For Americana godfather David Bromberg, it all began with the blues.
Bromberg's incredible journey spans over 50 years, and includes 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.
Add in a period of self-imposed exile from his passion (1980-2002), during which he became a renowned violin expert, and Wilmington, Delaware’s cultural ambassador; top that off with a triumphant return to music-making, and you have an amazing tale leading back to one place: the blues.
Bromberg’s guitar work remains a marvel; amped electric lead – both slide and fretted – and delicately powerful acoustic fingerpicking propel these songs with the same force that made him the go-to guy for acts ranging from the Eagles to Link Wray to Phoebe Snow. This is a man who can go full-on Chicago gutbucket with “You Don’t Have to Go” (a Bromberg original), then slay with the jazz inflections of Ray Charles’ “A Fool for You,” rendered here intimately solo. Although Bromberg points out he’s not the same guitarist he was before his two decades away from performing and recording. “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.”
Although he remains the proprietor of the beloved David Bromberg Fine Violins in Wilmington, Delaware – “I love my shop,” he says – Bromberg makes time to tour with his quintet, and he’s already included every song in his live repertoire (save “Yield Not,” which requires a choir), from The Blues, the Whole Blues and Nothing But the Blues. As ever, he brings his characteristic devotional intensity to the music, invigorating his surprise third act with the same passion he felt as a teen, spinning those blues 78s, just before the road called.
David celebrates his birthday at Town Hall again, with special guest soul singer Bettye LaVette
Bettye LaVette is no mere singer. She is an interpreter of the highest order.
Whether the song originated as country, rock, pop, or blues, when she gets
through with it, it is pure R&B. She gets inside a song and shapes and twists it to
convey all of the emotion that can be wrought from the lyric.
Her career began in 1962, at the age of 16, in Detroit, Michigan. Her first
single "My Man - He’s a Loving Man", was released on Atlantic Records. She
recorded for numerous labels, including Atco, Epic, and Motown, over the course
of the 1960s through the 1980s. She also worked alongside Charles "Honi" Coles,
and Cab Calloway in the Toni Award winning Broadway musical, "Bubbling Brown
Sugar" in the role of Sweet Georgia Brown.
The 2000's started what she calls her "Fifth Career". Her CD, A Woman Like
Me won the W.C. Handy Award in 2004 for "Comeback Blues Album of the Year".
She was also given a prestigous Pioneer Award by The Rhythm & Blues
She recorded 4 CDs for hipster indie label ANTI- Records over the course of 8
years, 2 of which received Grammy nominations.
She has received the Blues Music Award for Best Contemporary Female
Blues Singer, and performed a critically acclaimed version of "Love Reign O'er
Me" at The Kennedy Center Honors in a tribute to The Who. She then performed
"A Change Is Gonna Come" as a duet with Jon Bon Jovi for President elect
Barack Obama on HBO's telecast of the kick-off Inaugural Celebratory concert,
We Are One.
2012 marked her 50th year in show business and she also released her no-
holds-barred autobiography, A Woman Like Me, co-written with David Ritz. In
2016, her most recent CD, Worthy, garnered her a third Grammy nomination. She
also received the Blues Music Award for Best Soul Blues Female Artist.
Although still not a household name, fans, critics and artists have nothing but
high praise for her live show and her interpretive vocal skill. She is one of very few
of her contemporaries who were recording during the birth of soul music in the
1960s and is still creating vital recordings today.
These intimate shows allow her voice to be the complete center of attention.
They feature Bettye performing songs from throughout her 55 year career,
including songs that she used to perform in small Detroit clubs before her 21st
Century resurgence began. Many of these songs she does not perform with her
full band. Bettye has always said that just a voice and one instrument is all you
need to sell a song. Hearing Bettye in this intimate setting, stripped down to just
her voice and a piano, is a very intense and moving experience.