David Bromberg has had an illustrious career in music, stretching back to his 13-year-old self in the late 50s when he first began studying guitar. Since then he’s played with Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Emmylou Harris, Mississippi John Hurt, Willie Nelson and many more.
After decades of touring and playing bluegrass, jazz, rock and roll and blues, Bromberg and his wife Nancy Josephson moved to Wilmington, Del. in 2002 to open a high-end violin sales and repair shop, where he also teaches kids music one-on-one free of charge. Since then the Grammy nominated musician has come out with two albums, the latest being Only Slightly Mad in 2013.
Bromberg played a sold-out show in Friday Harbor in 2011, and is returning to Friday Harbor Aug. 8 at San Juan Community Theatre.
Journal: You toured a lot in your early years during the 70s, and then you took a long break from the late 80s until the release of Try Me One More Time in 2007. What got you back into touring?
Bromberg: When I moved to Wilmington, I had lunch a couple times with the mayor. He told me that there used to be live music all along the street in which I live and he said he’d like to see that again. I figured the only thing that I could do to help make that happen would be to start some jam sessions. So that’s what I did, I started a couple of jam sessions which are still going, and good musicians started showing up, some of them traveling from some distance. And so I started playing again and I decided well, why not give it a try?
Journal: How has the music industry changed over your decades-long career?
Bromberg: The record companies are vanishing and there are very few left. Very few people buy CDs anymore, kids don’t buy them. CDs are on their way out, people buy their music. Royalties that musicians get from downloaded music are infinitesimal. There’s very little money to be made, and you can’t support yourself solely through recordings, unless your name is Beyonce, because her sales are so enormous. Taylor Swift does well too, but only the biggest of names can make a living from selling their recordings. That’s changed quite a bit.
Journal: What sort of words of encouragement might you give to a young musician who is daunted by the state of the music industry?
Bromberg: I read recently that you find your path by walking it. And I think that’s right. You can’t wait for somebody to hand you your path, you’ve got to walk it. And I recommend that if you have an ambition to go somewhere with music, I think it’s very important to be in either Los Angeles, New York or Nashville. It takes a certain amount of time to get known wherever you are.
Journal: You played a show here in Friday Harbor in 2011. Other than that have you spent much time in Washington?
Bromberg: I haven’t really spent a lot of time in Washington, usually it’s when I’m on tour. And because of that I rarely get to spend much time anywhere. I’ve spent a little bit more time in Portland because my son went to Reed College, so I would visit him there.
Journal: Will your show have focus on your earlier music, later albums or a mix in between?
I never plan my sets, so I have no idea what I’ll be playing and I won’t know until I’m on the stage. I go where the energy leads me, therefore every show is different. It works for me.
The David Bromberg Quintet will be playing Aug. 8 at San Juan Community Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $34 for adults, $17 for student reserved, and $5 for student RUSH at the door. Tickets available at SCJT box office or online at sjct.org. Bromberg’s appearance is made possible by underwriters including Larry Soll and Nancy Maron. The business partners for this event are San Juan Interiors and Friday Harbor Electric.