Sunday, July 31, 2005

Somewhere off Hwy 61 - The Torso Tales - A Chuck Prophecy

One of my favorite loopy local SF characters, not to mention fine and friendly songsmith of no small renown, has been Chuck Prophet. I've known him on and off for years, from bullshitting in under the influence in the dark backrooms of bars & under the flourescence at the local copy shops, to riding rollercoasters both real and imagined... Uh, I guess you could say, what a long strange trip it's been...

As usual he has been busy playing gigs & tearing up the roads of our vast interstate highway system all year, and unless his Dodge van cut ya off at a filling station on the Pennsylvania might not have even noticed.

Chuck has been in the music biz for two decades now, including a notorious stint in the late great Green on Red, but in some respects, he kinda keeps a relatively low profile on the rock n roll radar. Your average Warped tour ready pop punk band with some forgettable name & even more forgettable songs can sell more t-shirts in a weekend than Chuck will do in a year, but Chuck ain't really in it for the merch. He's got more pop craftsmanship & hectic holy history in the tunes he carefully carves out than an army of skateboard punks & tour busses huddled in some parking lot.

He's a real rambling storytellin' troubadour from the mystical old school that never was and a perpetual stoner teenager making adult rock for the young at heart.

Why am I letting ya in on all this? Well , funny you should ask.

I'm not sure... but if ya have time to take yer itchy trigger finger off yer mouse & just scroll & sink in & suck up the story, it'll probably be worth yer while.

I'm digging deep into the archives of the land of the lost on the highway to heck here: but if yer patient , then all yer non- existent questions will be answered... so don't fret...

I'll start ya with an MP3 of Chuck singing "Pin A Rose On Me" from his most recent album Age of Miracles. Another fine download is a 10 meg windows media file of a half hour career overview and interview from a Dutch Radio broadcast that highlights Chuck discussing his music and features lots of music from the "No Other Love " album.
While yer getting yer download on, below is some writing that I spewed out after a little run I had rolling coast to coast in the van with the mighty Prophet on tour a couple years back... there's almost an album's worth of more Chuck Prophet tunes including some mighty rare gems culled from miscellaneous sources that ya could burn into a nice mix cd if'n yer so inclined, and most of 'em are even actually officially "authorized" in one way or another. The rest... well don't tell nobody and we'll all sleep just fine.

dateline: Early May, 2003 (somewhere off Hwy 61)

With a penchant for lurid off color 70s thrift store suits & striped shirts, and scruffy dirty blonde hair that juts aimlessly off the top of his head, he looks like a giant kindergarten escapee. Lanky isn't exactly the word to describe him, and apparently his fellow band members have dubbed him instead, "The Torso". His mid section does indeed, upon closer inspection, seem to sprout off his normal sized red Levi clad legs like some strange tree grafting experiment gone awry. Perhaps this genetic mutation occurred as a lad back in Orange County, where the chemically groomed citrus groves were making way for suburban sprawl. Raised in this former agricultural area turned white trash wasteland, he was a mischievous child of the smog, with a keen ear and a wandering eye for his sister's acoustic guitar.

"She got all pissed off when I could just pick it up and play it better than her."

After honing his chops copying Neil Young & the Byrds, and stylizing his approach after catching a few punk gigs like Black Flag and D.O.A, soon there was a teenage rebel with a guitar lurking in the halls at the local high school with an aptly fitting band name "Bad Attitude".

Kicked out of his parent's & eventually his girlfriend's pad for misbehavior, one night he showed up in L.A to beg a guest list spot for a show featuring an Arizona based touring band he'd previously shared a bill with. He ended up that night on stage and in the band. Hitching a ride with this unkempt crew of carnies, the youngest recruit actually started an almost decade long ride. In the process of discovering himself he instilled some semblance of songwriting anchorage to one of America's greatest unknown & under the influence quartets.

