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
Betty Jo Haskins was born January 29,1946, in Muskegon, Michigan. The family moved to Detroit when she was six years old. Her parents sold corn liquor and her living room was oft-times visited by The Soul Stirrers, The Blind Boys of Mississippi, and many other traveling gospel groups of the day. Unlike many of her contemporaries, Bettye did not get her start in the church, but in that very same living room, where there was a jukebox, filled with the blues, country & western, and R&B records of the time. The "5" Royales, Dinah Washington, Bobby "Blue" Bland, Red Foley, ...these were her roots.
She has appeared on National Public Radio's World Cafe, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition, Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me, and performed a Tiny Desk Concert. She has appeared in a Mississippi Public Broadcasting series, Blues Divas, and is in a film of the same name, both produced by award winning film maker, Robert Mugge. She has also appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Late Night with David Letterman, The Conan O'Brien Show, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Lopez Tonight, Austin City Limits, The Prairie Home Companion, The Artist's Den, Good Morning America, The Today Show and The Tavis Smiley Show.
Late 2012 saw the release of her album, "Thankful N' Thoughtful", and her autobiography, variously described as 'engrosing', 'riviting', 'hair-raising' and only suitable for the over 18s, "A Woman Like Me", co-written with David Ritz, author of books on R&B legends Ray Charles, Smokey Robinson, Aretha Franklin and Marvin Gaye.
To quote Ms. LaVette: "And still I rise." Long may it continue.