For some musicians, the moment of recognition -- that split-second realization that, yes, playing music is going to be a career and not a hobby, that he or she can lay it down and stomp the performance -- is a small one. It's in a tiny club, maybe, or the enthusiastic response from one person in a crowd.
For guitarist and all-around string wizard David Bromberg, it was a big moment.
"Playing my first solo set ever, unplanned and unannounced, in front of 200,000 at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970 convinced me I could have a career," he writes in an email interview.
But that moment came long after Bromberg, who was born in Philadelphia, began studying guitar as a teenager in the late 1950s in New York. And in the half-century since he picked up his first guitar, he has toured the world and played on albums for familiar names like Bob Dylan, The Eagles, Willie Nelson and others.
"I love interacting with musicians -- that's what I've done for 50 years," he writes. "And it's gratifying to go to places as close as Philadelphia and as far away as Tokyo and have what you do appreciated."
Taking a break: Life on the road can be tough, though -- a sentiment Bromberg took to heart in the 1980s, when he put his performing career on hold to pursue a new direction: making violins.
"My interest in violins was the antidote to years of a grueling life on the road," he writes. Hanging out in a violin shop near his home at the time offered a way for Bromberg to decompress and investigate his new passion.
"I have built violins, and it is exacting work, but I've used those violins onstage with great success," he writes. Building violins, though, wasn't the main reason for his interest. Unlocking the secrets of their manufacture gave him the tools to study their stories and history.
"I learned how to build violins not to become a builder per se but to have the knowledge to identify them," he writes. "Uncovering their origins really became my passion."
Eventually, though, Bromberg found himself back on the stage -- while simultaneously running his violin shop in Wilmington, Del. He keeps a hectic schedule these days, but he knows how to get by:
"I'm a world-class 'napper' on planes, in cars, wherever," he writes. And he makes the time for the important people in his life. "I learned the hard way you need downtime. I love spending time with my wife, my children and just reading."
The York show: Heading into York on his "Use Me" tour, celebrating his recent album, Bromberg is coming off an extended string of performances overseas.
"My mood right now is a mix of satisfaction and exhaustion," he writes. "We just finished a three-week tour of Hawaii, Australia and Japan that spanned 28,000 miles and 14 shows."
But the exciting thing for Bromberg, his band and his audiences is that every show is different. He never knows what the night will bring.
"I had a blast playing with Los Lobos in California, getting a hug from Mavis Staples, having Allen Toussaint sit in with us on some tunes in New York," he writes. "For York, the audience can expect the unexpected -- I never script my shows. Other than the first tune, I have no idea what songs I will call. The room will dictate it."
So if you plan to be in the audience for Bromberg's show at the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center on Friday, you'd better bring your 'A' game -- because you can bet he will.
-- Reach entertainment editor Mel Barber at 854-1575, ext. 458, or email@example.com or follow @yorkweekend on Twitter.
Seeing the show
David Bromberg and his Big Band will perform an eclectic mix of blues, folk, rock and more at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center, 50 N. George St., York.
Waitin on a Train will open the show.
Tickets are $31-$41.
For more information, call 846-1111 or visit www.strandcapitol.org.
Listen to Bromberg's latest album, "Use Me," at his website, www.davidbromberg.org.