Born in Philadelphia on September 19, 1945, David Bromberg grew up in Tarrytown, New York. Inspired by the music of Pete Seeger and the Weavers—among others—he began studying the guitar at the age of 13. After graduation from Tarrytown High School, he enrolled at Columbia University intent on a career as a musicologist.
Drawn to Greenwich Village’s flourishing coffeehouse folk music scene in the mid-1960s, Bromberg opted for performance combined with his studies; he left school in the middle of his second year, however, to devote himself full-time to his music. Shortly thereafter, his extraordinary guitar-picking and exceptional stylistic range brought him to the attention of many other musicians: Bob Dylan, Ringo Starr, John Hurt, the Reverend Gary Davis, Tom Paxton, and Chubby Checker are only a few of the notables who sought Bromberg out as backup artist for recording. In all, he has played as sideman on over 75 albums.
In 1970 Bromberg decided to become a soloist performing his own and traditional American music, and following a spectacular unscheduled performance at ’s Isle of Wight Festival that year he was signed to his first recording contract, which resulted in the release of four albums: David Bromberg, Demon in Disguise, Wanted Dead or Alive, and Midnight on the Water.
His initial album for Fantasy Records, entitled How Late’ll Ya Play ‘Til?, features the entire David Bromberg band in a two-record set. One disc contains a live performance, recorded at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, and the other, produced by David and his longtime friend Steve Burgh, was recorded at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley.
A singular performer/writer/arranger, Bromberg’s remarkable musical versatility and innovative resourcefulness have earned him vast critical and popular acclaim. He is also impossible to classify: As New York Times jazz critic John S. Wilson perceptively wrote, "David Bromberg fits no pigeonholes. He is part of everything contemporarily musical. He is a product of blues, country, jazz, folk, and classical music.” Added Wilson, "From his early success as a guitar virtuoso, Mr. Bromberg has developed into a brilliant entertainer.”
An SRO favorite in concert halls, clubs, and colleges across the nation, Bromberg is one of the most charismatic performers before the public today. Concerts by David and his hand are extraordinary events, and performances follow no set pattern of selection. Give and take between performer and audience is complete, spontaneous, and totally sincere. "He now has such control of his audience,” writes critic Wilson, "that he can, at one moment, hold it in his hand with a tender, touching yet funny anecdotal song, and then set it romping and stomping with a raucous bit of raunch. He is electrifying.”
When talking about himself, Bromberg, in addition to being a musician’s musician, is very much his own man. As realistic as he is dedicated, he speaks out openly about his career: "I figure that I’ll get exactly as successful as I’m supposed to, no more, no less. I’m not going to fight it and I’m not going to grovel for it. I’m not going to act surly in order to preserve my anonymity or folkie status, and I won’t eat dirt so that somebody will bill me in some special concert—I don’t believe in that. The only time that I do get surly is when someone tells me how to do my music. That’s all I’ve got. It’s the sum total. I’m not married; I’ve got no kids: I spend my life on the road and I’ve no hobbies beyond playing guitar, fiddle, and mandolin. There’s nothing else in my life, so don’t mess with it.”