David Bromberg’s Birthday Bash

The Keswick Theatre / Glenside, PA

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Photos by Mark J. Smith 

What a great night of music! Joining the David Bromberg Big Band to celebrate Bromberg’s birthday and open the show was the absolutely excellent duet of Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams. Campbell and Williams did a great version of “If I Had My Way,” as well as a few of their own songs. Tom Rush then came to the stage for his turn at entertaining us. He did a great job as usual, mixing in stories that had the house cracking up. His fantastic version of “Drift Away” was followed by a discussion of a Judy Collins song about a boy growing up. He then changed all the words to make fun of Bromberg– it was his birthday, after all.

Bromberg joined Rush on stage to sing a couple of traditional numbers before being joined by his band, and he quite quickly hit back, referring to Rush’s old age. Bromberg’s patter between songs on stage is a good as anyone gets. Many a laugh was had, often at Tom Rush’s expense. All in good fun.

The night was subtitled The Blues, The Whole Blues, and Nothing but the Blues, as Bromberg’s new album of that name was about to be released. Well, what do you know, he played a lot more than the blues. Yes, he played lot of the new songs– well, some were traditional blues songs and not new at all– but also a number of songs from an earlier album, Only Slightly Mad. Hell, and for good reason: Only Slightly Mad, as well as The Blues, The Whole Blues, and Nothing but the Blues, was produced by Larry Campbell, who was there to join him on stage. They played a couple of songs from the earlier album, including what David referred to as an English drinking song he wrote, The Strongest Man Alive.” The crowning point of the night for me was perhaps a song from the new album performed as a duet with Larry Campbell. Bromberg introduced it as a song he likes to play solo, but added that he loves to hear Campbell play it, so “Delia” is a duet on the album and that night a duet on stage. And for me, it was a hit. Well done!

If you ever get a chance to see and hear David Bromberg live– which could be soon, since after all he, is touring to support the new album– I suggest you take it. He usually surprises, and you can always count on a great night of music.

Mark J. Smith

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