New York, NY (Top40 Charts)
Multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter David
Bromberg isn't standing still. He is still pushing boundaries, still an iconoclast, still unapologetically unique, as he continues to explore his life's journey via a path that might be considered 'asymmetrical'. His musical expression is still inimitable and his scope of knowledge is encyclopedic. On the upcoming April 17th 'Big Road' (Red House Records,) Bromberg and his band were determined to give fans 'something of value' - in other words, a tangible, content-rich package of music, film, text and photos.
The result is a substantive music/video release, featuring 12 new tracks, five hi-def performance videos and a mini-documentary detailing the album's creation. 'Big Road' will be released in three formats: traditional CD, a gatefold vinyl album and a CD/DVD combo pack. In an age where recorded music has been devalued and relegated to a digital stream for smart phones, 'Big Road' returns the listener to the golden age of record-making, when enjoying an album was a tactile, visual and auditory experience.
Bromberg's band is road-tested and filled with ace musicians. Its current lineup is anchored by Mark Cosgrove (guitar, mandolin, vocals), Nate Grower (fiddle, mandolin, guitar, vocals), Josh Kanusky (drums, vocals) and newest member, Suavek Zaniesienko (bass, vocals). Joining David's core band for 'Big Road' are keyboardist extraordinaire Dan Walker on piano, organ and accordion, a stellar horn section of Bromberg regulars Birch Johnson (trombone), Jon-Erik Kellso (trumpet), Matt Koza (tenor sax) and Bob Stewart (tuba) and Larry Campbell (mandolin and pedal steel).
Highlights abound on 'Big Road', from the title track, to 'Loving of the Game', to Bromberg originals 'George, Merle & Conway' and 'Diamond Lil', to 'Standing in the Need of Prayer' and many more. Throughout, Bromberg emphasizes musical inclusion, as many genres are represented: country, folk, blues, bluegrass, gospel and more. Read his expansive track-by-track song notes, below.
The video performances in the 'Big Road' package capture lightning in a bottle and showcase Bromberg in remarkable form. His vocals are unexpected and a thrill to behold, as is his camaraderie with his band. Bromberg's relentless touring schedule belies his years, and an itinerary of upcoming U.S. dates is here: https://davidbromberg.net/upcoming-tour-dates/
Get a taste of the band's distinctive musical signature via this recent PASTE Live performance of the title track:
What is the story of David
Bromberg in 2020? His original persona - the outrageous guitar slinger who could blow anyone off the stage - has morphed into masterful bandleader. Today we get to focus on the totality of the man. After fifty years, David
has evolved but is still searching, still creating, still vital, and ever humble.
The thrust of the story is David's peripatetic journey (some have said it evokes Joseph Campbell's circular 'hero's journey'):
• He starts out at twenty, leaving Columbia University for the streets of Greenwich Village,
playing in coffeehouses, learning from Rev Gary Davis, Doc Watson and Mississippi
John Hurt, jamming with musicians and building a reputation.
• By thirty he is on the top of the mountain - he's recorded with Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, John Prine
and Ringo Starr, written with George
Harrison, found Linda
Ronstadt her breakthrough hit song "Long, Long Time", recorded four albums of his own for Columbia and played to adoring crowds.
• At the height of this success, he becomes disillusioned with life as a touring musician and quits, moving to Chicago
to become an apprentice violin builder. He immerses himself in the world of lutherie and learns to identify violins - their makers, materials, provenance and commercial value, eventually opening a retail violin shop.
• After decades away from life as a recording and touring musician he returns, records the Grammy-nominated album Try Me One More Time, assembles a band and continues to carve out his own turf and identity which leads to Big Road.
Song notes, by David
Mark McKenna, our manager, and Mike Russo, our tour manager, told me that they thought that we should record what the quintet (sometimes sextet) sounds like these days because they like what we're doing, and so do we. I asked Dan Walker to record with us because he really becomes part of the band whenever we get to play together. It kills me that we can't have him every night, but it's always great when he's part of the band. I guess the point is, he doesn't "sit in", he's part of the band when we can get him. Right now he's on tour with Heart. I think they must know how lucky they are to have him.
Big Road is a tune by Tommy Johnson who also did "Canned Heat." I recorded it solo on a CD called "Try Me One More Time", but I think it's really powerful with the whole band. Larry Campbell wrote the horn arrangement. Bob Stewart plays the tuba on it, and I really love what it feels like to play and sing with the horns section with the tuba. Mark Cosgrove plays the first guitar solo. Both his solo and my own are our own interpretations of Tommy Johnson's solo on the original recording. Right after Mark's solo, Nate plays a beaut. I sing another verse, and then do my guitar solo.
Lovin' of the Game is by Pat and Victoria
Garvey who were on the coffee house circuit a bit before I was. It makes a point that's hard to argue. Larry's pedal steel really makes the track cook. Mark & Suavek sing the harmonies. Dan plays an accordion solo, and Nate does a great fiddle solo. Mark plays the mandolin solo. His style is great and unique.
Just Because You Didn't Answer is by another of my favorite song writers. I knew him as Thom Bishop in Chicago, but he now goes by Thomas
Bishop Burke. He was teaching creative writing at the Naropa Institute
in Boulder. One of the reasons I love this song is that I've never heard another song that says what this one does. Mark does a great entrance into an equally great solo. Nate shines, and I split some measures with Dan. People think I'm trying to be funny when I say that rests are the best notes I play, but the rest is an important musical note, and I play a few in my solo part. Dan plays with taste and genius.
George, Merle & Conway is a song I wrote at the Egg in Albany after Mark Cosgrove and I were discussing how affecting the songs of the three singers are. Some people think country songs like the ones George, Merle & Conway wrote and sang, are over the top. Some of them are, but really, life itself is often over the top, and why write about something mundane? Mark plays the electric guitar on this, and does the intro & the first solo in beautiful Nashville fashion. The other solos and Nate on fiddle, me on acoustic guitar and Larry all over the steel.
I learned Mary Jane when I went to Columbia University on New York City in the early 60s. The lyrics are about pot, although they're coded, as they had to be at that time. The guitar part is a neat arrangement with independent bass and treble in a style that was popular in N.Y. at the time. Unfortunately, I've forgotten who wrote it or who I learned it from. I added a couple of licks here and there, but the guitar part shows that the author was a student of Reverend Gary Davis by one simple lick towards the top of the tune. If you know who wrote it, please let me know.
Standing in the Need of Prayer is an old church tune. It was Mark Cosgrove's idea to do it. I arranged it for the five of us to sing, and these days we seldom do a concert without it. People seem to love it as much as we do. At concerts we sing it around one mic.
The Hills of Isle Au Haut was written by Gordon
Bok. I used to hear him sing it at folk festivals decades ago, and never forgot him or the song. There's a site on the internet where he says that the places named are in Europe, and Isle Au Haut is fictional. It isn't. I think the way that I do the song was probably, (like much of what I do), influenced by Jody Stecher. I play the intro on my Fender. Mark & Suavek do the harmonies. Mark plays the fine cross picking acoustic guitar solo. Dan solos on accordion, and Nate solos on fiddle.
Maiden's Prayer, Blackberry Blossom, Katy Hill: Maiden's Prayer is a country instrumental we've all known forever. I think it's gorgeous. I play the first chorus, and then the last one because I like to blue it up. Blackberry Blossom is not the tune commonly known by that title. Both Nate and I first heard it by Bruce Molsky, who is, to me, a very important fiddler. I think Nate plays the hell out of it. The earliest version that we're aware of was by Ed Haley. Katy Hill is an old fiddle tune that I've always enjoyed playing. We haven't recorded any triple mandolin tunes in a while.
Diamond Lil is another of my tunes. I recorded it years ago, but this quintet puts its own stamp on it. I like the way we do it these days and thought we should record it. The instrumental parts are all improvised, and some of us worried that we wouldn't do those parts as well when we recorded as when we play live. I think we solved that by recording it on film at the same time as we recorded the audio. It was a performance, and we're all happy with it. I'm fiercely proud of the ensemble improvisation. I think it's a bit of something not often seen that we love doing. The first solo is a beaut on the piano by Dan. Mark & I do an improvised duet after the next verse, and after another verse, Nate and Suavek improvise another duet. Mark really does some very important, beautiful and subtle playing throughout.
Who Will the Next Fool Be? is a song by the great Charlie Rich. He had a hit on it, but not as big a hit as it should have been. Bobby
Blue Bland had the biggest hit with it, and it affected me, so I had to sing it. This is the Big Band with the horn section we love to play with. Birch Johnson, our trombone player, wrote the horn arrangement. I love doing this tune. Dan does a lovely intro before the band comes in. The solos are Mark, Nate and me in that order.
Take this Hammer is a tune Leadbelly (Huddie Ledbetter) used to sing. It's a prison song, but we do it bluegrass style. Larry plays a great mandolin solo on it, and Mark Cosgrove tears it up on guitar. Nate does Nate on it, and we all always take note of what he plays. I do a chorus towards the end.
I learned Roll On John from the singing of John Herald. I can't help but think of him when we play it. I miss him, as do all who knew him. We like to do this as an encore in front of the mikes so that there's nothing in between us and the listeners. Mark plays the first solo on the mandolin. Dan's solo might be my favorite solo on the CD. Nate's tears at my heart. I play some more rests in mine.
With his 1971 self-titled Columbia Records release, multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter David
Bromberg emerged as the wunderkind of American roots music. The disc's compelling blend of traditional and original material, virtuosic musicianship and iconic cover art trumpeted the arrival of a new artist possessed of audacious and uncompromising vision. Over the course of four albums for Columbia and five for Fantasy Records, and through associations with artists like Bob Dylan, Jerry Jeff Walker, John Hartford, George
Harrison, the Grateful Dead, Emmylou Harris
and Bonnie Raitt, Bromberg's reputation, repertoire and following grew exponentially. However, the incessant demands of touring finally brought his recordings and shows to an end in the early 1980s.
The twenty-two year drought ended in 2006 with the release of the Grammy-nominated solo effort Try Me One More Time. Gradually tour dates were added and band members assembled as David, in 2011, followed up Try Me with Use Me, a typically unorthodox Brombergian effort, partnering him with some of the most celebrated names in music—Linda Ronstadt, Vince Gill, Los Lobos, Dr. John, Keb' Mo, John Hiatt, Levon Helm and others—whom David
asked to either write or choose songs and then produce him performing them.
Two more albums emerged from 2013 to 2017, Only Slightly Mad and The Blues the Whole Blues and Nothing But the Blues, both produced by three-time Grammy winner Larry Campbell. Recorded at Levon Helm's Barn, Only Slightly Mad brought the band back to David's eclectic 'kitchen sink' musical philosophy, while with The Whole Blues, David
fiddler Johnny Gimbel's theory that: "There are only two songs—'The Star-Spangled Banner' and the blues." The band skipped over the 'Banner' and headed straight for the blues, winning the 2017 Downbeat Critic's Poll for Best Blues Album.
Eventually David's band settled into its current lineup of Mark Cosgrove (guitar, mandolin, vocals), Nate Grower (fiddle, mandolin, guitar, vocals), Josh Kanusky (drums, vocals) and newest member, Suavek Zaniesienko (bass, vocals). This nucleus has performed hundreds of shows together, traversing thousands of miles across the U.S., Canada, Europe, Japan and Australia. With the band having attained a high level of musical telepathy, they entered the studio in mid-2019 for a slightly different approach to record-making.
The new album, Big Road, will give Bromberg fans the most intimate portrait to date of David
and his band, musically and visually. Featuring twelve new tracks, five hi-def performance videos and a mini-documentary detailing the album's creation, it will be released through Red House Records in three formats: traditional CD, a gatefold vinyl album and a CD/DVD combo pack. In an age where recorded music has been devalued and relegated to a digital stream for smart phones, Big Road returns the listener to the golden age of record-making, when enjoying an album was a tactile, visual and auditory experience. Joining David's core band are keyboardist extraordinaire Dan Walker on piano, organ and accordion, a stellar horn section of Bromberg regulars Birch Johnson (trombone), Jon-Erik Kellso (trumpet), Matt Koza (tenor sax) and Bob Stewart (tuba) and Larry Campbell on mandolin and pedal steel.
We think you'll agree that traveling the David
Bromberg Band's Big Road is a trip work taking.