David Bromberg and the Peter Rowan and Tony Rice Quartet. At
the Lobero Theatre, Saturday, January 13.

Reviewed by Paul Chiment

As the arctic wind put a serious chill over Santa Barbara
Saturday night, David Bromberg warmed his audience with an
infectious belly laugh and his fiery delivery of bluegrass and
blues. Never one to be neatly categorized, Bromberg blended many
styles as he let his fingers fly up and down his guitar’s
fretboard, bending notes along the way.

Bromberg is one of those rare performers whose blend of talent,
wit, and sincere appreciation for his audience earn him respect the
instant he steps onto the stage. Wearing a devious smile and
chatting with the audience (and himself) during his songs, Bromberg
didn’t just sing the blues — he preached them, showing all the
passion and authority of a Southern Baptist minister spreading the

Bromberg2.jpgBut Bromberg’s sermons aren’t about
angels or virgins; his are packed with stories of broken hearts,
cheating women, Jack Daniels, and rusty old Buicks that stopped
running a long time ago. Belting out lyrics and skillfully blending
strums with masterful fingerpicking, Bromberg controlled,
entertained, and enlightened his congregation well into the

Throughout the evening, Bromberg played more than just blues. As
a sideman for Bob Dylan, Chubby Checker, Ringo Starr, and Jerry
Jeff Walker, Bromberg can play it all. This was never more apparent
than when the Peter Rowan and Tony Rice Quartet joined him onstage,
combining the graceful balance of speed, flow, and what can only be
described as “that bluegrass twang” of Tony Rice’s guitar with
Peter Rowan’s impressive vocal range. Sharon Gilchrist on mandolin
and Bryn Davies on upright bass rounded out the quartet, and as
Bromberg shared and directed solos, this bluegrass jam session
quickly got the audience’s feet thumping and allowed the musicians
to showcase their unique styles. Particularly impressive was
Davies’s command of the upright bass. Her quirky combination of old
school walking up and down the neck with a more modern slap
approach, injected an element of jazz into the bluegrass sound and
made for memorable solos. But it was Bromberg’s blues, and his
lightning speed and accuracy, that held the audience rapt. And the
blues never felt so good. Amen.


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