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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Seasoned the Day with the Folk

About five minutes had passed since his scheduled performance. The tension of the audience for the stringed instrument virtuoso had swollen like a balloon and was about to explode. Then, enthusiastic plaudits rang out-enough to shut out the noise of the usual airplanes flying over the UMass Boston campus. One of the spotlighted musicians in the 2004 Boston Folk Festival, David Bromberg and his band, stuck their needle into the balloon with “Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down.”

It was chilly at a few minutes passed three o’clock, yet Bromberg (saying “I want to sweat when I’m playing!”) involved his audience in a yoo-hoo war cry and performed on his mandolin. His soulful voice and the mandolin’s high-pitched sound drove everyone, including Bromberg himself and his members, into the more excitement, and there were almost no breaks between songs.

Today, as it was named David Bromberg Quartet, Bromberg had three more players to complete his performance: Butch Amiot, Jeff Wisor and Mitch Corbin.

Introducing his last song, “I’ll Take You Back,” as “my kinda lullaby,” Bromberg reminded us that he was also an excellent entertainer. The lyrics presented a sarcastic figure, one who was unwilling to take his lover back. His updated lyrics today included “[I’ll take you back] when George Bush eliminates the national debt” and “when they find the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.” Although seven songs were definitely too few to satisfy his fans, David Bromberg had to pass his baton to the next performer, Sam Bush.

In a sense, the audience was no less excited than with the appearance of David Bromberg. Bromberg and Sam Bush have known each other for more than twenty years, and they actually performed together the day before in New York. Bromberg sincerely praises Sam Bush saying, “As a musician he is a wonderful guy, and as a human being too.” No doubt. Selecting songs from his most recent CD, King of My World (released April 13, 2004 by Sugar Hill), Sam Bush kicked his audience on. In fact, some of the more enthusiastic in the audience, including some press, stood up and started dancing in front of his stage.

Sam Bush’s powerful voice and his beat became almost unstoppable. It was nearly a quarter to five, and two layers of clothing weren’t warm enough to stand on the outside stage. Nevertheless, Sam Bush and his co-performer, with a half-sleeve shirt on, kept their guitar and mandolin alive. In fact, Sam Bush’s entertainment continued even after his performance. Over a fence that separated him and his fans during the concert, Sam Bush reached over to them, signed his autograph, had talk, and gave a long hug and a handshake. It was surely the most precious moment for those fans.

While David Bromberg and Sam Bush were attracting their fans at the Field Stage, which is usually a front soccer field, the Plaza Stage, between Healey Library and Quinn Building, was welcoming the end of 2004 Boston Folk Festival with a joint concert, “A Hard Days Night,” performed by Lucy Kaplansky, Mark Erelli, Robin Greenstein, Girlyman and Greg Greenway. This was a folk view of songs from the Beatles’ songbooks and included parodies too. These performers had played alone at other stages; to see them together at one place was more exciting for fans than during the rest of the festival, and the near-endless standing ovation at the end showed the satisfaction of the folk music fans.

As the 2004 Boston Folk Festival was about to end, the evening glow behind the Harbor Point burned the sky into scarlet, as if it had reflected the music lovers’ passionate hearts. For three days, they had drunk deep of the best music produced by their favorite performers, and I’m sure that they will have a hangover the next morning.