David Bromberg Biography
“The reason man created stringed instruments. David touched them with a lover’s fingers and they moaned that true love right back at him. Wood and wire and flesh spoke.”
–      Jerry Jeff Walker on David Bromberg

Summer 2013: record heat wave, prolonged economic slump, music business under frontal assault. A bonafide legend could be forgiven for wanting to coast a bit or ride off into the sunset, but that’s not how this narrative goes: ladies & gentlemen, allow us to re-introduce David Bromberg, the Godfather of Americana, and his new album Only Slightly Mad, which will be released by Appleseed Recordings on September 24th.

 You can tell a lot about a person from the company he keeps. When that company has included Bob Dylan, The Beastie Boys, George Harrison, Emmylou Harris, Doc Watson, John Hiatt, Jerry Garcia, Reverend Gary Davis, Dr. John, Pete Seeger, Willie Nelson, John Prine, Phoebe Snow, Jerry Jeff Walker, and Mississippi John Hurt, you realize you’re dealing with a very special case.

 Bromberg was 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.”

 David began studying guitar at age thirteen and eventually enrolled in Columbia University as a musicology major. 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.

 Bromberg’s sensitive and versatile approach to guitar-playing earned him jobs playing the Village “basket houses” for tips, the occasional paying gig, and employment as a backing musician for Tom Paxton, Jerry Jeff Walker and Rosalie Sorrels, among others. He became a first-call, “hired gun” guitarist for recording sessions, ultimately playing on hundreds of records by artists including Bob Dylan (New Morning, Self Portrait, Dylan), Link Wray, The Eagles, Ringo Starr, Willie Nelson, and Carly Simon.
An unexpected and wildly successful solo spot for 600,000 concert goers at the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival in Great Britain led to a solo deal with Columbia Records, for whom David recorded four albums. His eponymous 1971 debut included “The Holdup,” a songwriting collaboration with former Beatle George Harrison, who also played slide guitar on the track. David also met the Grateful Dead and wound up with four of their members playing on his next two albums.

Bromberg’s material, based in the folk and blues idioms, continually expanded with each new album to encompass bluegrass, ragtime, country and ethnic music, and his touring band grew apace. By the mid-’70s, the David Bromberg Big Band included horn players, a violinist, and several multi-instrumentalists, including David himself.

Despite sold-out concerts and a string of acclaimed albums on the Fantasy label, Bromberg found himself exhausted by the logistics of the music business. “I decided to change the direction of my life,” he explains. So David dissolved his band in 1980, and he and his artist/musician wife, Nancy Josephson, moved from Northern California to Chicago, where David attended the Kenneth Warren School of Violin Making. Though he still toured periodically, the recordings slowed to a trickle and then stopped.
After “too many Chicago winters,” in 2002 David and Nancy were lured to Wilmington, Del., where they became part of the city’s artist-in-residence program and where David could establish David Bromberg Fine Violins, a retail store and repair shop for high quality instruments. Frequent participation in the city’s weekly jam sessions helped rekindle Bromberg’s desire to make music again, as did the encouragement of fellow musicians Chris Hillman (The Byrds, Desert Rose Band, Flying Burrito Brothers) and bluegrass wizard Herb Pedersen.

With the release of the Grammy-nominated 'Try Me One More Time,' his 2007 solo return to the studio, David continued his musical revitalization, playing shows on his own, with the David Bromberg Quartet, and reunions of the David Bromberg Big Band. In 2009, spurred by a suggestion from John Hiatt that he come to Hiatt’s Nashville studio to "mess around," David came up with the idea for 'Use Me' - an album featuring David with Hiatt and other friends like Levon Helm, Los Lobos, Tim O’Brien, Vince Gill, Widespread Panic, Dr. John, Keb’ Mo’ and Linda Ronstadt. Each guest artist either wrote or selected a song and then produced David’s interpretation of their suggested tune, thereby fulfilling David’s request to ‘Use Me’. Partially detailing the proceedings, filmmaker Beth Kruvant directed a compelling film documentary David Bromberg; Unsung Treasure, which is currently circulating at US and Canadian film festivals.

In 2013, content with the balance of both his violin business and performing career, David was ready to record again with his live band. Enlisting old friend Larry Campbell (three-time Grammy-winning producer for Levon Helm and multi-instrumentalist with Bob Dylan) and engineer Justin Guip, David and his group entered Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock, NY, in March 2013. Enlisting some of Helm's former recording and touring musicians for added instrumentation, the David Bromberg Band emerged twelve days later with 'Only Slightly Mad,' a return to his genre-bending albums of the Seventies and Eighties. Bromberg fans will find blues, bluegrass, gospel, folk, Irish fiddle tunes, pop and English drinking songs happily coexisting as they can only on a Bromberg album. For newcomers, Only Slightly Mad will be an introduction to an astonishing performer whose range and musical depth have delighted devoted audiences for over forty years and will for many years hence.


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#68 Nancy 2015-01-25 19:21
LOVED your concert last night in Fort Lauderdale. Thanks so much for starting to perform once again. I loved you 20 something years ago and you are still awesome. Your band is also amazing. What's the name of the violinist?
Love your music David Bromberg.
#67 Bill Hall 2014-11-15 23:25
We (daughter, wife and me) saw David and the Big Band last night at the Birchmere. Absolutely great show. I don't i've missed a single Birchmere appearance since the seventies. He keeps getting better.
#66 David 2014-11-01 03:57
Never thought I would get another opportunity to see David play live. I was especially thrilled to see him in a small venue in the backwoods of Ontario. The Halloween show at the Neat Café in Burnstown will long last as a wonderful reunion with a man who shaped us in the seventies. Thanks for making the effort.
#65 Jan 2014-09-27 04:02
Fantastic show tonight at Infinity Hall, Norfolk, CT. Great band, terrific venue. WOW!
#64 Bob 2014-08-14 15:53
I produced a small show with him at The Place in Eugene Oregon in the mid-70's. He put on a spectacular show! A very special person and musician. He's on tour, GO SEE HIM! You will not be disappointed.
#63 Karen Hall-Gist 2014-07-28 13:12
I fell madly in love with Bromberg's music in 1972 and have introduced his songs and his style to so many people over the years. I still think he's the best!
#62 Peter Miller 2014-05-12 02:57
Just saw David and the band at Rams Head in Annapolis this evening. Brought another couple who were not familiar with David's music. The said "That may be the best music we have ever heard!" New converts and devoted fans. Thanks for bring your music to Annapolis, David!
#61 Stephen Baranowski 2014-04-15 18:26
David is my all time favorite live artist. I will be going to see the Big Band on April 26th. My 24 year old daughter is coming with me and I can't wait for her to experience this one of a kind performer!
#60 andrea gray 2014-04-14 23:33
Just heard David in western massachusetts and still love him. We have followed him in Minnesota, New York, Connecticut, Maine, and here in MA. You are our ALL TIME favorite. Please keep on keepin' on!
#59 Cheryl 2014-04-06 02:34
Saw David and his talented band in Buffalo last night. To be honest, the only DB song I knew before yesterday was "Testify". My husband, however, has been a fan since he first saw David in Los Angeles in the early 80's. Went to the concert expecting to be slightly bored and tolerating the music vs. enjoying it. However, I loved every single moment! David is a captivating pretense - funny, witty, and talented. While I was disappointed he did not do "Testify", I still enjoyed every moment. I hope David makes it around to WNY again soon. Til then, God bless! Buffalo setlist below. I'll take you back was my fav.

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