Live Music: Dark side of dream

Musician Chuck Prophet, appearing in Sheffield
Musician Chuck Prophet, appearing in Sheffield

Californian guitarist, singer and songwriter Chuck Prophet has been an occasional visitor to Sheffield over the years – there are distant memories of an appearance at the short-lived National Centre for Popular Music – and he is back on Monday.

He brings his band, the Mission Express, and his high-octane rootsy rock to the Leadmill where he once played with the Los Angeles-based Green On Red.

After eight years and eight albums with Green On Red in the 1980s and early 90s, Prophet is now firmly established under his own name, and with a reputation for delivering on stage.

The latest tour sees the dynamic guitarist with a four-piece that features his wife Stephanie Finch as a singer, keyboardist and guitarist.

It follows the release of his 14th and intriguingly named album, Bobby Fuller Died For Your Sins, which the San Francisco-based musician describes as “California noir”.

He says: “The state has always represented the Golden Dream and it’s the tension between romance and reality that lurks underneath the surface in all noir films and paperbacks and that connects these songs.

“Doomed love, inconsolable loneliness, rags to riches to rags again and fast-paced violence are always on the menu on the Left Coast.”

Chuck hitches his love of rock’n’roll to a quest to ponder some of life’s more serious questions.

The album’s title track refers to the mysterious death 50 year ago of Bobby Fuller, the singer and guitarist with the Bobby Fuller Four, who had a hit with I Fought the Law.

Aged 23, he died of asphyxiation in the front seat of his mother’s car.

Then there’s a track called Bad Year For Rock And Roll, which was partly inspired by the deaths in 2016 of David Bowie and other rock greats.

The album closes with Alex Nieto, a security guard who was controversially shot by police in San Francisco.

Serious stuff – but it’s wrapped in some fine music.

lSupport act with Chuck Prophet are Curse of Lono. Founded and fronted by Felix Bechtolsheimer, formerly singer-guitarist in British roots pioneers Hey Negrita, the band formed in early 2015.

However, the songs on their debut EP Severed were written over a 14-year period.

They range from the perky, Paul Simon-ish new single Pick Up The Pieces to the rootsy, rhythmic Send For The Whiskey.

The four tracks on the EP form the soundtrack to Saturday Night, a short film of interconnected music videos directed by Alex Walker.

Saturday Night, which stars Grant Masters and Marta Hermida, was released alongside the EP, with the four episodes premiering on music websites Louder Than War, Relix, Indie Rock Café and Spindle Magazine.

The short film also won best music video at the LA Independent Film Festival and at The London Independent Film Awards.

To expand on the visual theme, Curse Of Lono spent a day filming at their London studio with live music video producers Ont’ Sofa, recording 10 live performances which they are releasing monthly through different websites and on their own YouTube channel as The Doghouse Sessions.

lHalf Man Half Biscuit appear at the Leadmill on Thursday, August 3.