According to those that were there at the time, of all the pre-eminently unknown and now mostly forgotten 80s garage band hopefuls, Green On Red held as much promise as any in the lot. So begat the journey, that now has taken his flexible fingers and their sonic by products across the seas several times.

Chuck Prophet became the influential roots rawk band's 5th member just as the group hit their stride in 1984, with American underground rock in it's finest hour, and college radio in it's salad days. One of the definitive American indie rock road discs of the mid 80s era is Green on Red's "Gas Food & Lodging" from 1985. Prophet, with his instinctive knack for noodling brought the group a desirable dose of virtuosity missing from G.O.R's previous releases. Chuck's debut appearance with the band, garnered favorable mentions everywhere from Rolling Stone & USA Today on down to the corner bar.

The band began having bigger expectations than the college charts, they were on the road with R.E.M and they soon signed a major label contract. The teenage rapscallion known as "The Kid" was now got caught up in a rock n roll lifestyle, and spent his 21st birthday recording in an English castle , too high to realize it was 21st birthday., He recalls of those daze: " I learned how to drink laying down and how to sleep sitting up"

Green On Red

hear an mp3 of some of Green on Red's Zombie For Love - from 1988's "Here Come The Snakes" recorded in Memphis with Jim Dickinson, known for his work ranging from Big Star to the Rolling Stones and Aretha Franklin, at Ardent Studios. This classic album was recently reissued in an expanded 2 CD edition with great liner notes & bonus tracks of demos and outtakes recorded at home and Sun Studios, during the many evolutions of what has since become a quasi legendary rock masterpiece.
Green On RedHere Come The Snakes: Expanded Edition
Green On Red
Here Come The Snakes: Expanded Edition Import
(1989) Italian Version w William Eggleston cover & Full Length Bonus CD

CD on sale
CD on sale
Green on Red who began dissolving in a late 80's haze and finally called it quits for good in the early 90's are perhaps due for another lookee loo. Chuck has recently announced plans for a one off reunion show with the lineup from their heyday including not only Dan Stewart,but Chris Cacavas & Jack Waterson t.b.a in September in Tucson AZ at The Hotel Congress.

Green on Red on tour in Sweden circa 1984, Chuck 2nd from right

They burned through money, piles of drugs, record deals, band members & relationships. He stole other men's guitars & other men's girls, he escaped the cops, the lawyers, he escaped the near death experiences, the far death experiences... but he also eluded something that has since become more important to him. He also escaped success...

It's not that he's afraid of success, it's just that Chuck has set out to do it on his own terms, D.I.Y. He didn't "Go Hollywood" or set out to become a businessman, or a solo artist, but it all sorta happened along the way. Like everything else... There were happy accidents and there were just plain accidents...

Despite the slagging from the playa haters and sour grapes from the suckas on the sidelines, any one who really knows musician & songwriter Chuck Prophet can tell you he's no primadonna. The years spent honing his craft & spinning his wheels, while other guys & gals got their breaks, took their bows and had their names in the bright lights. It may have kept the man in hungry town, but he's also more appreciative than the one hit wonder crowd of when the dice roll in his favor.

Prophet was practically astounded when one of the tunes he co-wrote landed on the top of the country charts a couple years back and became a huge radio hit for a certain pre-fab Nashville honey child. Even though there's a gold record hanging on the wall at home with his name on it, he's never sung the song on an official release. You'd think he might capitalize on that bit of novelty & notoriety, but he hasn't even added the now well known tune to his live set. Despite the certain note of recognition the tune might bring when playing it for an audience of strangers in some small town, he'd rather not play it live at all, and prefers to earn applause the hard way.

He doesn't mind playing as a studio sideman, and has quietly given some fine performances to other's records. Top selling acts like Cake and Jewel have used Prophet as a sideman to fill out their sound. He's worked with some of the best in the business, including his own musical heroes, guys like Dan Penn, Al Kooper, Jim Dickinson, and Warren Zevon. However Prophet ain't a legend... yet... (mind you).

