Visit MaineToday's profile on Pinterest.

About The Author

mainetoday

Ray Routhier

Portland Press Herald staff writer Ray Routhier will try anything. Once. During 20 years at the Press Herald he’s been equally attracted to stories that are unusually quirky and seemingly mundane. He’s taken rides on garbage trucks, sought out the mother of two rock stars, dug clams, raked blueberries, and spent time with the family of bedridden man who finds strength in music. Nothing too dangerous mind you, just adventurous enough to find the stories of real Mainers doing real cool things.

Send an email | Read more from Ray







Posted: October 30, 2017

Blues, jazz and bluegrass musician David Bromberg brings his quintet to Portland

Written by: Ray Routhier
David Bromberg, a master of several kinds of American music from blues to bluegrass, will perform Friday with his quintet at Portland House of Music. Michael Stentz photo

David Bromberg, a master of several kinds of American music from blues to bluegrass, will perform Friday with his quintet at Portland House of Music. Photo by Michael Stentz

David Bromberg grew up in the 1950s listening to early rock exploding from his AM radio.

He heard the manic riffs of Chuck Berry, the smooth strumming of the Everly Brothers, the blues-powered thumping of Bo Diddley and thought to himself: Wow, you can really do a lot of different things with a guitar.

“I don’t think I ever heard anything on the radio in those days that I didn’t want to try on my guitar,” said Bromberg, 72. “The instrument was the thing for me.”

And it’s Bromberg’s mastery of instruments in a variety of styles, from blues and bluegrass to jazz and folk, that caused critics to call him the godfather of Americana. He’ll bring his David Bromberg Quintet to the Portland House of Music on Temple Street Friday.

David Bromberg, a master of several kinds of American music from blues to bluegrass, will perform Friday with his quintet at the Portland House of Music. Photo by Doris Joosten

Bromberg has been called “the godfather of Americana.” Photo by Doris Joosten

He says he and his band will play songs from his most recent album, 2016’s “The Blues, the Whole Blues and Nothing but the Blues.” The album is a mix of old blues tunes, though not well-known ones, and originals.

“I don’t like to do songs that people know very well. I don’t find it as interesting, for me or for them,” said Bromberg.

Besides blues, Bromberg will likely play a range of music from his long career, including bluegrass and folk tunes. But he’s not quite sure what the songs will be.

“We never plan our sets,” Bromberg said.

Bromberg grew up near New York City and went to Columbia University. While there, he studied with blues and gospel singer Rev. Gary Davis, who played banjo, guitar and harmonica. Bromberg eventually became proficient on fiddle, electric guitar, mandolin and dobro.

Because of his mastery of so many musical styles, he’s toured and played with a wide variety of artists, including Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, George Harrison and Jerry Garcia. His 2011 album “Use Me” included guest appearances by Levon Helm, John Hiatt, Dr. John, Keb’ Mo’, Los Lobos, Widespread Panic, Linda Ronstadt and Vince Gill.

Bromberg owns a violin shop in Wilmington, Delaware. As a fiddle player, he says he has long been fascinated by the origins of hand-made violins. Often a violin gets sold or passed down, and the new owner doesn’t know where it came from. Bromberg’s shop specializes in documenting the histories of old violins.

“If you have a guitar that says Fender or Martin, you know what factory it came from,” said Bromberg. “But it’s different with violins, they are just mysterious little animals.”


WHAT: David Bromberg
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday
WHERE: Portland House of Music, 25 Temple St.
HOW MUCH: $35 to $55
INFO: portlandhouseofmusic.com

Up Next: