November 21, 2013
According to Prophet:
We’re playing the Temple Beautiful album in sequence with an octet. For folks like me who weren’t exactly in school band, Temple producer Brad Jones informs me that a good shorthand reference for an octet is Eleanor Rigby. Basically an 8-piece string section.
At one point, we were thinking of doing a musical. Like with costumes and a real production. Imagine the players decked out as the characters? Pre-steroid era hero Willie Mays, martyr for gay rights Mayor Harvey Milk, Laffing Sal, Jim Jones, Carol Doda, Emperor Norton… and more. But you know, that started to look a little daunting. And we didn’t want our grandiosity to turn on us. Again. So we settled for a string section. It’ll still be plenty epic, trust me.
Chuck Prophet, Kelley Stoltz
Great American Music Hall
November 24, 2013
May 31, 2013
Photo: Amoreena Berg
Oakland’s John Murry, who just wrapped up a European tour, will be playing Great American Music Hall with Chuck Prophet Friday night. Before Murry left for Europe, he released a great video for “Southern Sky” off his The Graceless Age album, which has continued to receive a lot of positive press and attention. I got in touch with him hoping for some quick comments on the symbolism in the video and the show, and ended up having two separate conversations that totaled well over an hour. The Wall Street Journal described Murry as a “marathon conversationalist”, but I don’t think that’s accurate, because you can prepare for a marathon. A conversation with Murry takes you all over the map – he got philosophical about the Oakland A’s uniforms, told me he is glad Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis was dead, informed me that “there is nothing that exists but death,” and was practically interviewing me most of the time. And that was just from the shorter phone call. Needless to say, a conversation with Murry is a lot of fun if you’ve got the time for it.
Eventually, I was sort of able to steer the conversation to the video for “Southern Sky”. Murry teamed up with Memphis filmmaker John Michael McCarthy, some Memphis pinup models, and a giant rooster in Murry’s hometown of Tupelo, Mississippi to record the video. Knowing what I’ve learned about him over the last couple of months (such as the fact that he’s a practicing Catholic and avid reader), I imagined there was a great deal of symbolism involved. Murry was pretty vague about specific references, but there are definite symbols related to man’s fear of death and feelings of lust and materialism. That being said, Murry says he’s still discovering meaning in McCarthy’s work. “I don’t know that I’ll ever entirely understand his reading of that song, but I do know that it’s real for him,” says Murry. “That’s why so many of those symbols and images do make sense to me. I don’t feel comfortable with it all the time, but it feels real, it feels right.” He also philosophized about videos and interviews in general adding, “It’s all an exchange, and hopefully something that furthers whatever art there is within that song, or whatever it is that’s being discussed.”
Murry’s appearance tonight with Chuck Prophet is special in a couple of ways. He calls Chuck a “best friend,” and Murry once played guitar in Chuck’s band. Chuck’s outstanding Dreaming Waylon’s Dreams album was released on Murry’s Evangeline Recordings, and Murry played on and wrote the story behind the album on Chuck’s blog. (Unfortunately, Murry tells me the story is mostly made up, although they really did record the album in two days.)
Not only that, Murry tells me his first Bay Area job was as a dishwasher in the Great American kitchen. “I’ve watched shows there, I know how things sound best, like where drums oughta be set up best,” says Murry. “I’m really fucking excited to play it, because I do think it’s an amazing sounding venue.” It’s really an adorable story, and talking about it made the often hard-edged Murry a little sentimental. “I’m really, really, really, honestly grateful…for the chance to do something that I don’t deserve the chance to do, and that doesn’t just go for the show, but that goes for everything now.”
See the video for Southern Sky below, followed by the Great American show details.
Chuck Prophet, John Murry
Great American Music Hall
May 31, 2013
11th Annual Sleepless Nights: A Tribute to Gram Parsons & Cosmic American Music at Great American, 1/12/2012
January 9, 2013
Sleepless Nights headliner Red Meat
A long list of Bay area artists will honor Gram Parsons Saturday at the Great American Music Hall for the “11th Annual Sleepless Nights: A Tribute to Gram Parsons & Cosmic American Music”. Event organizer and member of Sweet Chariot Eric Shea explains what “cosmic American music” meant to Parsons. “Music writers wanted to call him country-rock, but he pushed back and challenged them to listen more closely so they can hear the soul, gospel, Americana, blues and rock that all blended together into one grand sound,” says Shea. “Cosmic American music was his vision of a musical melting pot anchored to the intimacy of front porch hymns, filtered through a kaleidoscopic mangle and played through the heart. All the bands playing this year’s Sleepless Nights do well to exemplify this vision of sound.”
The variety of acts really highlights the breadth of Parsons’ influence on today’s music. Headliner Red Meat plays mostly traditional honky-tonk music in addition to backing the legendary Wanda Jackson when she’s on the West Coast. Grahame Lesh tends to stay on the folk side of things, while no one can pin a genre on Chuck Prophet, who will be performing with his wife Stephanie Finch. Although some of the event’s performers may lean toward one genre or another, none of them fall into a genre pigeonhole Parsons avoided, which should make for a great night of music. Below, you can check out Red Meat playing “Streets of Baltimore”, which was famously covered by Parsons.