Chuck, with Green On Red having already used up their 15 minutes, and his multi-national music conglomerate ties seemingly evaporating quicker than you can say "Milli Vanilli", the 24 year old started doing the open mic circuit in San Francisco. "I thought I was outta the music business... I figured I had my shot. I still had some songs in me, I just needed a place to play 'em for my friends"

He lived in a wherehouse, & found refuge in a corner bar, with a backroom, a small stage, and an out of tune piano. Each night the seedy dive revealed a twisted talent search of semi-secret serendipity. Plus it didn't hurt that plenty of liquor & various unmentionables flowed to keep all the greats and near greats and the merely grating properly out of focus.

Within the now defunct Albion Bar, the pressure was off, and the creative spigot was on, as collaborations happened easily and plenty part-time party time players passed through. Poi Dog Pondering would play atop the pool table, Anti-Folk heroes like Ed's Redeeming Qualities, Lach & Ani DiFranco sold their homemade tapes, while performance artists, tap-dancing grandmas and arty ensemble jazz freaks played weekly in the corner. "Man, it later turned into a sports bar! but we made that place happen out of boredom! ...Housecoat Project, Penelope Houston, Steve Yerkey, Mark Eitzel, Barbara Manning, Bedlam Rovers, it was amazing looking back, a whole cast of misfits were going through there every weekend!"

Chuck started jamming with his best friend's girl, miss Stefanie Finch, and they made a simple demo together circa 1990. It became their first release "Brother Aldo" recorded for about $800, garnering them comparisons to Gram Parsons & Emmylou Harris. Soon their songwriting partnership spawned a love triangle, that was forever resolved when eventually Stef became his lover, then wife. One of the songs they mastered was Tune Of An Eveving, an mp3 download from a 1997 gig in Frankfurt. Here's another mp3 of Chuck & his wife Stef in duet doing the old traditional original gangsta folk song "Roving Gambler"

Steffie, who is want to roll her eyes at Prophet's more outrageous comments, will be the first to tell you he ain't a saint, and she has seen a few of Chuck's dark days gone by that would shock anyone's mother. But underneath it all, despite his factory sealed faults, she knows he's a generally good natured soul.

Together they put together more tunes for release for the "Balinese Dancer" CD but she left Chuck more or less to his own devices for 1995's Steve Berlin produced "Feast of Hearts".

Chuck's early solo discs, now hard to find, found audiences in Europe, but not much momentum stateside...

"Brother Aldo"1990 "Balinese Dancer"1993 "Feast Of Hearts"1995
"Brother Aldo "Balinese Dancer" "Feast Of Hearts"

Despite the best of intentions, the aforementioned records 1st released under the new Chuck Prophet brandname were poorly distributed fare, particularly in the U.S. There were some good tunes hidden within, but they weren't instant winners, and despite backers like Walter Yetnikoff, they generally got lost in the giant industry shuffle.

By the later 90s, edging closer to 40 than 14, his days of being called "the Kid" were behind him, and a lot of talented, but equally unsuccessful guys he'd run with over the years were simply being hung out to dry. They'd half retired, moved to the country or 'burbs, scored real jobs in sales & software services, had houses & kids, and been led to believe when you are not invited to the party, it's best to give up asking for an invitation...

Prophet kept churning out tunes, paying bands out of his pocket to keep the music flowing, and he still managed to get a record out every year or so. Not big fancy records, with instant industry clout, but low key affairs. Produced on the fly in a few days, with copious favors and friends used in lieu of big budgets. Many of these discs now are sadly out of print, especially here in the states, generally out of reach of the new fans that snatch up his current material at shows, clamoring for more.

Chuck admits he didn't take all the aspects of his own career seriously and put the pieces in place until "Homemade Blood" came out on Cooking Vinyl in 1997.

