Chuck Prophet has been a regular feature of the live scene in the UK for over 30 years and although I have seen him several times, each of those time is joyous celebration of the uplifting power of shit kicking live music wherein your experience is handled by a master MC who appears to live for every moment of the gig as personally as you do. Never a duff gig with Chuck, Stephanie and the boys! Recent news of the cancelled European jaunt this summer as Chuck battles his Lymphoma diagnosis was deeply upsetting and the outpouring of love and well wishing was both heartening and wholly expected. He is a musician who radiates benevolence and a sense of all of us being in this together. Memories of the various small venues range from a tiny room in a pub in Bedford (Jason Isbell also seen there! East/West promotions at the top of their game) to a sweaty Bullingdon in Oxford with various other solo or Green on Red gigs scattered over the years.
He is the master of the Telecaster, I kid you not – effortless playing coupled with biting lyrical wit and social observation, tunes that bounce with splashes of melancholy and a killer band The Mission Express (named after the bus route in San Francisco) featuring his wife Stephanie Finch on keys and vocals and occasional guitar, Kevin White on bass, James DePrato on guitars and Vincente Rodriguez on drums.
The perfect example of his craft is the ‘Panic on the Temple Tour’ album that accompanied his gigs promoting the album Temple Beautiful tour. If you can find a copy, grab it; it is an indisputable document of the power of this artist, from the drawled love song ‘Would You Love Me’ to the audience singalong ‘You Did’ – all glorious! If you don’t know Chuck I urge investigation as we all wait for his glorious return to a small venue near you. Get well soon Chuck, the world needs you playing, now more than ever.
A couple of these videos are live recordings as they give the best insight into what a riot his gigs are so excuse the sound quality: