David Bromberg - guitar, lead vocals; Dick Fegy - fiddle, guitar, mandolin, banjo; John Firman - saxophone; Brantley Kearns - fiddle, mandolin, vocals; Hugh McDonald - bass, vocals; Steve Mosley - drums, vocals; John Payne - saxophone; Andy Stein - saxophone
David Bromberg has always exhibited great versatility and a diverse range of styles in his live performances. Whether he was solo acoustic or accompanied by a band, he displayed a great mastery of stringed instruments and had a humorous, engaging stage presence few could match. Bromberg's popularity as a recording artist was peaking in the mid-1970s, after he released an impressive line of albums on Columbia, featuring notable contributions from the likes of George Harrison and members of the Grateful Dead. He assembled what was probably his finest touring band during the 1975/1976 era, releasing the highly acclaimed and influential studio album, Midnight On The Water and its 1976 half live/half studio follow-up, How Late'll Ya Play 'Til. These two albums captured Bromberg and cohorts playing folk, country, blues, traditional, rock 'n' roll and bluegrass. In defiance of being locked into any one genre, this group featured outstanding musicianship, regardless of the material, and with Bromberg's diversity and skill, delivered some of the most engaging live performances of the mid-1970s.
This June 1975 Record Plant recording is literally a bridge between the two above mentioned albums, falling right in between and containing captivating live renditions of Midnight On The Water material and earlier live takes on some of the How Late'll Ya Play 'til material. A few choice favorites from previous albums are also thrown in for good measure, like Bromberg's take on the classic "Statesboro Blues" and an extended "New Lee Highway Blues," which contains a sizzling fiddle jam at the end.
The Midnight On The Water album was the new release at the time, so it is no surprise that this material dominates the set. The rockin' blues of "I Like To Sleep Late In The Morning," the hyper-bluegrass of "Dark Hollow" and Bromberg's sadly-tinged vocal on "Mr. Blue" all benefit from the immediacy of the small in-studio audience. These songs are thoroughly engaging here, and Bromberg's instrumental skills and sense of humor are readily apparent. The group also performs the ever popular "Yankee Revenge Medley," giving modern treatments to its traditional elements in a manner similar to Fairport Convention.
The two songs that would later be released on How Late'll Ya Play 'til are Bromberg classics. Both "Sloppy Drunk" and "Will Not Be Your Fool" are full of his humorous insights, and exemplary musicianship abounds. The latter song stretches to nearly 10 minutes and is thoroughly engaging the entire time. Much the same can be said for this entire set, which captures Bromberg and friends at the top of their game, as the comfortable setting and the choice of material bring out the best in these musicians. These performances are a welcome alternate view of his classic mid-1970s material and a fine addition to Bromberg's recorded legacy.
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