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home : opinions : commentary July 24, 2016

3/8/2014 12:33:00 PM
Commentary: It's David Bromberg week in the Verde Valley
David Bromberg (Courtesy photo)
David Bromberg (Courtesy photo)
Film Festival hosts premiere of David Bromberg: Unsung Treasure
The Sedona International Film Festival welcomes renowned musician David Bromberg to Sedona March 12 at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre.

"David Bromberg: Unsung Treasure" will be shown at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre on Wednesday, March 12 at 4 and 7 p.m. Bromberg will participate in a Q&A discussion after the 4 p.m. show and will introduce the 7 p.m. screening.

Tickets are $12, or $9 for Film Festival members. For tickets and more information, please call 928-282-1177.

Both the theatre and film festival office are located at 2030 W. Hwy. 89A, in West Sedona. For more information, visit: www.SedonaFilmFestival.org.

Thursday, March 13, Bromberg will perform at Cottonwood's Old Town Center for the Arts. The show is sold out.

Dan Engler

Nearly 40 years ago while I was attending college in Flagstaff, I always kept my Tuesday schedule open between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

That's because Tuesdays - back then and still today - is the day that the music industry unveils new releases.

Most every Tuesday, I was waiting for the doors to open at Circles Records on South Milton Road in Flagstaff so I could be the first to peruse, and purchase, the week's best new records.

On one of those Tuesdays, I left the record store with a new double-vinyl called "How Late'll Ya Play "Till?" by the David Bromberg Band. It was my first Bromberg record, but I knew who he was because he played guitar on Bob Dylan's classic 1970 record "New Morning."

Plus, in the circles I ran in, it seemed that every time you turned around, someone was singing Bromberg's praises.

So, I rushed home to my little single-wide trailer at Hidden Hollow Mobile Park on old Route 66 between Flagstaff and Williams and gave this record its first listen.

It did not take long to realize that this was something more than just a collection of songs. It was more like an anthology of the American music form. The record had it all: Sweet Home Chicago blues, gut-bucket Delta blues, talking blues, "Bullfrog Blues," rock "n' roll, country, bluegrass, ballads, instrumentals and Yippee-Ti-Yi-Yo-git-along-little-doggie cowboy songs. There was even a disco tune with pulsating horns on this record. Hey, it was the 1970s; we can forgive David for that one.

Within a few weeks, I made several more visits to Circle Records and bought every record in the Bromberg arsenal. Those records featured traditional Irish music, old mining songs, jazz and even Latin sambas ... You name it, Bromberg could, and would, do it.

About the same time, I learned that he was coming to Flagstaff to do a show at a club called Leroy's Sunken Ship, and two nights later he would perform at Celebrity Theatre. I attended both shows. As was the case on his records, there just seemed to be no limit to David Bromberg's boundaries as a musician, and as an entertainer. He was equal parts stand-up comic and fire-and-brimstone holy-roller preacher all rolled into one, and then in an instant be able to bring a tear to your eye with the most tender story-telling song you've ever heard. He used to do this song about Rip Van Winkle waking up after 20 years of sleep to a world he no longer knew ... some of the most captivating story-telling I've ever heard.

Bromberg's whirlwind pace of performing and recording continued until the mid-1980s, when he simply vanished from the music business. At the time, you could not help but worry that he was a casualty of the music lifestyle. In Bromberg's case, though, his exile was by choice. He enrolled in a Chicago violin-making school and began a new career as a maker, seller and collector of fine violins in Delaware. As one writer put it, Bromberg willingly got off the elevator before it reached the top floor.

More than two decades went by before Bromberg would record and perform again. His first record in 2007, "Try Me One More Time," was nominated for a Grammy. He's made two more records since then and is performing again, simply not at the breakneck speed he did in the "70s and "80s.

All of which brings us to the here and the now.

William Eaton, the co-director of the Old Town Center for the Arts, has dreamed of bringing Bromberg to his performance hall for years. He would admit it was one of those wish-list items that weighed more heavily on the dream vs. reality side of the equation.

But when a local Bromberg aficionado persuaded Sedona Film Festival Director Patrick Schweiss to bring the new documentary film David Bromberg: Unsung Treasure to the Mary D. Fischer Theatre, Eaton seized upon the opportunity. Realizing that Bromberg had scheduled a tour date in Tucson in mid-March, he coordinated schedules with Schweiss so the Bromberg movie would show March 12 and Eaton would attempt to book a show with the artist at Old Town Center for the Arts the next night.

It turned out the stars were in perfect alignment. Bromberg agreed to the March 13 date with Eaton, and also to come to Sedona to do an audience Q&A after the first showing of David Bromberg: Unsung Treasure March 12.

Further, patience and persistence paid off for Eaton. When OTCA's Elena Bullard made tickets for the Bromberg show available online in January and followed up with an e-blast, the show sold out within a few days. It was a first for OTCA. They never had to print tickets. None were made available to retail providers. The show sold out exclusively online.

The hope now, of course, is that this show creates a buzz in the music industry ... David Bromberg played at that quaint little theater in Cottonwood, Arizona. So did John McEuen ... twice, in fact, as did Maria Muldaur. So did Gary Morris, and Melanie. There must be something special about the Old Town Center for the Arts.

Are you paying attention, Lucinda Williams?

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Article comment by: Michael Clonts

I went to Desert Dancer to buy tickets last month for the Bromberg concert. I was told that the concert sold out in one week - on line! Bummer! Somehow that doesn't seem fair, but I guess that's just life. Maybe I'll hang out @ the Old Town Center on Thurs night & see if I can find some scalpers.

Posted: Sunday, March 9, 2014
Article comment by: jeffry nimtz

Have been a fan of Mr. Bromberg for 39+ years his music is the ONLY kind I listen to with all the tunes Jazz,bluegrass,blues..he does it all so he has been the most perfect performer i'd ever heard in my life

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