"Just Gimme Some Credit!" Chuck pleads determinedly from the first track on the album, and like the dirty Stones sounding guitar lick that kicks the album into gear, it's apparent he won't be taking no for an answer. It was a record whose guitar saturated songs emerged like a Phoenix after a personal slide, and whose music was a method out of the madness.

Download The Song Credit.mp3 from the "Homemade Blood" CD released on Cooking Vinyl

The previous album "Feast of Hearts" that he'd done with Steve Berlin of Los Lobos as producer, was somewhat of a let down, perhaps over produced, and generally restricted in flavor. Lyrically Prophet mined the heart of the urban core for the stories , and perhaps those stories got lost in the slick big city shine offered by Berlin.

In the end, the album had garnered a mere modicum of recognition, but "Homemade Blood" was way cheaper to make & truer to Prophet's more expressive nature. It was an album made after the boy turned man, cleaned up his act and retooled his touring machine. He used a tried and true live band on tried & true live material & the whole thing was recorded quickly. The boards were manned in S.F with Giant Sand producer Eric Westfall and later mixed in Boston by the reknowned tag team of Kolderie & Slade at Fort Apache. The album quickly garnered recognition in Europe and spent a few months on top of Rolling Stone Germany's critics poll.

With it's passionate and loose live sound, "Homemade Blood" is one hell of a record, and put Prophet's foot on the path to at least a fuzzy future. It signify's a moment when he truly left his previous personal demons behind. Prophet had, like the Apostle, put his past behind himself and risen out of nowhere to find an audience despite bad times, bad business deals, bad luck and bad blood.

Download an .mp3 to hear a live version of "22 Fillmore" recorded at The Starry Plough in Berkeley, a song whose studio version is even crisper on the Homemade Blood album ( on sale brand new for just $10 at the link).

When "Hurting Business" emerged in 1999 in Europe, it showed Prophet's continual growth as a songwriter, and his attempts to broaden his musical perspective. The album explored a variety of aural landscapes including 60's style farfisa, drum loops & other bits of hip hop style studio chicanery. It was his first disc in a few years to get licensed out right by a stateside label. The small blues centric label HighTone based in Oakland decided to take a shot at distributing it. The record was Chuck's most ambitious leap outside the box yet, and featured copious sampling & even some turntable work. Critics made comparisons to Beck's Odelay, and the album showed Chuck wasn't just an old fogey American Roots stalwart, and his guitar playing & songwriting were well matched to a wide array of richly layered and darkly painted sonic atmospheres.

Mark "Ill Media" Reitman was one of the contributors to the sonic collage work, and even did a quasi official remix of the title track, check out "Chuck Prophet - The Hurting Remix" unavailable except some very limited Europe & US tour only Promo EPs.

Perhaps unsure how to market it, Hightone mostly let the disc promote itself, and despite lack of a significant retail & radio push, "Hurting Business" still moved a few thousand units, and Prophet found himself with a smattering of new fans. Unfortunately when all was said & done, he felt support from HighTone was lacking. To this day he still is embittered that they reinforce his negative beliefs by charging him a higher wholesale price for his own CDs than if he imports them from elsewhere...

"It's gotten ridiculous, I tried to work some stuff out with them...offered to reimburse them back an extra dollar per unit at a time through my tour CD sales..." he says .

"But while I'm out tackling the road, trying not to starve the band & pushing the record they are sitting on, instead of my CD's they just send me bills & invoices... I found a foreign distributor elsewhere that will offer me a better deal on my own records...and they are even nicer on the phone...when I call I get a " Hey Chuck!... How Are You?" instead of, "Please Hold while we put you through to accounts receivable...I just said Fuck 'Em... I'll find somebody new..."

Despite his vast and potentially depressing knowledge of the penny pinching realities of the music industry, Chuck tries to keep the business from seeping into his music. He writes songs, and hopefully somewhere down the line... that song will make sense and mean something to the people that eventually hear them.

