Old folkies never die, their machines just stop killing fascists.
Luckily, David Bromberg was never that kind of folkie; he was lumped in with the Folk movement by virtue of his occasional acoustic approach and covers of traditional Folk tunes. In fact, although Bromberg has peppered his style with Bluegrass, Folk, Celtic, Country, Jazz and Rock throughout his career, he was schooled in the Blues by the legendary Reverend Gary Davis while studying at Columbia University in the ‘60s. During the ‘70s, Bromberg’s mix of Blues, Rock and Folk on his string of great albums (David Bromberg, Demon in Disguise, Wanted Dead or Alive, Midnight on the Water) and his association with the Grateful Dead (which played on a number of his albums), made him a staple of progressive late-night FM radio.
In the ‘60s and ‘70s, Bromberg was also one of the most ubiquitous session musicians in the business; his credits include albums by Bob Dylan, Carly Simon, John Prine, Willie Nelson, Phoebe Snow, Ringo Starr and The Eagles, among dozens of others. In the ‘80s, Bromberg set aside his own career and concentrated on session work, finally returning to the studio for 2007’s Grammy-nominated Try Me One More Time, his first album in 17 years.
Bromberg’s last album, 2011’s Use Me, was an all-star affair, with songs and performances from Levon Helm, John Hiatt, Dr. John, Los Lobos, Widespread Panic and Linda Ronstadt. His newest album, the just-released Only Slightly Mad, is a showcase for his touring band with help from the late Levon Helm’s recording-and-road team, including Grammy-winning producer/guitarist Larry Campbell. The result is an album with the breadth, brilliance and humor of his early work, as Bromberg and his incredible collaborators present a set that touches on the genres he’s translated so well over the years, from the Gospel wisdom of “I’ll Rise Again” to the eight-minute Blues vamp of “I’ll Take You Back,” featuring the great line, “When Bootsy ain’t funky and King Kong ain’t a monkey, I’ll take you back.”
Bromberg may be the most famous nobody in music, but he’s somebody you can’t afford to miss.
DAVID BROMBERG B AND performs Thursday, Oct. 10 with Honey & Houston at 20th Century Theater in Oakley. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here .