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Studio for work, bluegrass for fun: The Brombies

Local session ace helps anchor the Brombies when he's not recording.

September 27, 2013|By Jonny Whiteside
  • The Brombies perform every Monday at Viva Cantina in Burbank.
The Brombies perform every Monday at Viva Cantina in Burbank. (Courtesy of The…)

When local bluegrass band the Brombies gets to work, it always feels more like a family reunion than a professional musical performance. Now in their fourth year of an every-Monday residency at Burbank's Viva Cantina, their fast-moving style, far-ranging repertoire and incandescent, spontaneous soloing underscore the fact that these are some of the most tenured and talented musicians in Southern California.

But band leader George Doering's day job is not quite what one may expect from a humble bluegrass picker.

Earlier, Doering spent the day on set with Clint Eastwood, performing live accompaniment to the singing cast members of “Jersey Boys,” Eastwood's latest feature and first stab in the musical genre. And while the Brombies rarely miss a Monday night, last year the band took a six-week hiatus while Doering was in London's Abbey Road studio throwing down the iconic 007 guitar theme for the “Skyfall” soundtrack.

“I'd never been to London before and it was just a fantastic experience,” Doering said. “But I must say that playing the James Bond riff did feel a little weird.”

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The self-effacing multi-instrumentalist is one of Hollywood's best traveled, go-to soundtrack session players, with a 30-year-plus resume that goes back to 1977 when he appeared on camera backing up Liza Minnelli in Martin Scorsese's “New York New York.”

Doering works primarily as a guitarist but he's also contributed mandola, sitar, bouzouki, dulcimer, saxophone and percussion to more than 800 film and television projects. With command of such a wide array of instruments, he quickly became an in-demand force among those who oversee the scores and soundtracks in Hollywood.

“Often when I first show up at the studio they aren't exactly sure what they want yet,” he said. “And since I play so many different instruments, I just start pulling things out of their cases, see where that takes us until they [say] ‘Oh yes, that's perfect.' And a lot of these people are the same ones I've worked with for years, so I have been very lucky.”

With the strictly-for-pleasure Brombies, he plays mandolin. “Acoustic stuff is so much fun,” he said. “You don't need anything, microphones, a PA or those pesky drums! And the harmony singing is something else I really enjoy, and doing it with Jo Ellen makes it that much better.”

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