache in sight.

I haven’t been to this coffeehouse in years since I had a boyfriend who liked folk and we’d make pilgrimages to this small town on the coast to hear Ellis Paul or The Nields. Now I live 10 minutes away and am reminded how music is magical when played on the altar of a church—and even better when the theme is about sex or politics and sung at full volume from the pulpit.


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