David Bromberg / David Johansen: Town Hall 25 April 2014

My last concert before a six-month hiatus. It could have been a bigger blowout but what I got was pretty damn good.

Both acts brought out all the anarchic old hippies switching seats as soon as they came in and throughout the show. No photos were allowed and there was constant picture taking. I was a good girl and didn’t take any photos – also I love both these artists but I don’t think I want close-ups of either one.

David Johansen did the similar act that I saw at the Turning Point back in January 2010. That time he and Brian Koonis (acoustic guitar, hi-hat, drum pad) ended with “Funky, But Chic.” This time they opened with it. We heard some Buster Poindexter, New York Dolls, Harry Smiths, solo David Johansen. Second song was “Melody.” We also heard old blues, new Dolls (“Making Rain”), “Pills,” and “Frenchette.” Koonis worked the hi-hat with one foot and the drum pad with the other while he played guitar.

Todd Rundgren produced Cause I Sez So on his home on Kawaii. Johansen described it as a Cambodian drug lord’s pagoda. Also, Kawaii is the garden island – just like New Jersey but an island.

Buster Poindexter is out of Betty Ford after 17 years and will be performing at the Café Carlyle.

The encore was “Heart of Gold.” They didn’t leave the stage and we promised not to tell 802.

The crowd adored Johansen and he always seems thrilled to be on stage.

The last time I saw David Bromberg was a few years ago at Town Hall. Here I was again in the very last row. Great view and great acoustics. The one thing I noticed is how much Bromberg has slowed down. Every song used to have a musical coda that lasted as long as the sung part of the song – everyone would solo and everyone would play different instruments and then all on mandolin and/or all on fiddle. No more. Each musician has his or her instruments and Bromberg gets very tired midway the set.

Bromberg only played guitar (acoustic and electric), which was disappointing since he is a master fiddle and mandolin player. The Big Band is Butch Amiot (electric bass, vocals), Mark Cosgrove (guitars, mandolin, vocals), Nate Grower (fiddle, mandolin, guitar, vocals), Josh Kanusky (drums, vocals), John Firmin (tenor sax, soprano sax, clarinet, pennywhistle), Peter Ecklund (trumpet, cornet, flugelhorn), Harvy Tibbs (trombone), Nancy Josephson (vocals), Kathleen Weber (vocals), and Natalee Smith (vocals).

The back up vocalists came out during the pause in “Send Me to the Electric Chair” and Bromberg made a big funny deal of it. He did the blues with the spoken middle and even played one request (“Living in the Country” – the last request you’ll get out of my ass). Bromberg wrote an old English drinking song that was a lot of fun – “The Strongest Man Alive.” “Bring It on Home to Me” also had a long story in the middle.

After Cosgrove played solo, Bromberg came out and played a duet with him of “Turkey in the Straw,” which was the closest we got to a young Bromberg.

We heard “Summer Wages,” another blues song and bang – no encore. Show over.

If you had nothing to compare it to the show was fantastic. But if you remember the old days when he played Schaefer in Central Park or years later when he played his yearly show at the Bottom Line, it was a bit disappointing.

By Carene Lydia Lopez