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Dispatch photo courtesy of PRESS HERE publicity.
Dispatch photo courtesy of PRESS HERE publicity.

Q&A: Dispatch working to make world a better place; excited to return to Artpark

by jmaloni
Mon, Jun 17th 2024 03:25 pm

Preview by Joshua Maloni

GM/Managing Editor


When you see Dispatch live in Lewiston, know that you’re helping to make the world a better place.

Twenty years ago, Dispatch drew more than 100,000 people to the Hatch Shell in Boston for what was, at that time, labeled a last hurrah. Three years later, founding band members Chadwick Stokes and Brad Corrigan made a successful return to the road – at the famed Madison Square Garden in Manhattan.

But if you ask them what’s been most significant about the past quarter-century and a career in music, the answer you’re likely to get does not involve fame, fortune or fans, but fatherhood.

It was starting families – right before and in the midst of the pandemic – that motivated the one-time Middlebury College (Vermont) students to take a hard look at society. What Stokes, Corrigan and company found was a need to use their platform to chip away at hate, intolerance and injustice, and to do their part to make a better path forward for future generations.

Pairing their tried-and-true roots rock with a blend of reggae, folk and blues, Dispatch crafted new pieces of music that, as the band’s team noted, are “an ode to resilience and survival, a timely and essential collection that still manages to find hope and joy even on the darkest of days.”

All of this while taking “every opportunity to use their success for good, launching charitable organizations to fight poverty and mass incarceration, raising funds and awareness for environmental causes, schools and hospitals on the road, and even traveling as far afield as Nicaragua and Zimbabwe to work with children and communities in need.”

Plus, the songs are really good: an elevated collection of jam-band joy.

Dispatch will headline a June 28 concert stop at the Artpark Amphitheater. The show starts at 7 p.m. with support from Stolen Gin. Tickets are available at www.artpark.net and via the box office at 450 S. Fourth St.

Corrigan shared more in this edited Q&A.



Q: When you guys decided to go on pause back, what 20 years ago, I guess it was now, and you drew 100,000, 110,000 fans to see you perform, did it give you pause?

Brad Corrigan: (Laughs) A little. Yeah, that was something.

Dude, we had taken two years off before that. So, 2002 is the beginning of our “hiatus.” We were not doing well. Individually, we were exhausted. Collectively, we weren't getting along. We were so burned out. So, I mean, two years away from the band, and then playing that show in ’04. We were so convinced that we needed to be apart that that big show was really epic. But it's still like, “Nah, we still can't make that a replacement for the rest that we each need, and figuring out whatever kind of healing our band needs in order to keep making music.”

So, it was a good time, man. And all of us were eyes wide open to like, “Whoa, look; our music isn't just in our country now. There's 29 countries represented in this audience.”

It was awesome. It was like the best farewell ever.

And then, as every band does, like, “Well, wait a minute, we're doing OK now, three years later; let's play again.” And that was Madison Square Garden.

So, it was getting crazy. At that point, it's like here's this outdoor show in Boston in ’04. And then in ’07, three nights at MSG. I think we were realizing like, “OK, our music, and this new thing called Napster, and file sharing, and we're on underground radio channels now.” Like, maybe we should see, “Can we work out our own stuff and still create enough music to enjoy the ride?”

Q: It's interesting when say you wondered if you could work out your own stuff. Your website talks a lot about how you've all gone through life over the past five years, as, of course, we've all gone through life over the past five years. You were able to put out “Bootleg Series: Acoustic EP,” “Promise Land,” “Break Our Fall,” “Break Our Fall (Acoustic) EP.” So, you did have that mechanism, it would seem, to channel some of those feelings and those ups and downs into some really good music. I'm wondering if you could talk about the past couple of years and the challenges you had, but also being able to overcome those, and to create this music. What’s that journey been like for each of you?

Brad Corrigan: Well, I think for each of us, music has been the way that we have channeled lots of the questions that we've had, anything we've struggled with – whether it was our own or something happening in the world; art’s been a place to go to sort of process things and get things out of us.

And so, I think songwriting has always been a really helpful thing, personally, and, kind of like, universally, or whatever the word would be.

