Live Review

Bromberg's Big Noise Festival

David Bromberg on May 20, 2017

David Bromberg

When I saw a notice online for David Bromberg’s Big Noise Festival I was immediately interested. The lineup of The David Bromberg Big Band, Dr. John, Anders Osborne, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams and Front Country consisted of bands that I have photographed before, bands that I listen to but haven’t had the opportunity to shoot before, and one band that I never heard of, but you all know how I love learning about new bands.

I love these one day festivals and this one was also close to home. I also wondered about the festival itself. The event started in 2010 as a very successful fundraiser by Bill Taylor and Bromberg’s wife, Nancy Josephson, for the redevelopment of The Queen Theater in Wilmington but only lasted that one year and The Queen opened successfully. Matthew VanBelle who was involved in 2010, pitched the idea to Nancy to bring the event back and restore a really great success that could pay tribute to Bromberg and his music. Because Bromberg’s music and experience and influence was wide they thought that bringing in performers of note that touched on that experience would be the foundation of a great festival.

They are correct, at least this year and I hope for many years to come.

Front Country opened the show and they were exceptional. They said from the stage that they were floored to be playing on the bill with such incredible acts but they held their own. Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams followed. They have a wonderfully musical relationship with Bromberg over the years and they are fantastic. I have photographed them a number of times and love their music. Oh yeah, also really nice people. They started their set with “You’ve Got to Righten That Wrong” and then got into songs from their latest self titled album. If you can’t catch these two live do yourself a favor and get the album.

The next couple of bands had a really great New Orleans flavor. Anders Osborne followed by none other than Dr. John. Two different but delicious flavors of New Orleans. Osborne’s intro into music was through the likes of Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Jackson Browne, and Joni Mitchell records. He fell in love with the vocal styles of Ray Charles, Van Morrison and Lowell George. Then he heard the blues of Robert Johnson and the rest is history. He loved how it all came from the blues. Does he rock the blues? You better believe he does. His set was a good mixture of old and new. “Louisiana Gold”, and “Back On Dumaine” and then on to his new album, Flower Box, with “Born To Die Together”, “Different Drum”, and the title song “Flower Box”.

Was he influenced by Bromberg’s blues along the way? No doubt.

Dr. John and The Nite Trippers came to the stage and broke into “IKO IKO” and then straight into many of his well known hits such as “Right Place Wrong Time” and “Such A Night”. The good Dr. was laying it down. His bond with Bromberg goes way back.

The Chris Robinson Brotherhood was welcomed to the stage with thunderous applause. Their fans were waiting. The didn’t disappoint. Their music has been called Cosmic California, classic rock in the finest sense, and the band referred to as the standard bearers of the psychedelic roots torch. They launched into their new album, Barefoot In The Head and totally rocked the house.




I guess that brings us to The Big Noise himself. As I said Bromberg’s influence ran all through the festival and you could hear it all day. But, when David Bromberg joins his big band on stage it is truly something else to behold and I mean that. I have seen Bromberg perform and photographed him quite a few times. Solo with his guitar, joining others like Jorma Kaukonen, and Arlo Guthrie, and others, but when he brings his big band it is a different show and I love it.

Bromberg sings the blues in a folksy kind of way and if you have never heard the blues with horns, violins, and backup singers listen up. It is his brand and he makes it work. He started his set with his classic hit “Sharon”. To me it is him saying “hello folks I’m David Bromberg”. He then got into a number of songs from his recent album The Blues The Whole Blues and Nothing But The Blues. I could go on forever about Bromberg and his music. Needless to say I totally enjoy it. I also totally enjoyed the entire day. I hope it was a big success and it continues to happen. If so, I’ll be back.


Mark J. Smith