One man who heard the songs coming live & raw in a little Irish bar with a two foot high stage, and actually believed in them, was Peter Jesperson. Like Chuck, he's also got a past , as the dude who previously discovered & signed influential bands like The Replacements, Soul Asylum and even road managed R.E.M in their early days.

Now working A&R for New West records, Jesperson's done the previously unthinkable & backed Chuck for a long-term 7 album contract. So far, the hunch he had, has things going pretty well. The marriage is still new, but so far "No Other Love", Chuck's latest release was still building and garnering airplay after nearly a year in the racks.

Since the success of "No Other Love" and the single "Summertime Thing", Chuck was able to get onto PBS' "Austin City Limits" television show, and in late 2004, New West released Chuck's latest album " Age of Miracles ".

mp3 of the title track Age of Miracles

Hey like'll love video ! See a

promo quicktime video from the title track

Chuck keeps working, and cannot stand to simply stagnate through the vicious album cycles, of record, wait, tour, and wait some more though...So instead of past pursuits like parking cars or smoking crack, he does a lot of co-writing, sometimes with local San Francisco poets, more lately in Nashville, where he sits down with seasoned pros, and fresh faced unknowns batting around ideas that may or may nor make it onto records. Amongst his collaborators have included Kim Richey, John Wesley Harding and Kim Carnes.

Download West Memphis Moona song inspired by the trial of the West Memphis Three, whose trial was featured in the film "Paradise Lost". Chuck recently helped organize a benefit for their defense fund, that with the help of folks like Jello Biafra, Jonathan Richman & Tommy Larkins, Mark Kozelek and others raised almost $6000.

The Lexington Herald-Leader wrote of it: "West Memphis Moon that tells you all you need to know about how effortlessly the San Francisco songsmith blends story and style. The lyrics outline a murder mystery, the tale of a self-described "walking razor blade" detailed in misty shades of black and white. But the accompanying sounds couldn't be more colorful: hand claps, vintage keyboard orchestration and washes of wah-wah guitar. Suddenly the song's sense of fleeting menace is big enough to fill a movie screen."

Talented almost to a fault, he's still got a sense of childlike wonder in him. Filled with a kind of hopeful spirit, Prophet admits he's not the smartest guy in the world, and he's glad. He still gets joy from simple things, like a cup of coffee, or a piece of pie at a roadside diner, or a chance remembering of the lyrics to an old Foreigner or Betty Wright song he hasn't heard in years.

He still has an unquenchable thirst for hearing music, whether it's Jay Z or Jimmy Witherspoon, Kelley Stoltz or Kelly Willis, Prophet still buys new records everyweek, and he keeps hundreds of tunes at his fingertips on his laptop. While weaving down the highway, he dangerously balances cigarette, coffee cup holding and laptop manipulating, with his eyes casually darting back and forth to the road, to find exactly what he wants to hear within his hard drive. Equipped with a tiny earphone jack FM transmitter he broadcasts the tunes on his playlists into the car stereo, and keeps the lonely road party rocking...

On this particular day of tour, having made nary a dime yet, with at least a 1000 miles before the first gig, he walks into a local music store, and seeing no used guitars worth snatching up, buys a portable turntable on impulse. As they pack up his purchase, he gets the attentive staff to look at a problem he's had with a fret on his guitar. It's the same $150 Telecaster that he bought when he started with Green on Red in 1984. It does require a bit of tender loving care now & then though.

"I had some guy work on this guitar... you know he does all the big stars back in California... but it still doesn't sound right..." The old-timers gather, mumble, nod in agreement, and one pulls out a perfectly fitted file from a back room and within seconds, get it to sound right. Chuck is doubly pleased, he's got a new portable toy, and he got those good ol boys to work on his a bonus.

There's no doubt the guy is entitled to a simple moment of satisfaction, amidst all the dustdevils & mental static of the unrelenting asphalt ribbon still stretched before him.

"They wouldn't have done that if I didn't buy something..."

So what if the price of this small victory ended up being a plastic record player that cost as much as he originally paid for the guitar 19 years back.

