On Saturday night, November 4, the David Bromberg Quintet will take the stage at Needham’s Great Hall.
David Bromberg’s incredible journey spans five-and-a-half decades, and includes – but is not limited to – adventures with Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jerry Garcia, and music and life lessons from seminal blues guitarist Reverend Gary Davis, who claimed the young Bromberg as a son. 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. That love is evident in his most recent release – “The Blues, the Whole Blues, and Nothing but the Blues” (2016). Bromberg and accompanist Larry Campbell focus on the music David discovered in high school – a friend’s dad’s collection of blues 78s. He’d only just taken up guitar as a means to pass the time while in bed with the measles.
“I loved those 78s so much,” says David, “I taped them on a portable reel-to-reel, so I could listen at home and learn.” The album is both blues primer and an opportunity to witness a master embracing this distinctly American music with passion and grace.
Bromberg’s guitar work remains a marvel; amped electric lead – both slide and fretted – and delicately powerful acoustic fingerpicking propel his songs with the same force that made him the go-to guy for acts ranging from the Eagles to Link Wray to Phoebe Snow. Bromberg points out that his playing has changed over the years: “I play differently,” he says. “I can’t play as fast, but playing slower gives me more time to think about what I’m doing.”
Listeners can actually hear what the years have given Bromberg, with a more Spartan acoustic sound and a gravitas that only experience can bring. Longtime fans will notice another difference: Bromberg’s voice. The vocals cover a broad range: impassioned, vibrato-laden testifying; pew-jumping soul shouts; soft, confident, crooning; and, of course, his peerless raconteur chops. “When I first started,” Bromberg says, “singing was something I did between guitar solos. But during the period I did so little performing, I took some voice lessons, and now, I know more what I’m doing. I love singing now. Love it.”
As ever, David Bromberg brings his characteristic devotional intensity to his music, invigorating his current act with the same passion he felt as a teen, spinning those blues 78s.
“We are thrilled by the support and response of our sponsors,” said Michael Greis, Co- President of the Great Hall Performance Foundation. “Thanks to our sponsors and our loyal season-ticket holders, we are able to bring these terrific acts to Needham at a reasonable price. I want to thank our Series Sponsor, The Needham Bank; our corporate sponsors – Louise Condon Realty, Petrini Corporation and The Needham Sheraton.”
The goal of the Needham Bank Great Hall Concert Series is to provide great professional concerts close to home, while promoting the preservation of a cherished Needham landmark, driving economic growth in Needham, and elevating the stature and awareness of the Needham High School Music Program. Students are involved in all facets of concert series planning, production and performance; Needham High School musicians open for the featured performers. Limited tickets will be available at the door.