Thursday, December 12, 2013
After not touring for two decades, David Bromberg is very much on a roll.
David Bromberg kept making records, but took time off from touring for some 20 years while building his violin business in Delaware.
Steve Sandick photo
DAVID BROMBERG QUARTET WITH LARRY CAMPBELL
WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Stone Mountain Arts Center, 695 Dug Way Road, Brownfield
HOW MUCH: $50
INFO: 935-7292; stonemountainartscenter.com
The multi-instrumentalist and songwriter got the bug for playing out again a few years back, and has been nearly unstoppable since. In the last few months, he's been to Australia, Japan and Italy, dodging earthquakes and other assorted natural disasters.
On Saturday, Bromberg will be back in Maine to play with his band and guest guitarist Larry Campbell at Stone Mountain Arts Center in Brownfield.
"Larry is an old friend," Bromberg said by phone. "I produced some things where I called on him as a musician, and we have played together quite a bit. He's a great musician -- an extraordinary musician. But this is the first time I've been on the road with him. I expect that he's going to play on a lot of my tunes, and I will ask him to do a tune or two himself. I expect we will have some big fun."
It almost goes without saying that Bromberg will have some big fun. He is a riot in concert, often very funny and wry. And his skills as a guitarist are as sharp as ever.
By taking two decades off beginning around 1980, he avoided burnout. He runs a violin shop in Delaware, working mostly as an appraiser, although he is also a trained violin maker. Playing music is strictly his choice. It's not something he has to do to make a living.
That's why playing with someone like Campbell is such a treat. Like Bromberg, Campbell is a ridiculously gifted musician who can play just about anything with strings. Both guys have played with some of music's biggest stars over the years, including Bob Dylan, Jorma Kaukonen, Willie Nelson and the late Levon Helm.
Both are experienced and sought-after studio musicians and producers, and are adept at helping other musicians achieve a certain sound or vibe. They are both savants of a musical kind, with nurturing personalities that other musicians find comforting.
"Larry was Levon's right-hand man. Whenever I played Levon's Ramble up in New York, we would play together," Bromberg said.
Bromberg reflected briefly on Helm, who died this spring. "Levon was an old friend. I've known Levon longer than I have known Larry, in fact. It's a huge loss. It's a huge loss to me and a huge loss to people who like to listen to music, and the biggest loss is to his family. I really don't know what else to say.
"It hit me pretty hard, and I am sure I am not alone. It hit a lot of us hard."
Bromberg began making records in the 1970s, and quickly endeared himself to a wide array of musicians. He fell into the alternative country-folk realm, and was equally adept at playing bluegrass and the blues. He hooked up with Jerry Jeff Walker, John Prine, Carly Simon, Ritchie Havens, Gordon Lightfoot and Jonathan Edwards, among others, and released a spate of highly regarded records throughout the decade. And he's played with two of the four Beatles -- the late George Harrison and Ringo Starr.
Although he stopped touring on a regular basis around 1980, Bromberg continued making records. He was nominated for a Grammy Award for his 2007 CD, "Try Me One More Time." Last year, with Campbell producing a few tracks, he released "Use Me."
Now 66, Bromberg is enjoying himself musically as much as ever.
"You discover some new stuff all the time, at least I do," he said. "How to articulate that is difficult. It comes in different areas. You will discover something new about a lyric or something new about a melody or something new about to play something.
"There's no end to it, no bottom to it. No one will ever know it all. And you will learn every day."
Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or: