Saturday, November 4th, 2017 at 8:00 pm
|David Bromberg’s incredible journey spans five-and-a-half decades, and includes – but is not limited to – adventures with Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jerry Garcia, and music and life lessons from seminal blues guitarist Reverend Gary Davis, who claimed the young Bromberg as a son. A musician’s musician, Bromberg’s mastery of several stringed instruments (guitar, fiddle, Dobro, mandolin), and multiple styles is legendary, leading Dr. John to declare him an American icon. In producing John Hartford’s hugely influential Aereo-Plain LP, Bromberg even co-invented a genre: Newgrass.
That love is evident in his most recent release – The Blues, the Whole Blues, and Nothing but the Blues (2016). Bromberg and accompanist Larry Campbell focus on the music David discovered in high school – a friend’s dad’s collection of blues 78s. He’d only just taken up guitar as a means to pass the time while in bed with the measles. “I loved those 78s so much,” says David, “I taped them on a portable reel-to-reel, so I could listen at home and learn.” The album is both blues primer and an opportunity to witness a master embracing this distinctly American music with passion and grace.
Bromberg’s guitar work remains a marvel; amped electric lead – both slide and fretted – and delicately powerful acoustic fingerpicking propel his songs with the same force that made him the go-to guy for acts ranging from the Eagles to Link Wray to Phoebe Snow. Bromberg points out that his playing has changed over the years: “I play differently,” he says. “I can’t play as fast, but playing slower gives me more time to think about what I’m doing.”
Listeners can actually hear what the years have given Bromberg, with a more Spartan acoustic sound and a gravitas that only experience can bring. Longtime fans will notice another difference: Bromberg’s voice. The vocals cover a broad range: impassioned, vibrato-laden testifying; pew-jumping soul shouts; soft, confident, crooning; and, of course, his peerless raconteur chops. “When I first started,” Bromberg says, “singing was something I did between guitar solos. But during the period I did so little performing, I took some voice lessons, and now, I know more what I’m doing. I love singing now. Love it.”
As ever, David Bromberg brings his characteristic devotional intensity to his music, invigorating his current act with the same passion he felt as a teen, spinning those blues 78s.