If you ever want to take an insider’s tour of San Francisco without leaving home, hop on the Mission Express and let Chuck Prophet be your guide. His latest record, Temple Beautiful, is named after one of the city’s rock clubs, and features a cast of characters best illustrated by Prophet’s live performance.
Backed by bandmates James dePrato, Kevin White, Kyle Caprista, and wife Stephanie Finch–Chuck tells the stories of San Francisco that you won’t find in history books. With a ringmaster’s flair and some sound advice from his 20 year journey as a touring rock musician, he is definitely more “prophet” than pilgrim.
The large crowd sang and swayed along with the music, in true revival style. Fans were treated to some of the inspirations behind Prophet’s pen: “Play That Song Again” recalls how everyone he ever met in San Francisco came from somewhere else, while “Castro Halloween” was created after someone brought a gun to a local neighborhood’s Halloween party. Prophet and dePrato skillfully teamed up for some joyful guitar interplay, and Finch’s keyboard melodies were infectious.
“Temple Beautiful” included a bit of audience participation with its call-and-response chorus, and several dedications were also made. “The Left Hand & The Right Hand” is a song about brothers in the sex business in San Francisco, and “White Night, Big City” is a lovely melodic tune with a somber tribute “for Harvey Milk.” The end of the song gave way to the night’s only foray into psychedelia, a genre that most would expect from a group with roots in San Francisco. This seemingly organic interlude was a highlight of the evening.
While Chuck Prophet shares some similarities to American storytellers like Bruce Springsteen or John Mellencamp, he has an original style all his own. The band will tour throughout the heartland and western US through the end of the summer.
Review by Stephanie Roman