8:55 p.m. July 6---
The highlight of my July 4 weekend was seeing Chuck Prophet and his Mission Express band kick off the 28th annual American Music Festival at FitzGerald's roadhouse in Berwyn, Ill. Based in San Francisco, Prophet doesn't get around these parts much. Prophet deals vivid mash-ups of soul, country and pop hooks that reflect his travels across America dating back to his 1985 band Green on Red.
I went back to reconsider a 2002 profile I did on Prophet when he was opening for Lucinda Williams. He called me from an economy hotel in St. Paul, Mn. to talk about absorbing the sounds of the road: "In the last five years of traveling, the one thing I've liked to do is pick up mix tapes," he said. "These guys will take Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody' on 45 RPM and put a beat behind it when it comes to the 'mama-mia' part. I'm a fan of DJ culture. I love the way they can turn things sideways....I listen to old music. I've always kept my eye in the rearview mirror, but I've started to look down the road ahead."
One of the highlights of Prophet's July 2 set was his groove drenched "Summertime Thing"" and the encore of a ladies choice instrumental "Theme From a Summer Place.' Lights on, hands off.
And every summer its inevitable someone asks me to assemble a good road mix tape.
Here's 18 songs to consider. Thanks for the inspiration, Chuck.................
"No Particiular Place to Go," Chuck Berry
"Ridin' In My Car," NRBQ
"Nowhere Road," Steve Earle
"Metal Firecracker," Lucinda Williams
"Call Me The Breeze," J.J. Cale
"Cold Irons Bound," Bob Dylan
"True Love Travels Down a Gravel Road," Percy Sledge
"Highway of the Saints," Pat McLaughlin
"Don't Think About Her When You're Trying To Drive," Little Village (actually happened to me while leaving Natchez with the sound of screeching wheels.)
"Blue Car," Greg Brown
"What Led Me To This Town," Jayhawks
"Amarillo By Morning," George Strait
"Big City," Merle Haggard
"Like a Rolling Stone," Bob Dylan
"Jesus Just Left Chicago," Z.Z. Top
"Lake Shore Drive," Aliotta, Haynes & Jeremiah
"You're Crazy For Taking The Bus," Jonathan Richman & the Skeletons
"I've Been Everywhere," Hank Snow....but then we could start getting into trucker songs which is an entirely different category.
What am I missing?
P.S.---I didn't talk to Prophet on his Chicago area stopover and it sounded like he flew in for the gig. But in 2002 he and his band--including his wife and keyboardist Stephanie Finch---were tooling around the Midwest in a 1988 Dodge Ram van with 280,000 miles on the odometer. Prophet admitted that sounded like a lot until he learned country renagade Billy Joe Shaver had 800,000 miles on his Dodge. Just something you should know.