Chuck Prophet Acoustic Trio w/Mark Erelli
Union Stage, Washington, DC
January 7, 2023
Victorious over a battle with lymphoma, Chuck Prophet is back on the road playing gigs. The Chuck Prophet Acoustic Trio features the 60% of the Mission Express comprised of himself (of course), his wife Stephanie Finch on keys, vox, guitar and Vicente Rodriguez on percussion.
I’ve seen Chuck a number of times now – he is a performing phenomenon. If you have not made it to see a Chuck Prophet show yet, I can’t recommend it strongly enough. He is one of those rockers whose authenticity and geniality makes a strong connection with his audience. Chuck fans are some of the most loyal and ardent fans out there in an age where much music is as ethereal as cryptocurrency and is manufactured as impersonally as Cheerios.
Setlist surprises are one of the reasons I still enjoy going to see live music, and as such, I don’t like to give too much away about what songs an artist plays on stage. It’s too easy to read a setlist and say to yourself “oh, I’ve heard that before” or “oh, I don’t like that one,” and just not show up to a gig. That’s not why Americana Highways is here, folks. We WANT you out there supporting the artists. That said, many of the usual Prophet suspects are present in the Trio’s setlist, and they hold up exceptionally well in their stripped-down form. The show also featured a couple of tunes I hadn’t heard Chuck play live before – including one from Night Surfer that I’ve been itching to hear for a while.
The rehearsed and off-the-cuff jokes are still there – perhaps a bit more poignant and urgent now given Prophet’s recent health scare. The sense of family among the audience remains for the faithful, and awaits any and all newcomers. Don’t miss Chuck out on the road with his trio now, or later in the spring when he tours with The Mission Express. http://www.chuckprophet.com
Massachusetts-born singer/songwriter Mark Erelli opened the show, performing a 20-30 minute set of material drawn partially from his 2020 album entitled “Blindsided”, and from his forthcoming album “Lay Your Darkness Down” – a standout moment of his performance was “Is it Enough?” from this soon to be released album, due out on February 3, 2023. Diagnosed in 2020 with retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative disease of the retina. During his set, Erelli referred to October 2, 2017 – the day the world lost Tom Petty. Petty’s influence is ever present in Erelli’s well-crafted and deeply personal songs. Andrew Stern provided lead guitar support on a delicious sounding Guild Starfire 335, which exquisitely complemented Mark’s acoustic stylings.