It is all about the blues for Americana godfather David Bromberg. He has played with everyone, toured everywhere, and can lead a raucous big band or hold an audience silent with a solo acoustic blues. He is the master of multiple stringed instruments that he uses to guide audiences on an incredible musical journey. For his performance at the Hall, Bromberg is joined by his Big Band.
Born in Philadelphia in 1945 and raised in Tarrytown, NY, “as a kid I listened to rock ’n’ roll and whatever else was on the radio,” says Bromberg. “I discovered Pete Seeger and The Weavers and, through them, Reverend Gary Davis. I then discovered Big Bill Broonzy, who led me to Muddy Waters and the Chicago blues. This was more or less the same time I discovered Flatt and Scruggs, which led to Bill Monroe and Doc Watson.”
Bromberg began studying guitar-playing when he was 13 and eventually enrolled in Columbia University as a musicology major. The call of the Greenwich Village folk scene in the mid-60s drew David to the downtown clubs and coffeehouses, where he could watch and learn from the best performers, including primary sources such as his inspiration and teacher, the Reverend Gary Davis.
His incredible journey spans five-and-a-half decades, and includes adventures with Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jerry Garcia. 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.
During a period of self-imposed exile from his passion (1980-2002), he opened a shop in Wilmington, Delaware, called David Bromberg Fine Violins, and became a renowned violin expert. In 2002 he made a triumphant return to music-making and since then has been unstoppable! Bromberg’s musical revitalization has him playing shows on his own, or with his own David Bromberg Quartet. He also has reunions of the David Bromberg Big Band, which we are thrilled to host onstage here at the Hall. Listen for that joyful noise – David Bromberg’s back!
Bromberg’s special guest for this performance is Loudon Wainwright. Wainwright’s long and illustrious career is highlighted by more than two dozen album releases, movie and TV credits, and now his new autobiography, Liner Notes (2017 Penguin/Random House). In 2010 he won a Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Album for High Wide & Handsome: The Charlie Poole Project. His 2012 recording, Older Than My Old Man Now, was named one of NPR’s Top 10 Albums of the Year. In 2014, Haven’t Got the Blues (Yet), marks his the 26th career release to-date.
Wainwright is perhaps best known for the novelty song “Dead Skunk (in the Middle of the Road)”, and for playing Captain Calvin Spalding, the “singing surgeon”, on the American television show, M*A*S*H.
His songs have been recorded by Bonnie Raitt, Johnny Cash, Earl Scruggs, Kate & Anna McGarrigle, Rufus Wainwright, and Mose Allison. He has collaborated with songwriter/producer Joe Henry, on the music for Judd Apatow’s hit movie Knocked Up. Loudon penned music for the British theatrical adaptation of the Carl Hiaasen novel Lucky You. He composed topical songs for NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered and ABC’s Nightline, and recorded several songs for the soundtrack of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire.
As an actor, Wainwright has appeared in films directed by Martin Scorsese, Hal Ashby, Christopher Guest, Tim Burton, Cameron Crowe, and Judd Apatow.