As he pulls off I-10, There is no gig waiting in Tucson for Chuck, only a drumset at the home of Tommy Larkins. An ol' pal of Prophet's and one of Tucson's infamous desert rock rats, Larkins' is a fixture out west when not on the road. Formerly of Naked Prey, Giant Sand and even Green on Red for a spell, he is now most famous and enriched as Jonathon Richman's minimalist drumming sidekick (as seen by millions on the silver screen in "Something About Mary" and at over 500 tour shows ...)

Tommy has a two story cinderblock studio/ workspace at the end of a dusty desert lane, that Chuck navigates the van towards by the light of a full moon. Upon arrival a thin half coyote / half mutt stalks nearby in the shadows, scared and curious at the same time, quickly scampering behind a tall saguaro cacti when spotted. Inside after packing the gear, despite Larkin's wishes to jam, talk story and share a few moments of musical camaraderie, Chuck is pressed for time. As much as he'd like to kick back and reflect on the commonalities & friends shared by these long acquainted musical road dogs, Chuck has too little time to spin yarns. He doesn't own a humble concrete castle at the end of any lane, and he won't be swigging any of that half empty bottle of Tequila sitting by the fax machine, and he still has to stop by his manager's.

It would of course make sense that Chuck, being somewhat of show business outsider, would have management that hardly fits the un-Holy Trinity of Hollywood/ New York / Nashville music industry mold. Having dealt with showbiz for awhile, and the shysters and fast talkers, Prophet has slowly been building his operation for comfort, not speed. Chuck's current manager isn't spotted entertaining clients with show girls at the Deja Vu strip clubs, he instead hits the cafeteria down the hall. A quiet unassuming Christian family man, Dan works in Tucson as a math teacher with under privileged and troubled youth, his desk has no pile of cocaine, but that of test papers to be corrected on it. He keeps in touch with Chuck via cellphone & email, his wife occasionally making a handwritten notation in the margins of the tour itinerary.

After picking up some additional European work documents, Chuck is escorted by an orange vested security guard back down the school's hall and out the door of the Project M.O.R.E campus and he's soon hurtling back down the highway across the continental divide.

Hundreds of thankless miles pass beneath the well worn wheels of the Dodge Caravan, while Chuck listens to hours and hours of recent rehearsal tapes. He fills the time with frequent verbal notations made into a portable cassette deck. Dozens of personal audio notes are made regarding timing, breaks, solos and mistakes that haunt his appreciation of the current set list. He is doing his homework and can leave nary a second of a set to error, and will waste not another minute getting to Austin in time to meet his band. His cell phone is out of range, his mind somewhere else, the road straight, hot and never ending. Somehow he'll work out all his thoughts, while somewhere else his onstage sidekicks have all copped the easy duty of boarding convenient Southwest Air flights with carry on luggage ...

Emerging from "the communications black hole of the road", as he terms it, he stops by the New West label offices in the heat of a Wednesday afternoon to pick up a few more CDs for the tour. He finds the label air conditioned & friendly, but unprepared to offer up any more assitance, except the last stray box of CD's in back and a few promo posters. Chuck notices that artist Tim Easton got promo matchbooks printed up with his name on 'em, John Hiatt has glossy folded point of purchase displays being sent out, while Prophet gets relegated a tube of dusty promo posters from the backroom. He shrugs and plugs in his laptop to check his email, and finds over 30 messages have been sent his way over the last few days of road dogging. Meanwhile a green around the ears record company hand leans over his desk to quietly tell an aside to another employee, "man, when he talks, his voice... it sounds just like "No Other Love"...

Download Storm Across The Sea from the No Other Love CD

With still a bit more time before the flights are due, Chuck peruses the Waterloo music store selections in Austin at 6th & Lamar...grabbing a copy of the Roots first album, he reorganizes the equipment a little better to make room for the coming musicians, throws away a pair of road weary socks and fetches yet another cup of coffee at the Whole Foods Store across the street.

