The following is a press release from the Library of Congress’s Office of Communications.
Press contact: Jennifer Gavin (202) 707-1940
Public contact: Nancy Groce (202) 707-1744
American folk-music legend David Bromberg, a guitar and fiddle virtuoso who has become a renowned expert in rare violins, has donated papers pertaining to his musical career to the Library of Congress’ American Folklife Center.
The collection, dating from Bromberg’s early stage days playing with such folk luminaries as Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger and Doc Watson, includes notes, letters, photographs, ephemera from shows (including posters and programs) and audio and video recordings documenting public and private performances.
“The American Folklife Center is thrilled to get such a varied collection reflecting the rich and diverse career of David Bromberg,” said Elizabeth Peterson, director of the Library’s American Folklife Center. “From his early days with Rev. Gary Davis to his more recent work with a wide array of folk and popular musicians, the materials in this collection will reveal a lot about American music. We’re excited to preserve it and to share it with researchers.”
“Throughout my musical life I was always trying to capture the essence of the music of America,” Bromberg said. “That my musical adventure has a home at the library of the American people is both humbling and a high honor.”
Bromberg, a native of Philadelphia brought up in Tarrytown, N.Y., first took up the acoustic guitar at age 13, and was so skilled on the instrument by the time he attended Columbia University to study musicology that he was invited to back up several singers at appearances in the mid-1960s, when folk-music fervor was sweeping the nation. There, he met his mentor, the Rev. Gary Davis, whose blues guitar influenced a generation.
Bromberg worked as a backing musician for Tom Paxton, Jerry Jeff Walker, and Rosalie Sorrels, and played on recordings by Dylan, Link Wray, The Eagles, Ringo Starr, Bonnie Raitt, Willie Nelson and Carly Simon. He co-wrote and recorded “The Holdup” with George Harrison and has shared stages or recordings with artists ranging from members of the Grateful Dead to fellow guitarist Jorma Kaukonen. He has worked with the Beastie Boys and Emmylou Harris.
In 1970, backing Sorrels at the famous Isle of Wight Festival in England, he found himself soloing onstage and wowed 600,000 concertgoers, prompting a four-record contract with Columbia Records.
Rooted in folk, Bromberg’s repertoire expanded to include blues, bluegrass, ragtime, country and ethnic music. In 1980, Bromberg decided to get off the road and study violinmaking at a school in Chicago. He and his artist/musician wife, Nancy Josephson, lived in Chicago for several years, a base from which he still occasionally performed; but in 2002 they moved to Wilmington, Delaware, where they are now the proprietors of David Bromberg Fine Violins, which sells and repairs fine instruments.
Bromberg has returned to the stage part-time and has recorded two albums since moving to Delaware: “Try Me One More Time” (2007), nominated for a Grammy in the category of Traditional Folk Album, and “Use Me” (2011) in which he performs songs written by John Hiatt, Guy Clark, Dr. John, Keb’ Mo’ and David Hidalgo.
The American Folklife Center was created by Congress in 1976 and placed at the Library of Congress to “preserve and present American Folklife” through programs of research, documentation, archival preservation, reference service, live performance, exhibition, public programs and training. For more information, visit loc.gov/folklife/.
The Library of Congress, the nation’s first-established federal cultural institution, is the world’s preeminent reservoir of knowledge, providing unparalleled collections and integrated resources to Congress and the American people. Many of the Library’s rich resources may also be accessed through the Library’s website, loc.gov.
In the player below, see David Bromberg interviewed by Library of Congress curators in the first installment of AFC’s Open Mic series.