Courtesy of Maggie Reilly
After selling out Madison Square Garden and making music history by attracting the largest crowd in independent music history, his solo debut album debuted at No. 18 on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart.
In support of his solo debut, “Simmerkane II,” Chadwick Stokes will play The Basement in Columbus on Saturday at 7 p.m.
Stokes started out in a band that ultimately became known as Dispatch.
In 2004, Stokes, along with fellow band members Brad Corrigan and Pete Francis Heimbold, performed a final show at the Hatch Shell in Boston, Mass., that pulled in more than 110,000 fans from all over the world.
“It was insane, so surreal,” Stokes told The Lantern. “There were four times as many people as we thought there would be. At most we were thinking 30,000, It looked like a sea of people. There was no police detail and it was absolute craziness. It was so unreal and such a beautiful day.”
Dispatch made independent music history again by becoming the first independent band to sell out Madison Square Garden. In 2007, the band reunited for a single show that sold out in mere seconds. The band then added two more nights at the venue and ended up selling out all three nights.
“It is such a story tale stadium that is amazing hallowed ground which gave it a different feel,” Stokes said. “It was scary, I remember being weak in the knees when climbing on the stage.”
In 2002, Stokes formed State Radio, which went on to produce three full-length albums, which focused exclusively on guitar and vocals.
Stokes remains actively involved in both State Radio and Dispatch, and has sold a combined total of more than 675,000 records. Coming off a two-month tour with State Radio, Stokes returned to the road in June with Dispatch.
Stokes grew up as a pacifist through time spent at The Peace Abbey and volunteering in Zimbabwe.
“Since I lived there (Zimbabwe), I like to stay a constant activist for improving the living conditions,” Stokes said. “I want to raise awareness and try to keep an eye on the screwed up government,” Stokes said.
As a committed activist, Stokes is passionate about inspiring the live music community to invest their time and energy in public service and humanitarian causes, according to a press release.
In 2008, the Boston Music Awards honored Stokes as Humanitarian of the Year for creating the Elias Fund, the Dispatch Foundation and Calling All Crows.
Simmerkane II was inspired by his freight-train-jumping adventure across the U.S. with his brother and cousin.
“It was amazing, the places you see and the people you meet,” Stokes said. “Just the rhythm of the tracks was definitely inspirational.”
The adventure included wading across a river to escape the chasing railroad bulls, having veterans threaten to carve his teeth out with a knife, and finally reaching the West Coast, lying face down at gunpoint care of the NSA, according to the press release.
This solo album made him step out of his comfort zone and is unlike any other of his albums.
“It is really personal, I was not afraid to go down the road and talk about my childhood,” Stokes said.
The 10-track album was produced by John Dragonetti (of The Submarines) and includes guest appearances from Carly Simon, Matt Embree (Rx Bandits), The White Buffalo, and Blake Hazard (The Submarines).
“You never know how someone is going to act (about making a new record),” Stokes said.
“It’s really neat for me when people take the music into their lives, and it becomes a soundtrack for them when they go through their ups and downs,” Stokes said.
“And don’t worry I’ve already been told I was crazy for having a lot of animals in it.”
Stokes just embarked on his 12-city solo tour, which includes stops in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Boulder, Nashville, Atlanta, among other U.S. cities.