Coffee and Cigarettes are practically his only vices these days, cable tv & copious soda pop consumption coming in a distant third & forth. In line at the store, he runs into local singer songwriter Troy Campbell, formerly of Loose Diamonds, another songwriter that has come back from the edge of self destruction. After catching up with Chuck, Troy offers to help a now severely caffeinated Prophet find his missing keys, which after some frantic research are now apparently being held at the customer service desk.

After a lil' jaywalking & tales of Austin sidemen with names like Cornfed & Bacon Bit, Troy sweetly offers up a prize, the new David Cross dbl CD. A Two disc blast of blisteringly funny & caustic observations on the state of America today. Cross, a wicked whining southern boy who doesn't much like flag waving, S.U.V drivers and pontificating pedophile preachers, is a jaded but welcome break to listen to after countless hours of rehearsal tapes.

After picking up the band at the airport, The first gig of the tour is up Highway 61, at a unique spot in St.Francisville Louisiana, called the Magnolia Cafe. Profiled in the latest No Depression mag, the band were welcomed with warm southern hospitality by the proprietors.

The town is sleepy rural outpost, where a chalkboard & small index card sized sign next to the cash register is about all that promotes the gig, telling patrons "Chuck Prophet is the Magnolia Cafe Staff's favorite entertainer, don't miss this show".

Indeed a career calculating entertainer might have a conniption fit finding such slack advertising techniques at work. However here, in a bayou backwater town, after a long haul across the endless deserts of California, Arizona & New Mexico, and the relentless toil of Texas, Chuck is relieved to find a quiet comfortable oasis just north of Baton Rouge. He drove over 2222 miles to open his tour here tonight, and everything is perfect, from the small PA to the tall glasses of unsweetened ice tea, and properly configured portions of southern food.

A comfortingly concocted blend of Cajun & American favorites, the menu reflects the preferences of a small town where nearly everyone in town is a regular. Pizzas and Po Boys are of course available. The night of the show, everyone in the band orders "the special" and are blessed with a hefty portion of blackened Drumfish served atop angelhair pasta, topped with a rich creamy red sauce containing crawdads, hunks of fresh crabmeat and a sumptuous blend of spicy sumpin' else. After soundcheck everyone is bloated and retires to the quaint B&B cottages behind the cafe to rest up for the main event.

...that night after the sun goes down, a small but hearty crowd fueled by Abita Amber and other local libations, revel as the band goes into action testing out two sets , new material upfront, then the dusting off of old faves. It all ends with a bang to a sloppy juke joint rendition of the KC & The Sunshine band classic "Boogie Shoes". The band are truly grateful to the proprietors Kevin & Robin for making this special secret sauce spot way out in the country.

Prophet & crew heartily endorse The Magnolia Cafe if yer in the region. They don't book a lot of shows, just some really down home good ones and other recent guests there have played recently include Alejandro Escovedo, Dave Alvin, Billy Joe Shaver, The Sadies & more...

Check out Automatic Blues from the Age of Miracles CD.
Chuck Prophet

After hauling butt down the highway from the bayou country, the band hit Tampa for "The Tropical Heatwave " ( ). This huge outdoor & indoor club & street festival gets bigger each year and is hosted by community run radio station WMNF... First the band did a few tunes acoustically in the studio on air, the rhythm section sneaking off to fetch a few Cuban sandwiches in the lobby. Then at nightfall they made it to Ybor City, the old cigar rollin' district, where their outdoor stage awaited. Chuck's "No Other Love" disc was the #1 record on that station locally last year and a big crowd rocked out well past midnight as the band played an hour + set. Also on the bill in Tampa were Australia's Waif's , fresh from opening for Dylan, as well as various local hip hop acts, and southern rock faves like Paul Thorn, and Austin's hickbilly blue grass geeks The Gourds who had dubious closing set duties.

