David Champagne has been a guiding light of the Boston area music scene for 30 years. His immaculate blues-punk guitar playing and prolific lyricism was conceived out of rolling loose leaf cigarettes with pages from Leviticus in the alley behind the Stillwater, Oklahoma parochial school.
In 1985, David Champagne founded the band Treat Her Right, described by Rolling Stone in a four-star review as “minimalist blues/punk.” Treat Her Right influenced the Pixies and Morphine, and paved the way for The White Stripes and The Black Keys and those group’s numerous progeny. Champagne’s next act, The Jazz Popes, was more extreme; a trio with electric guitar, trumpet and upright bass. This turned out not to be what people were waiting for.
After taking a decade off to start a family, Champagne joined neo-Louvin Brothers act The Heygoods as songwriter and guitarist — despite being thoroughly sick of the promotionally conceived genre of “Americana.” The band was fronted by his wife.
In 2014, David released to wide acclaim Agnostic Gospel, loosely connected songs that could form the soundtrack for a musical on spiritual crises. The project, which had been in gestation for many years, featured an all-star cast of lead vocalists including Robin Lane, Kris Delmhorst and others. Several of the songs have since seeped their way into memorial services and mental health blogs.
The spring of 2019 will see the release of Bad Choices Make Good Stories, a darker more existential followup to the first Agnostic Gospel. Produced by Champagne with Paul Kolderie, Alec Spiegelman and Dietrich Strause, it ratchets up the social commentary, musical energy and volume.