Text: Shilpa Bakre & Jon Prophet, Photography: Jeff Kauffman
Smoldering. Eclectic. Energetic. These are words musician Jon Prophet uses to describe is music. Jon professes, “Great music has its own magic and will survive in spite of mediocrity. I have always felt these songs, my songs, need to be out in the world to inspire people and to move themselves into higher realms of awareness.” The works of artists like Chris Whitley, Tricky, Jeff Buckley and Grant Lee Phillips inspire Jon to bring a poetic sensitivity to music without losing energy or intensity. He offers a sweet tonic for the trials and tribulations of the human heart. His intense voice is haunting yet soulful and belts out with sad, seismic passion that unfurls like a sail in a summer storm.
As a teen in his small hometown of Show Low, AZ in the 1980s, Jon absorbed himself in the heavy metal acts of the time: Metallica, Megadeath, Exodus, Testament, Slayer, Anthrax and so on. He’d watch Head Bangers Ball late nights on MTV eagerly awaiting something heavy and menacing. One night, a song entitled “Hands all Over” by Soundgarden played and, for Jon, cut through the pretentious bullshit like a dull, rusty knife. Then it happened: Nirvana dropped the single “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and well, you know the rest.
Prophet formed and re-formed bands after high school and a bit of community college, until moving from Show Low to the “big city” of Phoenix. He worked as a drum tech and roadie for a few well-followed local “ass rock” bands. (In case you’re wondering what that means, it is basically a term for any band, back in the day, that could get a crowd full of hot and scantily dressed females out to their shows. Those were part of the benefits to the gig!)
Jon had a vision to write songs that would make people feel the way the music he loves made him feel: the sense of mystery and wonder that Jim Morrison conveyed with his enigmatic lyrics and rich voice, or the physical exuberance expressed by air drumming along side Neil Peart or Keith Moon, or the visceral thrill of “wind milling” with Pete Townsend or riffing with Jimmy Page. Artists like Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Al Green and Sam Cooke, with their smooth soul sounds, made Jon aware of a world far beyond his own. “This is the greatness I continue to aspire to. These creative geniuses keep bringing me back to music. I think my biggest criticism of today’s music is the lack of risk-taking.”
Jon began to produce, compose, and perform his own music in the early 90s. He opened for the Foo Fighters and country legend TG Sheppard. He toured regionally in the southwest US with cover bands, released 2 records of his own music, and played with amazing musicians in hundreds of shows for thousands of people. Not a bad deal.
The glorious moments of the stage, however, didn’t make up for the frustration over not getting the attention Jon felt his band and music deserved. “I got bitter and jaded and I knew I needed to take a break from it.” Jon began to travel, study, and explore the world, all the while gaining perspective and enjoying a free lifestyle that had not been possible previously. “My experiences in the last several years have been eye-opening. Much has changed for me. Despite my wandering journeys and attempts to leave music, it has never left me. Music is the most loyal and committed partner I have ever had.”
Jon is currently working on a new record of earthy, roots rock, neo-folk and Americana style songs to be released in the fall of 2011. www.jonprophetmusic.com ▲