Angel Band opens for the seasoned performer
David Bromberg was one of the first performers to sell out this year, and for good reason. The multitalented Bromberg has been making music for over four decades, and has a dedicated and loyal following – many of whom were in the audience for his Nov. 20 performance.
The opening act for the night was Angel Band, fronted by artist and Bromberg’s wife, Nancy Josephson. Josephson and the other two female vocalists – Aly Paige and Kathleen Weber – produce stunning, soaring harmonies. Each singer is a powerhouse on her own, and the women took turns with the lead vocals.
I was reminded of the tight and innovative harmonies of the band Red Molly, who also have appeared at Landmark.
Other members of Angel Band included Bob Taylor on bass, Marc Moss on guitar and mandolin, Josh Kanusky on drums, and Nate Grower, an incredibly talented fiddle player who is also part of Bromberg’s quartet. During the course of Angel Band’s set, members of Bromberg’s quartet, including Bromberg himself, stepped in to play as well.
Angel Band was promoting their new CD – “Bless My Sole” – an homage to shoes, neo-folk music, and Americana. The harmonies and musicianship of the performers was breathtaking.
I particularly was impressed with the songs “King of Nothing” with guest guitar playing by Bromberg, and “Boots of Guadalupe,” a tribute to a coveted pair of boots that Josephson spotted while performing in New Mexico.
Some of the songs had a country sound reminiscent of the Dixie Chicks, which probably isn’t surprising considering that the new CD was co-produced by Lloyd Maines, who won a Grammy for his work with the Dixie Chicks (as well as being the father of the Dixie Chicks’ lead singer Natalie Maines).
But as wonderful as Angel Band was — and they really were — the audience was there to see Bromberg. After a short intermission, the audience’s wish came true.
I must admit that although I’d heard of Bromberg, I don’t believe that I’d ever actually heard him before. And I certainly had never seen him. In fact, I could have walked by him a dozen times in Port Washington and never noticed. Bromberg, for all his incredible talent, is an unassuming-looking man. He looks, in fact, like any guy you might see in Starbucks or the grocery. But then he picked up his guitar and became another person.
Bromberg is truly a multi-instrumentalist. During the course of his performance, he played at various times an acoustic guitar, an electric guitar, a mandolin and a fiddle – and he was superb on every instrument he picked up.
His quartet included the amazing fiddle player Nate Grower (who is the only person I’ve ever heard play blues on the violin), Mitch Corbin (another multi-instrumentalist who played guitar, mandolin and fiddle), and Butch Amiot on bass and excellent high harmonies.
The first piece was sort of a “hoe-down” number, with Bromberg, Grower and Corbin all furiously playing the fiddle. The music over the rest of the night ranged from blues, to folk, to political-themed songs, and of course humor – something which Bromberg has plenty of.
Particularly impressive were Bromberg’s unusual renditions of other people’s songs. Specifically, he did innovative covers of “Over the Rainbow” (as an instrumental), the blues number “Drown in My Own Tears,” Carole King’s “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow,” and the ever popular Sam Cooke song, “Wonderful World.” Bromberg ended the show with a rousing 15-minute performance of his song “Sharon,” a captivating narrative whose bass line was later sampled by the Beastie Boys on their album “Paul’s Boutique.” During the song, Bromberg demonstrated his range of vocal abilities including growls, howls, and other appropriate sounds. At the conclusion of the number, the audience jumped to its feet, roaring in approval. Bromberg humbly thanked the crowd, explaining that “we don’t get paid to play. They just pay us to get here.”
This concert was part of Landmark’s Roots Rock series. The series continues on Jan. 22, 2011, with Diane Birch. The next performance at Landmark is Red Horse, part of the Fabulous Folk Series, on Dec. 4.