Bluegrass, ragtime and country music to be performed by David Bromberg Quintet

| 09 Apr 2014 | 11:12

    David Bromberg Quintet will perform at the Newton Theatre on Friday, May 9.

    “As a kid I listened to rock ’n’ roll and whatever else was on the radio,” says Bromberg. “I discovered Pete Seeger and The Weavers and, through them, Reverend Gary Davis”.

    Other early influences were Muddy Waters and the Chicago blues, Flatt and Scruggs, Bill Monroe and Doc Watson.

    The call of the Greenwich Village folk scene in the mid-’60s drew Bromberg to the downtown clubs and coffeehouses, where he could watch and learn from the best performers.

    Bromberg’s sensitive and versatile approach to guitar-playing earned him jobs playing the Village “basket houses” for tips, the occasional paying gig, and as a backing musician for Tom Paxton, Jerry Jeff Walker and Rosalie Sorrels, among others. He became a first-call, “hired gun” guitarist for recording sessions, ultimately playing on hundreds of records by artists including Bob Dylan, The Eagles, Ringo Starr, Willie Nelson, and Carly Simon.

    An unexpected and wildly successful solo spot at the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival in Great Britain led to a solo deal with Columbia Records, for whom Bromberg recorded four albums. His eponymous 1971 debut included the mock-anguished "Suffer to Sing the Blues," a Bromberg original that became an FM radio staple, and also "The Holdup," a songwriting collaboration with former Beatle George Harrison, whom he met at his manager’s Thanksgiving dinner festivities. Harrison also played slide guitar on the track. David also wound up with four of the Grateful Dead members, including Jerry Garcia, playing on his next two albums.

    Bromberg’s range of material, based in the folk and blues idioms, continually expanded with each new album to encompass bluegrass, ragtime, country and ethnic music, and his touring band grew expeditiously. By the mid-’70s, the David Bromberg Big Band included horn-players, a violinist, and several multi-instrumentalists, including himself.

    Despite jubilant, loose-limbed concerts and a string of acclaimed albums, Bromberg found himself exhausted by the logistics of the music business.

    “I decided to change the direction of my life,” he explains.

    So David dissolved his band in 1980, and he and his artist/musician wife, Nancy Josephson, moved from Northern California to Chicago, where David attended the Kenneth Warren School of Violin Making. Though he still toured periodically, the recordings slowed to a trickle and then stopped.

    After “too many Chicago winters,” in 2002 David and Nancy were lured to Wilmington, Del., where they became part of the city’s artist-in-residence program and where Bromberg could establish David Bromberg Fine Violins, a retail store and repair shop for high quality instruments. Frequent participation in the city’s weekly jam sessions helped rekindle Bromberg’s desire to make music again, as did the encouragement of fellow musicians like Chris Hillman (The Byrds, Desert Rose Band, Flying Burrito Brothers) and bluegrass wizard Herb Pedersen. The jams also led to the formation of Angel Band, fronted by Nancy and two other female vocalists, with David serving as an accompanist.

    Now Bromberg continues his musical revitalization, playing shows on his own, backed by (and supporting) Angel Band, his own David Bromberg Quintet, and reunions of the David Bromberg Big Band, the configuration depending on the circumstance.

    Tickets for David Bromberg Quintet $49 for premium seating, $39 for orchestra and $29 for balcony. Purchase tickets by visiting or contact the box office at 973-383-3700.

    The historic Newton Theatre is located at 234 Spring Street in Newton, N.J.