And then recording; we've had some amazing teammates in the studio.

John Dragonetti is our producer, and Mike Sawitzke as our engineer for “America, Location 12,” 2016-17. That was the beginning of this new exciting era of like, “Wow, these guys are so great in the studio,” and they've made it so easy for us to kind of get our ideas out fast. And then Mike Sawitzke was such a great multi-instrumentalist in the studio that we invited him to tour with us, and now he's in the band.

So, I think 2016, 2018, 2020, 2019, somewhere in there, like three records; we were just cranking. … Chad was already a dad at that point. I was just married in 2019 and had my son in 2020, and daughter in 2022. So, I mean, like something about becoming a dad. You see the world so differently. And Chad and I together thinking, “Alright, what world are we leaving for our kids,” and “Where do we want to go. … What do we want to go on record and say. What questions do we want to ask right now?”

You just feel like it's a very privileged platform to be putting your questions into the world, knowing that they're getting some volume for some reason; and hoping other people are going to look at those questions with you. So, it's been a pretty inspiring season.

But yeah, I think, if I had to say one thing, I think it's the dad dynamic, where you feel like, “Wow, there's a very different way now that I'm looking at the world,” and “What do I want my kids to remember about me? What questions do I want to ask on their behalf? What fights do I want to fight on their behalf?” That stuff is pretty important.



Q: Yeah, and not only is what you said and the way you said it significant, but I find it interesting that this music is also available for free on your website. All you have to do is send in an email and you get a download link. What is the philosophy behind that? Because it's interesting to have this message you want to get out to the world but, at the same time, you’ve got to charge for it, right? I mean, you’ve got to pay the bills. You have to make a living; you have a team to support. So, to provide this music – to make it as readily accessible as it is to fans and to the world, in general – what's the thinking behind that?

Brad Corrigan: I remember in, like, ’99, 2000, we spent entire years’ touring income on a record. “Who Are We Living For?” And I remember saying, “Burn to share, then buy.” That was kind of our little mark on the back of our record.

Anyone can have our music and listen to it for free. But if you're really inspired by it and want to support the artist, then buy the record – don't just have the mp3 on your phone; buy the CD with the artwork, or buy the vinyl, or buy something to support the band.

We've always been a fan of giving ourselves away, and giving our music away, knowing that we just feel like, our fans, if we were loyal to them, maybe they'd be loyal to us. And then, here we are, you know, almost 30 years later, with just an amazing family of fans that have been so supportive and come to live shows.

So, gratefully, our income stream from tickets and merchandise and being on the road is enough for us to keep moving forward. But I will say, it's challenging for any artist to kind of hustle and make it, especially when, in these days, there's just so many more people that it takes in order to put something on the road.

So, we would encourage everyone out there, like, listen to music, but when you find something that you love, tell others about it, because, at the very least, the more people who are listening to it and “supporting” it, either in sharing it or buying it, that should mean that we're going to be able to play longer, and have more people that we can support, we hope.

Q: Talking about the success you've had on the road, tell me about your live show and what we can expect when we see you guys up here this month.

Brad Corrigan: Chad and I look at Matt Embree and think, “How on earth do we get to have such a phenomenal guitar player, and musician, and friend up on stage with us?” His solos are so fun to watch in real time.

“JR” (Jon Reilly) – we just look at him and think, “How does someone have that kind of jumping energy?” And his vocals are so powerful at the very top. He's kind of the top layer of our five voices. And the way he plays the drums, there's just so much energy behind him.

Mike Sawitzke is like anchoring us with the keys in one hand and a trumpet in the other; and then he's got a mandolin tuned; and then he goes to the banjo; and then shreds on “Crazy Train.” He can play the entire guitar solo for “Crazy Train.”

So, I think the five of us, we're really excited to see what happens each night. We know each other well enough now; we’ve played together in this particular iteration of the band for seven or eight years. So, I think we have so much fun now on stage that I can't wait to come up and play.

I mean, who knows what that night will be like? But we know that your venue is a beautiful one. We remember it really well. I feel like the fans are very accessible. You feel like it's not so much a stage and then the audience; you feel like you're all kind of one.

Hopefully, we’ll have good weather and we can just light it up.



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