Live New York City 1982, originally pulled from David Bromberg’s tape stash for limited edition sales a few years back, is the only album to date by the bluegrass-oriented David Bromberg Quartet (DBQ), but it sounds as fresh as if recorded on their current spring/summer tour. Newly remastered for re-release on Appleseed, and now sporting droll, informative liner notes by David, Live NYC 1982 features three of the current members of the Quartet – Bromberg (vocals, guitar, fiddle, mandolin), award-winning fiddler Jeff Wisor (also mandolin, harmony vocals), and “Butch” Amiot (bass guitar, harmony vocals) – and Gene Johnson (mandolin, fiddle, harmony vocals), who now plays with the successful country/bluegrass band Diamond Rio and was eventually replaced by ex-Greenbriar Boy Bobby Tangrea. David’s own bluegrass credentials include performing or recording with Jerry Douglas, Vassar Clements, Doc Watson, Bela Fleck, Tony Trischka and other pantheon-level pickers, as well as playing countless folk, country, and pop sessions for everyone from Bob Dylan to Dion. (Bromberg, Tangrea, and Wisor are also part of Chum, the backing group for Angel Band, the vocal trio led by Bromberg’s wife, Nancy Josephson; the second Angel Band CD, With Roots & Wings, was released in May by Appleseed.)
The DBQ’s breathtaking mixture of precision and abandon, both instrumentally and vocally, is quickly established by the medley of fiddle tunes that spins off Live NYC 1982’s opening “Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down,” as guitar, fiddle, and mandolin weave a high-speed whirlwind out of “Red Apple Rag,” “Turkey in the Straw,” “Dixie Hoedown” and other traditional finger-busters, climaxing in a three fiddle rave-up (with David playing the first fiddle he built while on hiatus).
Interspersed between exuberant, uptempo bluegrass staples such as “Stay All Night” and “Sally Gooden” are more leisurely standards, including “Dark Hollow,” “On Our Last Date” (a melancholy Conway Twitty – Floyd Cramer song), a lovely instrumental called “Ookpik Waltz,” and a pair of acoustic blues numbers (Leroy Carr’s “Midnight Hour Blues” and Furry Lewis’s hilarious “The Creeper’s Blues,” a tale of man versus bedbug). More contemporary fare includes Bob Dylan’s country waltz, “Wallflower” (which he and David first recorded for a Doug Sahm album), David Massengill’s delicate “Fairfax County” murder ballad, and Ralph McTell’s humorous Old West pastiche, “When I Was a Cowboy.” Aside from adapting and arranging all of the traditional material here, Bromberg also wrote the road lament, “The New Lee Highway Blues” (“It was a stinking summer trip to Southern hell”). High, lonesome harmonies, mindboggling instrumental chops, and a contagious sense of fun make Live New York City 1982 a must-have release for Bromberg’s many fans, old and new, and for all lovers of acoustic American music.