Here's a real video of The Mission Express in Europe performing I Bow Down & Pray To Every Woman I See, a hit tune off the No Other Love album. Here's a link to get the Mp3 available for free from

The Mission Express retired to catch a night's rest with "no surprises" at the local Holiday Inn, vetoed an all day run over to see drummer Winston's old boss, Bob Dylan down in Palm Beach and headed to Rob's mom's pad in Atlanta.

As the multi-hour drive commenced, Chuck was confronted with the fact that almost a week later, he still hasn't bought any records for his portable turntable, but he just shrugs and ads..."I'd wanted one for awhile and they were sold out on Haight St in S.F".

He won't be back on Haight St for awhile, with tour stops everywhere from Greenville, South Carolina to the UK & points beyond awaiting, and even a date in Vegas with Heart who've started covering his song "No Other Love". It all sounds good, but if only there were a few more down home spots like the Magnolia Cafe on the itinerary.

stay tuned... More info, tunes and whatnot about Chuck & The Mighty Mission Express will be headed your way soon...

Here are his remaining US summer tour dates confirmed as of July 29th

Thu 08/11/05 Somerville, MA Johnny D's

Fri 08/12/05 Ellsworth, ME Grand Auditorium

Sat 08/13/05 Great Barrington, MA Club Helsinki

Sun 08/14/05 Northampton, MA Iron Horse Music Hall

Mon 08/15/05 Fall River, MA Narrows Center For The Arts

Wed 08/17/05 New York, NY Seaport Music Festival

Thu 08/18/05 Philadelphia, PA World Cafe Live

Fri 08/19/05 Baltimore, MD Funk Box

Sat 08/20/05 Charlottesville, VA Gravity Lounge

Sun 08/21/05 Raleigh, NC The Pour House Music Hall

Mon 08/22/05 Louisville, KY Phoenix Hill Tavern

Wed 08/24/05 Chicago, IL Schubas

Thu 08/25/05 Oshkosh, WI Waterfest

Fri 08/26/05 Saint Paul, MN Turf Club

Sun 09/04/05 Tucson, AZ Club Congress

Thu 09/08/05 Newport, KY Southgate House

Fri 09/09/05 Lexington, KY The Dame

Sat 09/10/05 Bowling Green, OH Black Swamp Art Festival

Sun 09/11/05 Lafayette, IN Lafayette Brewing Company

Fri 09/16/05 Austin, TX Continental Club

check Pollstar for more additional dates T.B.A

( this piece first appeared in 2003 at where lots more info, hub bub, links, reviews & articles can be found...)

Check out a pretty thorough Green on Red discography, with cross links and info on Chuck info & other Americana & Tucson area artists. Another site of note on Green on Red and other Americana style groups is

Chuck's longtime bassist Rob Douglas recently put together a CD tribute to songwriter Joe South that features Chuck doing "Don't It Make You Want To Go Home", as well as Kelly Stoltz doing "I Never Promised You A Rose Garden", the great Otis Clay "Walk A Mile In My Shoes", Chris Von Sneidern "Hush" , Kelly Hogan , and several others . Check it out if ya like great American music performed with modern flair yet a solid respect for the past.


Ekko said...

Great Post! I have a boot of Chuck with Ryan Adams, live, if you're interested gimme a holler.

Craig said...

i love some of the stuff chuck's done his at times odd mix of electronic sounds with americana music was striking to me

thatnks for the songs

m said...

hey thanx to chuick for the magical music & thanx to y'all for the comments kids. glad to know someone is alive out there, and yer blogs ( berkeleyplace & songs:illinois )have been keepin' me entertained and intertwined within da fine fine music fo' many moons fo' shizzle...

paul h. said...

great story - I have been a long standing fan of Chuck - from his Green on Red days up to now - i see/hear the Green on Red reunion went down a storm and was filmed - anyone heard any news on a dvd release, or a live cd ?? - I have got a fair few traded live gigs if anyone wants to trade some more - just email me......papa