Considering how long his live performing career was on hiatus while he holed up in Chicago studying the art of violinmaking (1980-2002), it’s always a great treat to have another excuse to say, “David Bromberg’s back.” He returned to the studio in 2007 – chops not merely intact but sharper than ever – and cut his most recent album, 2013’s Only Slightly Mad, right here in Woodstock: at the Levon Helm Studios, produced by longtime buddy and sometime sideman Larry Campbell. Bromberg returns to this neck of the woods this Saturday, August 27 for a concert at the Bearsville Theater.
If you’ve ever seen him perform live, even once, to say anything more would be preaching to the choir. You already know why Jerry Jeff Walker dubbed David Bromberg “the reason man created stringed instruments.” If the early part of his career was before your time or you somehow otherwise missed it, here are the Bromberg basics: He plays mostly guitar, but can also sling a mandolin, Dobro or fiddle with ease and grace, stunning dexterity and deep feeling. He can slip from one musical style to another in a heartbeat and deliver it with total mastery, from blues to bluegrass, with stops at gospel, R & B, ragtime, Celtic, Tin Pan Alley pop, Grand Ole Opry country, klezmer, rockabilly, old-timey jazz, Western swing and just about any other genre that you can think of in between. Even within the blues idiom, he’s equally adept at fingerpicked acoustic country blues, down-and-dirty barrelhouse slide guitar and Big Band Chicago style.
He has a genius for surrounding himself with bandmates who are every bit as technically proficient as he is; any group formed of former Bromberg sidemen is a supergroup almost by default. The currently touring David Bromberg Band still consists of the core group that cut Only Slightly Mad, including Mark Cosgrove on guitar, mandolin and vocals, Robert “Butch” Amoit on bass and vocals, Nate Grower on fiddle, guitar, mandolin and vocals and Josh Kanusky on drums and vocals. Besides singing, playing electric and acoustic guitar, mandolin and fiddle, their leader is also a consummate showman with a sly sense of humor. There is never a Bromberg show that doesn’t send the audience back out onto the streets at the end with big grins on their faces. Expect to hear some new material and plenty of road-tested favorites. Expect to be thoroughly entertained.
The David Bromberg Quintet plays the Bearsville Theater at 291 Tinker Street in Woodstock beginning at 9 p.m. this Saturday, August 27; the doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $20, $35 and $45. For reservations, call (845) 679-4406 or visit www.bearsvilletheater.com.