LIVE: David Bromberg Big Band @ Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, 11/10/18
Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
David Bromberg is one of my favorite musicians, singers and performers on the planet. If you’re not familiar with his music, it might be because he’s hard to nail down to just one style of music. He traverses the complete spectrum of musical genres, traveling between bluegrass, old-style country, folk, singer-songwriter stuff, R&B, soul, acoustic and electric blues… and the list goes on.
After a few numbers at the hallowed Troy Savings Bank Music Hall recently, he asked the nearly sold-out audience if his music was what they expected (and what it was they thought they would get). Well, what they got with Dave Bromberg’s Big Band was every style of music they could imagine, and it was a sheer delight.
To give you an idea of what other musicians think of Bromberg you need to get just one of his albums to really know the range of his music and talents – Use Me, where Bromberg and his bandmates are joined by a collection of such diverse musicians as Levon Helm, John Hiatt, Tim O’Brien, Dr. John, Keb’ Mo,’ Los Lobos, Widespread Panic, Linda Rondstadt and Vince Gill. It’s a grand album, and in my words, pure genius.
On a personal note about how I came upon Bromberg’s music: I was 12 (that’s 45+ years ago), and The First Great Rock Festival of the Seventies: Isle of Wight/Atlanta Pop Festival had just been released. I bought the three-record set with hard earned money from mowing my neighbor’s lawns. There were tunes by Mountain, the Allman Brothers, Cactus and many blues and hard rockers on that live set, but the song that moved me to tears was the mournful and empathetic version of Jerry Jeff Walker’s “Mr. Bojangles,” sung by Bromberg with his acoustic guitar in front of, like, 50 thousand people. It blew me away!
The Troy Savings Bank Music Hall show was my 12th time seeing Bromberg in all kinds of various band formations, including a solo outing. Each concert has been a pleasure, catapulting me into the stratosphere. It’s hard to believe that he had retired from touring for well over two decades and spent his time making violins in his
shop in Delaware. All I can say is that at age 75, it’s good to have him back and on the road again.
And it was great to have Loudon Wainwright III open the show. He and Bromberg are old friends, and Wainwright is a consummate singer-songwriter in his own right.