Sunday, August 7, 2011

Front row, bright glow

David Bromberg put on a cosmic show Friday night in the venerable back room of McCabe's Guitar Shop in Santa Monica.  Our LA tuning fork, Al Tays, is still reverberating from the experience.

By Al Tays

What was I thinking, ignoring David Bromberg for more than 30 years? That's how long it had been since I last bought a Bromberg album (1975's Midnight on the Water), or attended a Bromberg show. Mrs. Assistant Music Blogger and I caught him at the New England Folk and Blues Festival in the early '80s, where I recall him being much more folk than blues and ending his set by telling the audience he had to get up early the next day to get to his violin-making class.

But all those years I kept my Bromberg albums (I also had Demon in Disguise, Wanted Dead or Alive and David Bromberg) until I no longer owned a turntable to play them on. Bromberg's covers of "Statesboro Blues," "Kansas City" and "It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry," plus his own "Danger Man" went on my iPod.

Then I finally saw him again, Friday night in LA.

Playing two sold-out sets at the legendary McCabe's Guitar Shop in Santa Monica, Bromberg brought his typically eclectic mix of humor, folk, country and blues to an enthusiastic crowd of about 150. How enthusiastic? Bromberg didn't even have to sing the chorus to "I Like to Sleep Late in the Morning." We sang it for him. Most of us even knew the proper place to interject "Fingers do your stuff," and "See, this is bass and treble at the same time."

Like George Harrison, with whom Bromberg wrote "The Holdup," Bromberg, 65, can still make a guitar gently weep. But there's nothing gentle about his electric work on "I Will Not Be Your Fool" from 1976's "How Late'll Ya Play' Til?" I still have the burn marks from sitting in the front row. Welcome back, David.

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