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Chuck Prophet

Chuck Prophet is a singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist who has created a handful of impressive solo albums when he isn't busy collaborating with some of the most respected figures in roots rock. A songwriter with a naturalistic sense of storytelling and drawing characters, and a melodic sense that brings together the impact of rock with the nuance of country, blues, and folk, Prophet has been releasing worthwhile solo albums since 1990, when he brought out his first solo LP, Brother Aldo. Prior to that, he was a key member of the rough-edged Paisley Underground band Green on Red, who had a small cult following in the United States and a significantly larger one overseas, and in between solo efforts, he worked as a sideman, collaborator, or producer for Alejandro Escovedo, Kelly Willis, Warren Zevon, Cake, Kim Richey, and many more. Among his solo releases, 1993's atmospheric Balinese Dancer, 1997's autobiographical Homemade Blood, 2004's Age of Miracles, and 2012's loving homage to San Francisco Temple Beautiful are highlights. Charles William Prophet was born in Whittier, California on June 28, 1963. Growing up, he lived in La Habra, midway between Orange County and Los Angeles, and got his first lessons in music from his older sister's record collection, which included classic albums from the Rolling Stones, Creedence Clearwater Revival, David Bowie, and the Beatles. He soon picked up a guitar, and developed favorites of his own, including Bob Dylan, Richard Thompson, and Jimi Hendrix. As a teenager, he played in local bands like Wild Game and Bad Attitude, and in 1984, he moved to San Francisco and joined the Paisley Underground band Green on Red in time to record their 1985 breakthrough Gas Food Lodging. In time, he would become the group's primary musician alongside founder and songwriter Dan Stuart, and he was an integral part of their lineup until 1992, when the group split up. By that time, Prophet had already launched a solo career, recording his first solo album, 1990's Brother Aldo, for $800 with a band that included keyboardist, vocalist, and collaborator in his road band, Stephanie Finch. After the release of Green on Red's 1992 album Too Much Fun, the group's breakup gave Prophet more time to work on his own music, and 1993's Balinese Dancer was steeped in blues and country sounds that moved beyond the borders of Green on Red's sound. Feast of Hearts followed in 1995, and Homemade Blood came out in 1997. By this time, Prophet had been popping up as a guest artist on releases by Bob Neuwirth (1996's Look Up), Jim Dickinson (1997's A Thousand Footprints in the Sand), and the Silos (1997's Long Green Boat), and he would also contribute to 1998's Awake by John Wesley Harding and 1998's Prolonging the Magic by Cake. Prophet co-wrote the song "If You Don't Mind" with Kim Ritchey for her 1999 LP Glimmer, and he lent his guitar work to Kelly Willis' What I Deserve and Penelope Houston's Tongue, both issued in 1999, and he would work with both artists numerous times in the future. He played guitar on Warren Zevon's Life'll Kill Ya in 2000; months later, Prophet brought out a solo album, The Hurting Business, as well as a live set, Homemade Boot: Live at Roskilde June 29, 1997. Prophet released No Other Love in 2002, and in 2004 he produced an album for vocalist Kim Carnes, Chasin' Wild Trains, while Heart covered his song "No Other Love" on the LP Jupiters Darling. 2004's The Age of Miracles was produced by Captain Beefheart and Pixies collaborator Eric Drew Feldman; the same year, Prophet delivered another informal live album, Turn the Pigeons Loose. 2005 and 2006 saw him joining Dan Stuart for a Green on Red reunion tour; Valley Fever: Live in Tucson 2005 documented one date from their run. In 2008, Prophet co-wrote and played guitar on Alejandro Escovedo's Real Animal; the two would also work together on 2010's Street Songs of Love and 2012's Big Station. In 2008, Prophet recorded Dreaming Waylon's Dream, in which he covered all the songs on Waylon Jennings' classic Dreaming My Dreams album; it was initially available only at Prophet's concerts. 2009's ¡Let Freedom Ring! was a politically oriented effort that focused on the human consequences of American inequality, and the following year he produced and played on Cry Tomorrow, a solo effort from Stephanie Finch. 2012's Temple Beautiful was a song cycle that presented both real and imagined histories of San Francisco, and 2014's Night Surfer included guest appearances from R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck and Tubes' drummer Prairie Prince. 2017's Bobby Fuller Died for Your Sins included songs that paid homage to David Bowie ("Bad Year for Rock and Roll") and Connie Britton ("If I Was Connie Britton"). 2020's The Land That Time Forgot balanced personal numbers about life and love with politically themed tunes examining America's past and present, recorded after the skyrocketing cost of living forced Prophet to leave San Francisco for upstate New York.
© Mark Deming /TiVo
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