Over the years, one thing I’ve learned after seeing David Bromberg perform live many times, is not to expect to hear any of my favorite songs. Popularity has never been a prerequisite for a song to make it on David’s set list. Sorry, did I say set list? That’s something you will also never see at a Bromberg show either.
It’s been a few years since David last played Music City (Third & Lindsley in 2010), but the guy taking the Winery stage this night hasn’t changed much. As usual, he skipped over his early “hits” (“Sharon,” “The Holdup” and “Dehlia”) in a loosely-structured set made on the fly. There were times when I swear the band didn’t know what was coming until Bromberg started playing it. But, none of this mattered.
Bromberg may be the most musicianship-centered performer I’ve have ever see. Yes, he is a fantastic singer in his own right with a unique vocal style that often ends lines with a cracking vibrato. He’s also as funny as hell and a most joyous host. But, this man lives for the playing—both his own and that of the amazing players he always finds to work with.
Following the opening number, he turned and after counting six members on stage, joked that he thought tonight was billed as a quintet. After hollering “You’re fired!” at someone, he introduced Nashvillian Johnny Duke, once of Little Big Town, as an addition to the five tonight as an extra guitarist. A few songs later, he called another local friend out of the seats, Fred Carpenter, to join the band to play sax for the rest of the show. Bromberg just loves to play with great players, and the more the merrier!
Bromberg later asked if “Mary” was here to join in as well. When his calls went unanswered, he said he thought she had another show to play first and she might come later. She never did and odds are that he was referring to Mary Gauthier with whom he did a radio show earlier in the day.
Such a delightful performer, Bromberg’s joyful and witty persona kept me smiling throughout the entire evening. A brief solo spot also highlighted what a truly brilliant guitarist he is in his own right. I’ve never seen anybody play two different things on an acoustic guitar at the same time as good as David. Watch this video and see how he works his fingers on the bottom strings.
Another highlight was when he and the band stepped in front of their mics to sing a sweet version of Carole King’s “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow.”
David and the band pushed it right up until the evening curfew and sadly left without an encore. He did manage to work in one of his most-loved songs, his version of Ian Tyson’s “Summer Wages,” a number that he usually plays every show. Now here’s some wisdom from a great song that Mr. Bromberg has rightfully made his own:
Never hit seventeen when you play against the dealer
For you know those odds won’t ride with you
And never leave your woman alone with friends around to steal her
Years are gambled and lost like summer wages
- Walkin’ Blues (Son House cover)
- The First Time My Woman Left Me, This Month
- Why Are People Like That? (Bobby Charles cover)
- Nobody Knows the Way I Feel This Morning (Dinah Washington cover)
- She’s in My Arms Asleep
- Dark Hollow (Jimmie Skinner cover)
- Tennessee Blues (Bobby Charles cover)
- Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow (Carole King)
- Strongest Man Alive
- (Mark Cosgrove instrumental)
- Give Me George, Merle and Conway
- It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry (Bob Dylan cover)
- Summer Wages
- Driving Wheel (David Wiffen cover)
David Bromberg—lead vocals, electric and acoustic guitars
Mark Cosgrove— acoustic guitar, electric guitar and mandolin
Suavek Zaniesienko— bass
Josh Kanusky— drums
Nate Grower— fiddle
Johnny Duke— electric guitar
Fred Carpenter— violin