It’s not often that singer-songwriter David Bromberg bails on a show.
But in January, he did just that when he was set to play a gig at the Rialto Theatre.
“I was supposed to be there some months ago and for the second time in I don’t know how many years — approaching 50 — I cancelled the show because I was too sick to play,” said the 71-year-old artist.
He’s fine now — it was just a flu-ish thing that laid him out — and he’s ready to get back to Tucson, where he’s been fairly regularly since he returned to touring and recording in the early 2000s after a 20-year hiatus. He will perform his make-up date on Wednesday, Sept. 6, at the Rialto.
Bromberg said he doesn’t really get to decide where he plays — that’s a discussion between the venue and his agent — so he has little say about his regular Tucson stops.
“But I will tell you I do like playing in Tucson,” he said during a phone call in mid-August from his home in Wilmington, Delaware, where he and his wife run a violin and instrument shop. “I like the warm weather and the desert. It’s nice.”
He is coming here with his late 2016 CD, “The Blues, the Whole Blues and Nothing But the Blues,” which just won the Downbeat magazine editor’s award as the best blues album of 2017. The album includes two Bromberg originals and covers of 11 songs including Ray Charles’s “A Fool for You.”
“It’s entirely blues, but that actually gives you maybe more license than you might imagine,” he said of the album. “Nearly every species of music has something they call blues. You can do a lot of stuff even when you’re calling it only blues.”
So expect to hear some country and rock influences in there, soul and straight-up blues brought to full life when he and his band hit the stage.
“I love being part of this band,” he said. “Playing stuff live is the most fun any of us have.”
He’s bringing a quintet with him; sometimes he expands it to 11 musicians and dubs them The Big Band, which is the name of the band he performed with before leaving music in 1980.
“The quintet is like a sports car, the big band is like a Caddy, a luxury car,” he said. “I’m at the point where I like them both.”
He won’t need a lot of instruments to make his point and to prove that his career has a lot of life left.
“You know the thing about music is there’s no bottom to it,” he explained. “You can’t complete the cycle. There’s always more.”
And for Bromberg, more is best illustrated in the vast range of his repertoire. The mulit-instrumentalist has recorded roots albums including 1974’s “Wanted Dead or Alive,” the 1978 country blues album “My Own House” and his critically acclaimed 2011 album “Use Me,” a compilation of tracks written by other artists. Many of them, including Tucson’s own Linda Ronstadt, recorded their songs with Bromberg on the album.
Bromberg said he’s seen Ronstadt a couple times since that recording. Whenever he’s in San Francisco he will drop by; the last time was a few months ago, and he said she was doing as well as could be expected given her illness. Ronstadt was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2012 and at the time she reported that she believed she had had the disease for at least a dozen years.
“She has Parkinson’s and that only goes in one direction, and it’s not the direction you would like it to go,” he said.