Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Musicians Dave and Dan Simpson attracted a crowd that filled Parrish Parlors last Friday as they played piano, recited poetry, and recounted some of their lives’ adventures. The Simpsons are twin brothers, born blind, whose various pursuits include playing fourhanded piano together in the Philly area.
Global Neighbors (GN), a campus group focused on raising awareness about disabilities, organized the performance. “We thought the campus would appreciate it,” said GN member Chris Capron ’15. “It was a fun event to raise awareness . . . [It showed that] there are blind musicians, there are blind poets.”
Throughout the show, the Simpsons gave listeners an accessible window into their past and present experiences. They spoke in a humorous and sometimes self-deprecating way about their pasts, performed energetic musical interludes ranging from Bach to the Beatles, and recited poems relating to various moments and misadventures in their lives.
“I thoroughly enjoyed their pure harmonies and humble reflections on their journey,” Julia Carleton ’15 said over email.
Dan and Dave’s lives led surprisingly parallel tracks. At separate universities, each decided to pursue a degree in music and each continued their organ studies after graduation. After playing for many years and experiencing the challenge of trying to make ends meet as a professional blind musician, both brothers independently became involved with computer programming and, ultimately, English literature.
“I really enjoyed hearing their stories and seeing how they perceive the world,” Damella Dotan ’15 said. “It was interesting trying to imagine the world in their shoes” she reflected after the show.
A crowd favorite was Dan Simpson’s poem “Spring Fever” about the unexpectedly intimate experience of being led about in a convenience store by a young sales clerk. While purchasing other items he reflected that he internally reminded himself to purchase “condoms! condoms! condoms!” and that after purchasing them with the clerk’s assistance he felt that “for a moment, they were ours.”
After a rousing finale of the Beatles “I Saw Her Standing There,” audience members were given a chance to mingle and speak with the Simpsons.
Photos by Ellen Sanchez-Huerta/The Daily Gazette.