High Sierra: Chuck Prophet
"I lost control on the Miracle Mile. She had big hair and an innocent smile." There's a quite a tale hinted at in just 15 words but that kind of short-handed storytelling is the hallmark of this truly gifted singer-songwriter. With a voice full of insinuations, the twang-tastic Chuck Prophet taught the early afternoon festivarians just "What Makes The Monkey Dance."
Plying his trade with white boy funk, country nods, pure sticky pop, handkerchief grabbin' ballads and straight out barroom rockin', Prophet offered up two sets in a single Friday at High Sierra that were so well played, so well constructed, that one felt satisfied on a cellular level. Every element worked from the arrangements to the melodies to the delivery. It seems simple enough but until you actually hear somebody lay it out so well you forget how nice it is to be serenaded by a pro.
Drawing heavily from his most recent albums, Age of Miracles and No Other Love, both majorly ace platters, the band was by turns sensitive and smart-ass. One factor that separates this from the herd is an experimental fringe that keeps things lively without ever feeling premeditated or artificial. They just like screwing around with their material. That's to be commended.
What Prophet delivered in both the early evening & afternoon performances was a ringing affirmation of all the promise many of us first heard when he strapped on a guitar with Green On Red in the 1980s. He's out there doing it on stages, honing his work to a fine point that pierces things with humor & sincerity. It's a lethal combination you gotta hear with your own ears.