David Bromberg//Photo by Joe del Tufo
David Bromberg—aka the “Godfather of Americana”—is truly a First State treasure. During his 70-plus years, Bromberg has mastered many instruments and collaborated with some of the industry’s most respected musicians, including Bob Dylan and George Harrison. Bromberg moved to Wilmington in 2002 and opened a violin shop on Market Street as part of a downtown renaissance effort. He continued an impressive musical career, recording several albums (including one Grammy nominee), hosting popular local jam sessions and presenting top-level acts through Bromberg’s Big Noise music festival (Friday, June 8, at Constitution Yards Beer Garden and Saturday, June 9, at Tubman-Garrett Riverfront Park). We chatted on the phone while he was touring with his Big Band.
You’re on the road as we speak?
Right now I’m in Newark, Ohio, and tomorrow we’re in Kentucky.
So you must still enjoy touring.
I enjoy it a lot … I have a question for you. I had forgotten about the timing of this, which is fine, but would you be all right if I kind of eat some lunch while we talk?
That wouldn’t bother me a bit. I appreciate your good manners. So touring must still be rewarding for you.
A lot of it has to do with how much I love playing with my bandmates. We’ve got a really good group of people and we respect the way we do our jobs, and we’re proud to be doing it together.
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How has touring changed during the past 20 years?
Well, 20 years ago I was on tour with a larger group, played bigger venues, and we traveled in a tour bus. These days we travel in a Sprinter van, and there are just six of us instead of eight or 11.
Who creates the lineup for Big Noise?
Matt Van Belle. He’s the promoter. He does all of that work, and he has a pretty good knowledge of who I’ve played with and who I like, so he hires people who are mostly friends of mine or who I’ve performed with in the past.
Who are you most familiar with from this year’s lineup?
Los Lobos are good friends. I’ve done a lot of things with David Hidalgo and the entire band. I’m always glad to see them. I sat in with them when they played World Cafe Live.
Are you happy with the festival?
This year it’s two days. In the past it’s been one day. So the festival is building.
So it could be the next Firefly?
I have no idea. I’m really the wrong guy to ask those questions. I wouldn’t know Firefly if I took a shower with it.
You’ve been dubbed the “Godfather of Americana.” Where did that come from and how do you feel about it?
It’s all marketing. I don’t have anything to do with that. It’s nothing I’ve spent any time thinking about.
I feel like I’m just annoying you now.
No. (Laughs.) That’s just the answer.
Other than Big Noise, is there anything else big on the horizon for you?
Well, we’re planning world domination. Aside from that, not a whole lot.