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24 March 2012 | 9:33 am | Dan Condon

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David Bromberg has played with everyone from Bob Dylan to Link Wray to The Eagles as well as established a deep well of incredible material of his own. He hasn't been here in over 20 years. “1903 I think it was,” he quips from his Wilmington, Delaware home when asked when his last visit was. “A wonderful year.”

Much of the footage circulating of Bromberg's live shows featuring him in full flight with his Big Band, but logistics get in the way of bringing them to Australia. “The Big Band is eleven pieces so that's pretty hard to move around, but the quartet is a pretty versatile group and I'm proud of it – we play some nice music. I like having three horns, it gives you a great feeling of power, but there's a little intimacy you can get with the quartet that's a little different. The strange thing is, I don't plan the shows. I've never planned a set in my life. Just before we hit the stage we decide on what the first tune will be and then the tunes kind of string themselves together.”

There's no doubt Bromberg has friends in high places. His latest record, Use Me, features songs performed by Bromberg, but written and produced by the likes of Los Lobos, Vince Gill, Dr John, Levon Helm and John Hiatt to name a few. While he hopes each gig he's done has helped shape his style, he's just not sure.

“I hope I've taken something from every gig I've done but that's a lot of gigs. When I was a studio musician in New York I was on over 150 LPs – that's a lot of recording and a lot of different artists – but I think I learned a lot during those days. The thing is, if you're smart – and I try to be smart – you don't stop learning.”

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For 22 years though, his learning took on a different form. He opened a violin shop and turned his back on the world of touring and recording. “The first thing you have to understand about me is that I'm a complete idiot,” he retorts. “I was touring at an unreal rate; I was on the road for two years without being home for as long as two weeks. If you do stuff like that you're gonna get burnt out, but I never believed I could get burnt out. I didn't want to be one of those guys who drags his sorry arse out on stage and does a bitter imitation of something he use to love. I didn't wanna be that guy – there's plenty of them.”

In that time however hip hop fans got to know David Bromberg, as his song Sharon lent its main riff to Beastie Boys' classic 1989 track, Johnny Ryall. “I felt very good about it,” Bromberg admits of the New York rappers appropriating his song. “At this point it wasn't necessary to pay the people who wrote the material that you sampled. But they said, notwithstanding their right to sample, they wanted to pay me. We worked out a deal and when I sent them the signed contract they asked for an autographed photo, which made me feel very, very good. It was a wonderful thing. That they wanted it was a great compliment.

Was he happy with how they used his riff? “Why not? What's not to be happy about? Any time anyone shows appreciation for your work, you're an ingrate if you can't appreciate it. You can't determine how someone is going to relate to it, everyone relates to it in their own way and that's as it should be.”