This seemed like an odd (but intriguing) combination when we saw it advertised: David Bromberg and Larry (F.) Campbell at the Bull Run. But then we realized that David Bromberg can play with anyone, and that this wasn't odd, it was exciting! Tickets procured in the front row, we got more and more psyched for this, apparently along with a lot of other people, who sold the place out early.
So on Friday the 24th we headed over there after work, had another nice Bull Run dinner and beers, didn't run into Larry in the bathroom (though Dave had a sighting), and watched the place get packed. Larry and David came on 30 minutes or so past advertised starting time, but this was understandable seeing as how frantic the place had gotten.
David was in a fine, talkative mood. Who wouldn't be tickled playing with Larry? And he told us about having played with Larry for years in backstage sessions between Dylan shows, etc. He said that Bob had complained once that his band had more fun and played better with Bromberg than with him. Oh well oh well!
And then Larry produced the tracks that David had done with Levon on his recent record, and they were determined after that to put out a whole record together and maybe get in some touring. We're glad they did!
It's hard to characterize what they played beyond saying it was like a Bromberg record, a little of this and a little of that. Larry was doing the multi-instrumentalist thing, alternating between two guitars (one of which had a large sound hole and a wonderful, low and rich sound), a mandolin, and a fiddle. David picked his guitar like the world was ending and did the same to his mandolin once in a while.
And did Bromberg pick! Larry is incredible, but his best runs only served to egg on David, whose fingers were absolutely dancing on the fretboard. A big difference between them is that David is one of those players who hunkers down over his instrument and melds into it. Larry holds his instruments like he's in a classroom so they can resonate with a pure sound. David's sound is personal.
One of the early highlights of the show for me was when they slid into Willie's How Time Slips Away. This is one of my all-time favorite songs and they just pulled it out of nowhere. Of course David had to give it the Chicago blues ending, hitting the "in time you're going to pay" line that
Willie downplays, like that was the whole point of the song. Well, maybe it is.
They played reels, blues, airs, and everything they could think of. Far from having a setlist, they wrangled between each song about what they were going to tackle next, ending up alternating with songs they each chose. Could either of them pick a song that the other one didn't know? Maybe if we stayed about 10 times as long as we did.
After a long, long set (extended by Larry when David was ready to quit), they came out for an encore and played goddamn Turkey In the Straw! Wonderful to end the night with such an old chestnut.