Friday, August 24, 2012

David Bromberg, Guitars, Fiddles, and Storytelling.

David Bromberg

David Bromberg is the kind of guy that whether you've heard of him or not, it doesn't matter, the chances are extremely high that you've at some point or another heard him. Though his very name is a big name for those who are into folk music, bluegrass, blues, or virtually any musical form employing an acoustic guitar - it's the sheer volume of recordings that David has appeared on that guarantee that one has very likely heard his playing at some point in time.
You see, Bromberg's chameleon ability, his ability to represent most any style of music not just passably, but WELL has allowed him to play with virtually anyone, and on a great many studio albums as a sessions guitarist. He's also performed live with many a big name musician from the 60's and 70's.

A Younger David Bromberg.

Mr. Bogangles.

The song Mr. Bogangles is especially well known. The song was written by Jerry Jeff Walker, and featured David Bromberg on acoustic flatpicked guitar in it's original recording. The song about a drunkard from my own home town, Kaufman, Texas; and his chance meeting in a jail cell in New Orleans with the author of the tune - Jerry Jeff Walker, is a favorite of a great many persons.
Count David Bromberg in as one of the song's biggest fans, he does a splendid version of it himself.

Mr. Bojangles, By David Bromberg.

David Bromberg and The American Violin

Now, if you didn't listen to Bromberg's Mr. Bojangles, then you just completely missed out on virtually everything that this article is about. It's easy for those who did listen to that, and I apologize that it's not much of a video, but rather, a sound track - to be amazed at how engaging a storyteller the man is. He might not be the world's greatest vocalist, but damn if he might not just be one of the world's finest story teller's who sets his stories to music!
Also, the guitar solo at the very end of the thing - was so lyrical as to sound like someone singing, and he probably did that off the cuff, improvised over the chords. Though it wasn't technically is about music!
Now, if you've surmised that David Bromberg is an American of Jewish descent who grew up in or around New York City - gosh, aren't you bright? Well, that much might have been fairly obvious, but what is totally un assumable is that Bromberg the guitarist, is probably the world's leading authority on American Made Violins. Not only does he have one of the most valued collections, but he's also studied their construction, and their history to the extent of being called upon the world over for opinions, advice, or details concerning violins made in the USA.
Yes of course David plays the fiddle or violin, he only owns the world's single largest collection of American Made Violins or "fiddles." No, I've never heard him play the fiddle, but he's officially a fiddle dealer, as well as a guitarist, performer, and storyteller.
The man is a modern BARD that multi tasks a bit.

Bromberg In Texas

David Bromberg and His Martin M 42 Acoustic Guitar.

David Bromberg.

So anyways, anyone can go meet David Bromberg - but I suggest that you be a customer or serious shopper when going inside the violin shop of the world's foremost authority on American made violins. But he might be such a nice guy that he doesn't mind people walking in just to say that they've met him.
Given the opportunity - I would do exactly that, go inside the man's violin shop just to maybe shake his hand, and say,
"Sir, I've always appreciated your music."
One of the things that Bromberg has always considered a point of pride, and this is unique, is that he's said to have never allowed himself to be topped by a heckler. Now, I don't know what kind of person pays to see a show just to heckle someone - but Bromberg has probably played a lot of shows in his life, and probably a lot of them were either free, or shows in which he or whoever he played with were not the headline act. Truly, the man has a presence.
Bromberg, of course, is primarily a guitarist, and primarily plays the Martin acoustic guitar that was designed for him, The Martin M 42 - and no the "M" doesn't stand for Martin, but rather the size and shape of the instrument. The first video here features Bromberg doing some beautiful and lyrical traditional bluegrass type picking, and the second video features the pure hilarity showmanship of Bromberg and some blues guitar playing. He also fingerpicks very well, and as I close out what I hope to have been a nice enough introduction to a musician that you maybe hadn't heard of, it should behoove me to include some Bromberg fingerstyle guitar playing.

David Bromberg on African American Churches and Playing Fingerstyle Blues.


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