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.