David Bromberg to Perform in Concert at Town Hall with Bettye Lavette
A musician's musician, master of the guitar, the mandolin, the fiddle and several other stringed instruments, David Bromberg is a one-of-a-kind figure in popular music. He will celebrate his 72nd birthday and his new blues-rooted CD with a special performance at The Town Hall in New York City on Saturday, September 23 featuring the David Bromberg Big Band and special guest R&B singer Bettye Lavette.
Bromberg's extraordinary career spans five and half decades. He has shared studios and stages with artists such as Bob Dylan, Jerry Jeff Walker, The Eagles, George Harrison, and Jerry Garcia; he learned fingerpicking and more from seminal singer and guitarist Reverend Gary Davis, and once toured with the incomparable Mississippi John Hurt.
He became both an in-demand sideman and a bandleader in his own right and his brilliant work with roots music helped define Americana in the 70s. But by 1980, after two years nearly constantly on the road, he decided to stop performing. "I just felt burnt out," he told an interviewer. "I had to find another way to live life." He retreated from the concert stage for more than two decades, from 1980 to 2002, and took time to learn about violin construction and repair, eventually opening his own store in Wilmington, Delaware.
After tiptoeing back to performing at his own pace by appearing occasionally with a quartet and hosting a local jam session, Bromberg returned to recording in 2007 with the release of Try Me One More Time, and has released three more albums since, including last year's The Blues, the Whole Blues & Nothing But The Blues, which will be showcased in the NYC show.
His return to recording and performing was enthusiastically received. "The fluid, orchestral invention of Bromberg's fingerpicking ... is in undiminishEd Bloom, invigorating sturdy old blues and ballads," wrote David Fricke in Rolling Stone.
The Chicago Tribune noted that "Bromberg's guitar playing is as agile as ever, and ... Bromberg's vocals sound bigger, freer and friskier than ever."
On Saturday, September 23, Bromberg will bring all that history to The Town Hall for a joyous birthday concert celebration. It will be Bromberg's first appearance in New York City since the release of The Blues, the Whole Blues & Nothing But The Blues and his only show in the city this year.
Born in Philadelphia and raised in Tarrytown, NY, Bromberg attended Columbia University, and took lessons from the influential Rev. Gary Davis, whom he met at a coffee house on Bleecker Street. The blind master quickly became a key figure in David's musical and personal development. Conversely, Bromberg, as he proudly notes in interviews, became "Davis' Seeing Eye dog," taking him to concerts and church gatherings. Davis died in 1972. "He opened my ears and mind to subtlety," Bromberg recalled in a recent interview.
While Bromberg has often been called "The Godfather of Americana", in the beginning, it was the blues. 'I'm a bluesman, always have been," he says.
Blues was the music he discovered in high school, back in the late 50s, as he was introduced to a collection of blues 78s belonging to a friend's father. It became the core of his eclectic approach.
He considers The Blues, the Whole Blues & Nothing But The Blues, as his best work on record. No less an authority than DownBeat Magazine agreed, naming it "Best Blues Album" in their 65th Annual Critics Poll.
For his birthday celebration at The Town Hall (for the record, he was born Sept. 19, 1945), Bromberg will call on the powerful R&B and soul singer Bettye Lavette, whose five-decade career includes recording for Atlantic and Motown, singing in the TONY Award-winning Broadway musical, "Bubbling Brown Sugar" and performing at President Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration.
"Bettye is one of the most incredible R&B singers singing today," said Bonnie Raitt. "Ache has never sounded so funky." George Jones, who marveled at her version of "Choices," called her "a singer's singer."
LaVette will open this concert with a set of her own music and join Bromberg for a duet later in the show.
DAVID BROMBERG BIG BAND | Birthday Celebration with Bettye Lavette
Saturday, September 23, 2017 * 8:00pm
Photo credit: Bandshell Artists