The Arden Gild Hall in Delaware is set to join the list of Philadelphia-area venues producing livestream performances without an audience when they put on a David Bromberg birthday concert Sept. 19.
Bromberg, who lives in Wilmington, released his album, Big Road, credited to the David Bromberg Band, in April. The highly regarded guitarist is set to turn 75 the night of the show, which will celebrate his 50-plus-year career. He’ll perform at Arden with the David Bromberg Quintet, who haven’t played together since last November.
“Our drummer’s wife had a child that was due around that time, so we took some time off for a few months right before COVID hit,” Bromberg said Wednesday.
“So we haven’t played together in ages. And we are a band. It’s not just that we call it that, we really are. And every one of us misses playing with every other one of us, badly. So we’re dying to get together again.”
Bromberg says that his wife, the artist Nancy Josephson, is not coming to the show because she doesn’t want to be stressed out about her husband and his fellow musicians getting too close to each other on stage.
He promises that “we’re not going to hug this time. But we miss each other hugely.”
Bromberg was born on Sept. 19, 1945, at St. Agnes Hospital in South Philadelphia. He had originally planned to stage his birthday show at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, N.Y., near his childhood home in the Hudson Valley. But that gig has been postponed until 2021 due to the coronavirus, as have all of Bromberg’s scheduled tour dates in support of Big Road, which was released on Red House Records. In a review, The Inquirer’s Nick Cristiano said the album finds Bromberg putting “his own vibrant stamp on all manner of American roots music.”
Beyond his fame as a singer-songwriter, Bromberg is also a musicologist and all-around string instrument wizard. His store in downtown Wilmington, David Bromberg Fine Violins, reopened this month on a limited basis, by appointment, after closing in March due to the pandemic.
Last year, Bromberg announced that his plan to sell his collection of 263 violins to the Library of Congress for $1.7 million had fallen through and the instruments would be sold off piecemeal.
“I’m breaking it up,” he said Wednesday. “To my surprise, I’m getting a lot of emails from people about fairly obscure makers in my collection.”
The Bromberg show is the first ticketed virtual concert presented by Arden. Tickets are $30, with VIP options including exclusive access to a Bromberg video interview. Tickets are on sale at ArdenConcerts.com.
The storied Arden cultural center, located in a barn, was built in 1850. It hosted legendary folk singer Lead Belly in 1947 and Pete Seeger the following year. It now joins local venues like Ardmore Musical Hall and Chris’ Jazz Cafe in putting on ticketed shows with live bands playing onstage to empty seats.
The Gild Hall is using grant money from the Delaware Community Foundation and Nancy Banis Fund for upgrades to stream high-quality audio and video, with a forthcoming series of shows.
Bromberg says he’s not using the occasion of his 75th birthday to ponder his long career, which has included 19 studio albums and collaboration with musicians like Bob Dylan and many others. “I never look back,” he says. “I don’t find that productive.” Instead, he prefers to be “right in the moment.”
He is looking forward to being back on stage with his bandmates, with a set list that pulls from the 100 or so songs in their repertoire.
“Oh boy,” he said. “We’re all really looking forward to it. We’re ready to walk through walls to do it.”