by Jim Ridley
Where: Bluebird Cafe
When: 9 p.m. Wed., Feb. 2
The funniest thing in Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story was relegated to the soundtrack: “Dear Mr. President,” an acid-blooded send-up of narcissistic protest-song pretension (“Dear Mr. President / I’m smarter than you …”). Even though Dan Bern wrote it (with his writing partner Mike Viola), it’s exactly the kind of protest song he doesn’t write. When he writes a protest song, it’s typically along the lines of the quietly devastating “God Said No,” a skewering of 20/20 hindsight that challenges dithering do-gooders to act in the moment, not daydream about what they could have done when time has removed the chance.
Bern (who also contributed songs to last year’s Get Him to the Greek) may be the closest the world has produced to another John Prine in his mix of corrosive social commentary and belly laughs. As his two live albums in a year’s time attest, he’s a must-see with a rowdily engaged audience. Adam James opens.