At what point does a musician stop being a musician?
Once you’ve studied and practiced, written and performed — with the likes of George Harrison and Bob Dylan, no less — it seems as though it would be difficult to give up music. Yet 17 years ago,the change was a natural step for guitarist David Bromberg, who, at the time, decided he had recorded his last studio album.
Happily, Bromberg changed his mind. This year, he released the appropriately titled “Try Me One More Time,” a collection of classic blues songs. He’s performing again, too, with an appearance at the Little Fox in Redwood City on Monday.
But years ago, Bromberg says, “I reached a point where I just couldn’t do it anymore. … I was burned out, that was what it was. But I didn’t think that I could ever be burned out — I thought it was all over, and that I wasn’t a musician anymore. I didn’t practice, I didn’t jam and I didn’t write. So I figured, I used to be a musician, but I’m not now.”
Weary from constant touring, Bromberg put down his guitar, began studying violin construction, and eventually opened a violin shop in Wilmington, Del.
“I didn’t want to be like some people, who perform because they just don’t know how to do anything else, you know?” Bromberg says. “I had to find a new way of life. And I did.”
Fortunately, the Wilmington music scene helped resuscitate Bromberg’s love for the guitar and inspired him to make a new studio recording. The spare “Try Me One More Time” features Bromberg on vocals, accompanying himself on acoustic guitar. The album features songs penned by blues legends Robert Johnson and Elizabeth Cotten, as well as Bromberg’s guitar teacher, renowned blind bluesman Reverend Gary Davis, and several others.
So what does the self-proclaimed ex-musician think of life on the road this time around?
“I’m really enjoying it,” Bromberg says. “I’m aware of what it was that was too much, and so I’m very careful about what I do these days. I don’t go out on tour for very long periods of time anymore. I don’t play very many bars at all. I don’t play two sets a night. I have it structured so that I have a lot of fun. It seems to me to be the way to do it — and I’m lucky I’m able to.”
David Bromberg, with the Angel Band and Paul Thorn
Where: Little Fox, 2209 Broadway, Redwood City
When: 8 p.m. Monday
Tickets: $30 to $32
Contact: (650) 369-4119 or www.foxdream.com