The Bottle Rockets & Chuck Prophet

The Bottle Rockets & Chuck Prophet

For years, Chuck Prophet and the Mission Express and the Bottle Rockets have toured the country on their own, passing each other like Econolines in the night. For years they listened to each other’s records on the road, but they had no idea if the other knew of their existence. So, their co-headlining tour is some kind of destiny.

The bands’ home bases are separated by 2053 miles, yet their love of all things rock & roll – its roots in country and rhythm & blues, the way stories and emotions come to life on stage – is separated by nothing. It may seem like an peculiar pairing, at least until the bands plug in and turn up. Rock & roll has never sounded so full of life and warmth and wit – at least not since that time Chuck Berry sound-checked alone.

Chuck Prophet has been called “one of America's strongest songwriters and recording artists” (AllMusic) and his music deemed “a swashbuckling set of blasted guitars and rootsy grooves” (Uncut). The San Franciscan’s latest album, Bobby Fuller Died For Your Sins, creates a story-driven, sonic world that Prophet calls “California noir.” It unfolds like a movie about heroes and villains and the redemptive power of music. American Songwriter summed it up as “yet another example of not just [Prophet’s] love of rock and roll, but [his] ability to create it with the spirit and intensity of the best of those that influenced him.”
Since forming in Festus, Missouri some 25 years ago, the Bottle Rockets have released 10 studio albums and, against considerable odds, emerged as true soul survivors of the great alt-country scare of the ‘90s. The band’s latest release, South Broadway Athletic Club, pays homage to its St. Louis turf by channeling all of the city’s tough blues, tougher twang, and crunchy rock & roll. Lead singer and chief songwriter Brian Henneman speaks to “the regular guy who punches a time clock with greater honesty and understanding than practically anyone who professes to be The Voice Of The People” (AllMusic). NPR Music describes the Bottle Rockets as “always lending uplift to hard times and good ones” and “here to help you get through your real life.”

The bands’ first tour together happened on a whim (Prophet’s whim to be exact) in the spring of 2017, starting in Madison, Wisconsin and closing out at the legendary Bowery Ballroom in New York. What makes their shows together special is hard to define, but it has something to do with chemistry, that ever-elusive spark of inspiration. Now, on the eve of their second tour together, the bands are ready to rev up the Econolines and ramp up the inspiration. Speaking of his Prophet and the Mission Express, Henneman says, “The songs inspire me to write better, the guitar playing inspires me to play better. At first it made me want to do what they do, but I quickly realized that would be bullshit. We'll never be better at that, but by damned, we can be better at US, especially when we see what we're up against every night.”

For Prophet, the feeling is mutual. “The Bottle Rockets have that effortless cool,” he says. “They inspire us. Make us laugh. And make us want to get better. They have the songs for sure. I love a great song. But who cares if you can't play? And man, they can get up and play on a dime.” “My band, me and the guys and Stephie, we love the Bottle Rockets,” Prophet adds. “We don’t agree on all that much. But we all agree on the Bottle Rockets.”

Chuck Prophet and the Mission Express + The Bottle Rockets. Two great American bands that took years to join forces but who absolutely belong together. What more, really, do you need to know? They are true believers, keepers of the flame, kickers of the ass, and throwers down of fierce and joyous live music that nobody should miss.
Roy Kasten
Senior Writer, Riverfront Times

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