Roots music fans around the world will rejoice in the release of Try Me One More Time, the first new CD in almost two decades by guitarist/vocalist David Bromberg, a master practitioner of folk, blues, bluegrass and other musical genres. This new recording is undiluted David: one man, one acoustic guitar, and a repertoire of mostly traditional material performed with the intimate, assured touch of a musician who has nothing to prove.
Originally a “must-have” session man for everyone from Bob Dylan to Jay & the Americans and subsequently a hard-touring bandleader and recording artist with an enthusiastic following, Bromberg gradually phased himself out of the continual record-tour-record cycle starting in 1980. “I got burned out, but I didn’t know it was burn-out,” he reflects. “I thought I wasn’t a musician anymore. I wasn’t writing or practicing. And I didn’t want to be one of those musicians who ends up ‘phoning it in.’ Music was too important to me to treat it that way.”
So he switched his focus from performing to studying, moving to Chicago in 1980 to attend and graduate from the Kenneth Warren School of Violin Making. Based in the Windy City until 2002, when he relocated to Wilmington, Del., to open a violin store, Bromberg has continued to tour periodically, but has mostly stayed away from recording studios, with 1990’s Sideman Serenade his last album until now.
On Try Me One More Time, Bromberg harkens back to the acoustic folk and blues music of his early days on the mid-’60s Greenwich Village folk scene, a period when he guided the blind gospel-blues singer Reverend Gary Davis to concerts and churches in exchange for guitar lessons. Bromberg performs two of “the Rev’s” compositions on his new CD – “I Belong to the Band” and “Trying to Get Home” – as well as songs written by Robert Johnson (“Kind Hearted Woman”), Elizabeth Cotten (“Shake Sugaree”), Tommy Johnson (“Big Road”), Blind Willie McTell (“Love Changing Blues”), sometime Bromberg employer Bob Dylan (“It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry”), and songs from the traditional realm, including two exquisitely rendered instrumentals (“Buck Dancer’s Choice,” “Hey Bub”). The title track is Bromberg’s first recording of a song he wrote more than 30 years ago.
In liner notes as conversational as his distinctive, low-key vocals, Bromberg maintains that Try Me One More Time is the first record he’s made where he “wasn’t trying to impress anybody . . . I’m just doing the tunes.” Nonetheless, the outcome can’t fail to delight listeners who appreciate an understated virtuoso playing and singing the music he loves.
ReviewsThe all acoustic contents of Try Me One More Time bespeaks a modern DIY effort and the old make what you need ethos. Bromberg has always been a fine picker, and he shines on the two spirited instrumentals, the traditional tunes Buck Dancer's Choice and Hey Bub. The best cuts are simply the best songs, and they are not all that different from the material he recorded when first starting out. Bromberg superbly covers Dylan's It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry, Rev. Davis' Trying to Get Home and Cotten's Shake Sugaree. These tracks have similar roots in American folk culture and share a sweet and sad perspective on life. “ Steve Horowitz