David Bromberg in Concert
David Bromberg plays bluegrass, blues, folk, jazz, country and western, and rock and roll, on a variety of instruments. As a singer-songwriter, he is known for his quirky, humorous lyrics–what Blues Magazine calls his “cheerful, deadpan New York Jewish comedic delivery”. He has long been admired and sought after by other recording musicians for his ability to play rhythm and lead guitar at the same time. Brooklyn-born and now age 71, Bromberg has for the past two decades been the proud proprietor of a famed violin sales-and-repairs shop in Wilmington, Delaware, yet he has never left off active engagement with performing music on his trademark guitar, and he has never diverted from his life-long love affair with The Blues. His latest album release is titled “The Blues, the Whole Blues & Nothing But the Blues”.
Bromberg was a star of the NY City “folk revival” of the 1960s, and he has been praised as “The Godfather of Americana”. Yet, as he told reporter Iain Patience of Blues Magazine, Bromberg toured with Mississippi John Hurt and B.B. King and learned his finger-picking guitar style from veteran bluesman Rev. Gary Davis.
Bromberg has played with Jerry Jeff Walker, Willie Nelson, Jorma Kaukonen, Jerry Garcia, Rusty Evans (The Deep), and Bob Dylan. He co-wrote the song “The Holdup” with former Beatle George Harrison, who played on Bromberg’s self-titled 1972 album. In 2008, he was nominated for a Grammy Award. His interpretation of Jerry Jeff Walker’s song, “Mr. Bojangles” is definitive, and the hallmark of Bromberg’s recording and performing career.
A true master of multiple musical genres and styles, David Bromberg rather humbly describes himself as “a bluesman” and tells Blues Magazine, “I always try to make the music more accessible. I try to be open, to communicate with creativity.
The David Bromberg Quintet performed a rousing show, with many surprises, to a packed house in the grand concert hall of Albuquerque’s National Hispanic Cultural Center. The opening act, the Austin Shaw Band, featuring Irishman Brian O’Connell on percussion, warmed up and delighted the audience with tight playing, smooth vocals, great hooks and Austin Shaw’s original songs such as “Cistrene” from their latest album.
David Bromberg opened his featured set playing electric slide guitar with his band, ambling through “Walkin’ Blues”.Two lead guitars and an amplified fiddle, drums and bass. David sang the Robert Johnson lyric, “She got Elgin movements from her head down to her toes,” and added an enthusiastic if redundant shout: “She moves like a fine watch!”
Then the band dove into “Just Like a Submarine” by Littlehead Jones. David then explained his group’s modus operandi: “We get on stage and we try to think of songs we haven’t played in months—and then we play those!” Laughing and delivering a friendly shout-out to KUNM Blues Show host Putnay Thomas in the audience, David then rolled into “All I Can Feel Is Gone” and “The First Time the Girl Quit Me”, followed by more blues by Furry Lewis, Johnny Gimble and others.
David paused about half way through the show for a very serious comment on current events. He noted that at a time when many American troops are “embedded” in the armies of our allies in the Middle East, our new President, Mr. Trump, has announced that America may go back in and “take the oil”. “That made me fear for our soldiers,” said David, shaking his head, “Because they are beside people who don’t want America to steal their oil.”
Then David launched into “A Long Goodbye”, which he described as “ a song that Los Lobos gave us.” Nate Grover’s fiddle and Mark Cosgrove’s mandolin complimented David’s work on acoustic and electric guitars and the entire quintet delivered a long, lovely rendition of “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow.” And the band whirled through the old English drinking song, “I’m the Strongest Man Alive”, and on into “Turkey in the Straw” with David and Mark Cosgrove indulging in a rousing bout of twin flat-pick guitar weaving that would have made Keith Richards proud. David than gave us his subtle solo rendition of Bob Dylan’s “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry” and then the full band returned for a grand cover of Ian Tyson’s “Summer Wages”.
With a second shout out to blues-fan Putnay Thomas, David and his band ended their set with a grand blues, “I’ll Be Your Friend, But I Refuse to Be Your Fool”. Then they returned with their stunning encore: “Roll On John”. As we all rolled out of the hall, there was many a smiling face.
A rare good time was had by all, not least by the members of the David Bromberg Quintet.