11th Annual Sleepless Nights: A Tribute to Gram Parsons & Cosmic American Music
feat. Red Meat, Chuck Prophet & Stephanie Finch, Sweet Chariot, Tarnation, Gypsy Moonlight Band, Deep Ellum, and Grahame Lesh
Great American Music Hall
January 12, 2013
September 19, 2012
By its twelfth year, you’d be forgiven for taking the annual occurence of the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival for granted. The passing of founder Warren Hellman in December, however, brought with it a reminder that tens of thousands of people didn’t always flock to Golden Gate Park for three free days of music each fall. In fact, when one takes all of those elements — the large crowds, the no-cost attendance, the numerous off-the-dial performers — into consideration, the festival’s continued vitality seems less inevitable and far more astonishing.
True to its name, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 12 includes artists from a range of genres, pulling together an eclectic mix of legends (Elvis Costello, Steve Earle, Robyn Hitchcock, and Nick Lowe among them) and buzz bands (The Lumineers, The Head and the Heart, The Civil Wars), with some locals (Chuck Prophet, Tiny Television) and compelling weirdos (Dirty Three, Giant Giant Sand) thrown in for good measure. If not every artist at HSB 12 is an indie rock fan’s cup of tea, this mixtape makes the case that you would be plenty satisfied attending the festival even if you couldn’t tell the difference between old-time music and neotraditional country.
June 20, 2012
Words by Ben Van Houten
When it was pitched, this episode was known informally as an “underrated bands” mix, a label that seems as unworkable as it feels insulting. In an age of increasing access to an perpetually growing volume of music, and a culture that focuses on always keeping an eye out for the next big thing, the idea that any band could hold any attention long enough to be over-/under-/rated at all seems unlikely. Forget ratings and rankings: just remembering what you like can be a challenge enough while being constantly bombarded with new music.
With that in mind, as we approach 2012′s halfway point, here’s a mix collecting eleven bands, some local, some not, that have all released interesting albums this year. These records may have slipped past you when they first came out — and include some that we haven’t written about much or at all — but they’re some of the recent works that continue to stick with me even as new sounds stream forward every day. These days, that’s no small feat.
About the bands:
May 24, 2012
(((FolkYEAH!))) and CinemaSF are set to inaugurate a series of events called City Scenes, a block of movie-screenings-slash-mini-concerts that begin on May 31st at Presidio Heights’ Vogue Theater. (((FolkYEAH!))) has asked local artists to choose their favorite film set in or revolving around San Francisco, each to be shown in conjunction with a concert from the selecting artist.
CityScenes’ first installment will take place on May 31st with Vetiver presenting Foul Play, a 1978 comedy starring Goldie Hawn and Chevy Chase. Chuck Prophet follows on Friday with Coppola’s The Conversation.
CityScenes Installments 1&2: Vetiver and Chuck Prophet
May 31st/June 1st, 2012
Review & Photos: Chuck Prophet & The Mission Express, Roy Loney and the Phantom Movers @ Great American Music Hall, 3/30/12
April 2, 2012
Generations of homegrown legendry teamed up at the GAMH Friday night to show young and old (and quite old) alike how roots rock is served. Alt-country hero Chuck Prophet, who emerged in the 80′s with Green on Red and has never let up, and Roy Loney, former front man for 70′s power pop progenitors The Flamin Groovies, brought their respective ace backups, The Mission Express and The Phantom Movers by for the show.
Loney blasted his way onstage, brandishing his lifelong insistence that roots rock is not a novelty. He hasn’t lost his mastery of the “goofy monster” punk persona and the fidelity to grinding, two-chord or 12-bar blues structures that had such an influence on label mates The Ramones, just for starters.
As a rock lifer, Loney also clearly understood how to make the best of a big crowd and venue. He and the Movers kept the pace tight and the energy high. The salt-and-pepper crowd, along with a smattering of the beard and horn rims set, were convinced. If you can rock the house, it doesn’t matter how clever your compositions or sound textures are. And if you can’t rock the house, it matters even less.
March 29, 2012
Now is the moment to catch up with Chuck Prophet, who graduated from lead guitar in 80s garage country band Green on Red (check out their album Gas Food Lodging – coulda been recorded today!) to roam, over a dozen-fold albums and more, through roots, swamp rock, alt-hop and just about whatever else you could imagine, all the while getting his material covered by Heart, Kelley Willlis, and Boz Scaggs, to name a few.
His current sound, which takes its rocking cues from vintage 70s power pop, is featured on Temple Beautiful, released in January (preview the entire album on SoundCloud). This is a performer with nigh on three decades of live performance under his belt, so you know he will be bringing it to Great American Music Hall Friday night (9pm, $18). Don’t take your local legends for granted.
We have a pair of tickets to give away for Friday’s show! Email email@example.com – the THIRD person to email will be the winner!