David Baerwald plays a rare local gig at McCabe’s

David Baerwald is never less than interesting

David & David’s 1986 album “Boomtown” was slick, dark, and sharply written — a musical arbiter of its political time that was eventually certified gold, thanks in part to two tracks, “Welcome to the Boomtown” and “Ain’t So Easy,” that made respectable showings on Billboard charts.
The songs, mostly written by guitarist David Baerwald, have aged well, and the album’s mystique is enhanced by the fact that it’s the only one Baerwald and keyboardist David Ricketts have made as a duo. (Both were also, somewhat infamously, part of the Tuesday Night Music Club, the casual songwriting collective that gave Sheryl Crow’s 1993 debut its name and compositional muscle.) Excitement rippled through a certain ’80s-loving demographic last year when a David + David Facebook page appeared, promising a single to be mixed by Bill Bottrell.
Post-“Boomtown,” Baerwald went solo with his 1990 “Boomtown”-lite collection “Bedtime Stories” and 1992’s edgier “Triage,” whose cover art depicts bloody hands above an American flag. As with “Boomtown,” he sketched out hard-luck characters with flinty, nonjudgmental details, stormy guitars and appealingly cracked vocals. 1999’s “A Fine Mess” and 2002’s “Here Comes the New Folk Underground” followed, garnering critical praise and modest sales. Since then he’s focused on raising his son while composing for film and TV and other artists. Last year’s “Hellbound Train” was a download-only EP sporting brooding covers of traditionals like “Wayfaring Stranger” and the murder ballad “Omie Wise.”
Baerwald’s recorded output reflects music business realities more than his prolific creativity. Quick-witted and politically astute, with lean melodies and a novelist’s command of incisive, punchy language, he is never less than interesting. Local gigs are rare, so fans are advised to queue up at McCabe’s
on Friday.

— Bliss Bowen

David Baerwald headlines and Sarah Kramer opens an 8 p.m. Friday (Aug. 4) show at McCabe’s Guitar Shop, 3101 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica. $25. Call (310) 828-4497 or visit mccabes.com.