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Bromberg met Hooker in New York at folk clubs in Greenwich Village and used to perform some of the songs, though he said it is been a while and declined to do one at this point.Instead, he decided to play a song by Big Bill Broonzy. I have known it as the “Mule Ridin’ Blues,” though Bromberg remembers it being called the “Hey Bub Blues” on one album. We discussed the folk revival and how exciting it was to meet some of the original blues musicians in and around New York in the 1960s and 70s, as well as some of the other blues players in the revival.
Fortunately, the father of one of his friends had a big 78 collection, and Bromberg got to listen to them.
Another topic was Clarksdale, Mississippi and the surrounding area, from which so many great blues artists came from.
Davis was from South Carolina and is usually classified as an “Piedmont style” artist, but his influence on the folk and blues revival artists such as Bromberg, as well as Rory Block and many others, was tremendous.
I asked Bromberg who his favorite Mississippi artist was, expecting it would be Robert Johnson, but he named Skip James instead.
We briefly mentioned another favorite artist of his, and mine, King Solomon Hill, who only made a few recordings, haunting blues pieces on slide guitar, often employing falsetto singing.
Bromberg says he cannot play any of those pieces at this time.
Producer John Hammond had sought Johnson for the famous “From Spirituals To Swing” concerts at Carnegie Hall in 19, but when looking for him in 1938, Hammond found that he had died (and Big Bill Broonzy was ultimately selected in his stead).
Bromberg performed the Robert Johnson song “Kindhearted Woman Blues.” We also talked about how he takes songs like “Kindhearted Woman Blues” and does them his own way, not trying to copy the originals.
Bromberg wondered if there was something in the water around there!
Among the artists from the area was John Lee Hooker whose hypnotic one-chord pieces were very different from the sound of Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, and such.