David Bromberg Doesn't Want to Be "a Bitter Imitation of Something He Used to Love"

After 40 years in the biz, David Bromberg doesn't exactly come across like a musician who's moved in the same circles as Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jerry Garcia, Carly Simon, and Willie Nelson. But those and other superstars have availed themselves of his guitar skills. In fact, with his graying bushy beard and amiable way, he could easily be mistaken for a wizened rabbi, offering a combination of age and reassurance that belies his storied past. Responding to a compliment about his latest album, he confirms that unassuming impression: "Oh thank you," he says humbly. "I'm real proud of it. I like the thing."

Given that his early career took flight on the folk circuit while backing such venerable singer/songwriters as Jerry Jeff Walker and Tom Paxton, that humility seems to come naturally, even though the series of critically acclaimed solo albums he recorded throughout the '70s made him a candidate for stardom all on his own. Still, he abruptly retreated from the spotlight in the early '90s, changing his tack and becoming a full-time violin maker.