Chuck Prophet | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Chuck Prophet 

CHUCK PROPHET

When this indie-rock veteran played Schubas in July, I wrote a Critic's Choice for his opening act, Columbia Records discovery Paddy Casey, speculating that the newcomer might give Prophet "a run for [his] money." I have no idea whether either of them read it, but after Casey finished his workmanlike set--and the packed room emptied out considerably--Prophet and his combo delivered one of the most galvanic shows I'd seen in months. The leader (once a guiding light in the proto-alt-country band Green on Red) wrung muscular, R & B-tinged solos from his Fender and snarled the bitter lyrics to his latest crop of tunes, The Hurting Business (Hightone). On "Diamond Jim," about a back-alley messiah overdue for a second coming, he sang, "The mannequin takes off her clothes / The clowns are laughing at your nose / The weatherman he is the news / And Dick Clark's got the Tombstone Blues." The grooving title song best displayed his chemistry with longtime backup vocalist and keyboardist Stephanie Finch, with its punch-drunk endearments, seductive Farfisa hook, and arrogant seventh chords all building to an ominous chorus: "Business is good, business is good, business is good / In the hurting business." By the end of the set, Prophet and company had squeezed some of my hot air out of Casey's balloon; for the folks who'd stuck around, it was a show-business payback straight out of The Jolson Story. The Hangdogs and Little Grizzly open this show; I haven't heard them, but I'll bet they give Prophet a run for his money. Thursday, March 29, 9 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport; 773-525-2508.

J.R. JONES

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/George Westcot.

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