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Happy Hosting, Happy New Year - Rob Ellen
Born in Philadelphia, PA in 1945, David Bromberg took up the guitar at the age of 13 and quickly became enamoured of the folk and blues revival scene, taking lessons from no less than Reverend Gary Davis in Greenwich Village in the 60s. He eagerly soaked up blues (acoustic and electric), gospel, bluegrass, and country, and ended up working with some very well-known names – try Doug Sahm, Joan Baez, Al Kooper, Willie Nelson, Carly Simon, Kris Kristofferson, John Prine, Richie Havens, The Eagles, and er, The Beastie Boys and Chubby Checker, for starters. He eventually wound up with his own recording contract with Columbia following appearances at The Isle Of Wight Festival in 1970; he was there to back singer/ songwriter Rosalie Sorrels, but ended up playing sets on his own too. The deal yielded four albums between 1972 and 1975, and that material was cherry-picked for this CD, originally issued in 1998.
It would be easy to show the quality of this set by merely listing those involved – among them, three members of the Grateful Dead (including Jerry Garcia), The Beatles’ George Harrison, even Bob Dylan, can be heard here, whilst David himself draws on traditional and contemporary blues, country, folk of many hues, rock, and funk – all the way from an intimate, just guitar and harmonica accompanied radical reworking of the ballad ‘Dehlia’ and a nifty guitar medley of folk tunes entitled ‘Yankee’s Revenge’, via the big country arrangement of ‘The Joke’s On Me’, with Emmylou Harris on backing vocals, to an almost show number in ‘Nobody’s’ (which reminded me that David played on Dylan’s Self Portrait album). He flips genres with ease and conviction. ‘Mr Bojangles’ allows David to reminisce about the time he spent in Jerry Jeff Walker’s band, as well as being an effective rendition of the standard. David took himself away from the music scene in the mid-80s, an exile that lasted for 22 years – he turned his hand to making violins instead – but he is happily now back as a working musician. This nicely eclectic set shows just why his talents were, and are, so much in demand.
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