Saturday, April 27, 2013

Bob Brozman - National Steel Guitars

Santa Cruz, California native Bob Brozman passed away at his home this past April 24th. He was only 59 years old.
Perhaps some readers may not be familiar with Brozman as his style of playing guitar was very eclectic.

Much like Richie Havens, Brozman interests lie in Folk Music. However in his case the type of folk music he performed and studied included Gypsy, Jazz, Calypso, Blues, Ragtime, Hawaiian and Caribbean music. 
Brozman collaborated with musicians from Africa, India, Japan, New Guinea, Trinidad, and other islands.
In addition to performing, his studies in ethnomusicology led him to an adjunct professorship at the Department of Contemporary Music Studies at Macquarie University in Sydney Austrailia.
Brozman was a fount of knowledge when it came to American music of the 20th Century.
He recorded numerous albums, books and video tutorials. He was a three time winner of the Guitar Player Magazine Readers Poll.  Brozman kept up a steady world wide tour schedule and founded guitar seminars. 

His tours were remarkable. He was very recognizable from his dark hair and dark beard. Bob Brozman generally performed solo with several of his silver plated National guitars , his National ukulele, and a Bear Creek lap steel.
However there were times when Bob would play with a group of musicians that did not speak any other common language except music.

Brozman is best known for his use of National resonator instruments from the 1920’s and 1930’s. He also used a Weissenborn hollow neck acoustic as a lap steel and a baritone version of a National Tri-cone resonator guitar and a National resonator concert ukulele.  

He was not only the worlds preeminent  authority on National steel string resonator instruments, Bob was an amazing instrumentalist.
Brozman developed a love for world music as a boy, listening to Calypso songs from Trinidad and the traditional music of Hawaii that he acquired on 78 rpm recordings. 

His field of undergraduate study was ethnomusicology at Washington University of St. Louis. During his college years he would trek through the southern United States to learn jazz and blues from musicians that were playing in the 1920’s and 1930’s.
During these days he learned how to play slide guitar, using a home-made slide that was actually the neck of a wine bottle.

As a music anthropologist Bob was very interested in what happens musically with the guitar when it is left behind in a country and culture that knew nothing about the guitar.

In an NPR interview that was done 10 years ago, he told radio journalist Marco Werman, “I made it into this book called ‘1000 Great Guitarists of All Time,’ the little paragraph under my names says, ‘Brozman will never be well known because he plays too many kinds of music.”

Brozman was a contributor to several guitar publications and did instructional videos for Happy Truam’s Homespun Tapes. Bob Brozman was also associated with and endorsed Bear Creek Guitars. Bear Creek makes accurate and extremely well made reproductions of Weissenborn style hollow body lap steel guitars as well as steel string guitars and ukuleles.

Bob Brozman may have been better known throughout other parts of the world than in the United States.

Brozman was one of a kind. (March 8, 1954 - April 24, 2013)


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Jerome Engelberts said...

I met Bob Brozman several times when I still lived in the San Francisco Bay Area. A fine guitarist and historian, although not always the easiest person to have a conversation about music with. Nevertheless, he will be missed.

Jerome Engelberts said...
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