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Live Music Week happens bi-annually at WERS to raise money to keep our station running. We ask if you can pledge your support in order to keep us live on air, bringing you live performances from your favorite musicians. Pledges can be made here.
Chadwick Stokes, an original member of Dispatch and founder of Boston-based band State Radio, stopped by WERS Studio on October 10 to give an acoustic performance for Live Music Week. In his plaid button-down shirt, scruffy beard, and a warm smile, he played three acoustic songs on his guitar that not only have a catchy melody, but an interesting story behind them. Hearing Chad play is almost like having story time around a camp fire; you can’t help but listen to every detail.
“I’ve always liked the story telling aspect of writing,” explained Stokes. “Music is better when it is more than just a song.” Being part story teller and part musician makes his live performances a new kind of concert experience.
His current solo tour, called the Living Room Tour, is also a very new kind of concert experience. If you are thinking that the Living Room Tour couldn’t exactly be what it sounds like, guess again. Stokes has been traveling all over the country to perform in random houses that offered him and his family to stay. The shows usually have around 40 to 50 people and each one has been a unique experience. He spoke about how they camped out during a lightening storm in Minnesota, and how one of the houses they stayed out had eight kids living in it. One of them was ironically in a Dispatch cover band and was able to get up and perform with Chad. “It was a party from the start!” he said.
Compared to the venues Stokes has performed in before, the Living Room Tour experience has been quite the opposite. Last year, Dispatch sold out both TD Garden and Madison Square Garden and performed for thousands at a time. Stokes is also accustomed to large audiences with State Radio, who will be setting sail in a couple weeks for the Rombello Cruise; a four day cruise music festival including acts by Michael Franti and Spearhead, Rebelution, Trevor Hall and many more. “I’ve never even been on a cruise before,” said Stokes excitedly. “But I’m up for it!” It’s pretty clear Stokes is always up to try something new and interesting. He relishes the small moments which drive him to create more music.
At WERS, the first song he performed was “All My Possessions,” which is a track off his 2011 album Simmerkane II. The song is an ode to a friend who was killed a few years back, and takes on a different vibe when performed acoustically. The album recording is a reggae jam, with light percussion and Caribbean sounding harmonies. Acoustically, the song took on a more nostalgic, sultry tone that still hooks the listener in.
Next, he performed a brand new song called “Dead Badger,” which is actually about a dead raccoon he found as a child behind his sheep pasture. He explained that when he found it, he buried it in the ground with some extra space for it to breathe. The song also combines a second story about how him and his band mates helped a girl on the side of the road get a ride. This combination of childhood innocence and being helpful fully mesh together during the song. “In the end, it’s all about helping each other out,” Stokes explained.
He closed with another new song called “Our Lives, Our Time.” The verses were made up of fast spoken word, similar to many Dispatch songs, and ended on an upbeat note.
Stokes is going to be finishing up the last leg of his Living Room Tour on the West Coast with only about seven shows left. One of the shows includes a juvenile delinquent hall where his friend works. He’s expecting it to be a strange experience. The tour as a whole has help Stokes gauge his new songs to an audience, and let him workshop them the way he wants. With his new album still a minimum of six months away, the Living Room Tour has been helpful in more ways than one.
“It’s more fun going off the beaten path to towns I’ve never heard of,” said Stokes during his performance. We should definitely be expecting more unusual stories coming up in his new music.