A Perfect Night

Chuck Prophet at Abilene in downtown Rochester, New York
Chuck Prophet at Abilene in downtown Rochester, New York

We offered to let Eric stay at our place. He had played in Cleveland the night before and got held up fulfilling the checkout list at his Airbnb so he arrived just as we were heading out for dinner at Kerry and Claire’s. When we returned near midnight Eric was playing his Alvarez on the couch. He showed us the wafer thin spot above the F hole that he had worn down on this tour. Rochester was his last stop.

Peggi and I intended to watch the last half hour of the England-Croatia match before going to bed. We had recorded the game and then the two shows in the time slots after the game in the event that the match went into overtime. It did but something went awry. Judge Judy, the first show we recorded after regulation time, started at the 117th minute and Croatia had already scored the go ahead goal. Eric isn’t much of a football fan but he told us his friends in England were all bummed out.

I had a premonition that Amy would show up and sure enough she walked in minutes before Wreckless Eric took the stage at the Bop Shop. Eric’s set was sublime, a sonic adventure where new and old songs were supercharged, interrupted and amended and footnoted like a David Foster Wallace novel. Eric looks a bit like a priest with his white hair, black sport shirt and bolo, black jeans and shoes, a priest who can get a monstrously crunchy sound from an acoustic guitar. Between songs he went off on a hunch that his guitar wanted to do a solo album without him and his fuzz tone and boxes were just conspiring to get him to drive them around. I loved the rich contrast between his old songs, pop anthems really, and his wry, world weary new ones.

Chuck Prophet was playing at the same time, downtown at the Party in the Park, on a bill with G Love. Rumor had it that he would also do a late set on the deck out back at Abilene so we headed downtown. We had heard him with the band when they opened for Sharon Jones a few years back and we weren’t really buying it but it was such a beautiful night.

A five dollar cover, a seven dollar beer and we found a spot up front just as they started. Prophet has a great band and he is a really good entertainer in a charming, sort of goofy way. His first few songs were ok but then came the covers, one carefully chosen song after another. They all sounded great. Pipeline, Telstar, KC’s Boogie Shoes, Shake Some Action with Amy and Eric on backups and then Tom Petty’s American Girl with Amy Rigby doing the middle section, a rip-roaring version. Of course they did an encore, Alex Chilton’s Bangkok. It was a perfect night.

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