chad urmston

“The Spirit of Independence”

I first met Chad Urmstom over a decade ago. His band “One Fell Swoop” was in the process of changing it’s name to “Dispatch”. A few years later, in 2004, Dispatch would perform their final concert at the Hatch Memorial Shell in Boston. They estimated about 25, 000 people would show up, maybe 30, 000. When the crowd swelled to over 100,000 the city of Boston was forced to shut down the streets surrounding the venue. Three years later they reunited to play a benefit show at Madison Square Garden. to fund raise for a troubled nation, Zimbabwe, It sold out in 24 hours forcing them to add a second show, which sold out as well, not to mention a third show. Not bad for a band who never had a hit single or signed a deal with a major label; which had been their choice.

Chad is a great person and a great musician. Between juggling multiple music projects he makes time to promote his passion for the many causes he supports and cares for. And these aren’t the “hey we’re in a band we better support a cause causes”, they’re the real deal. From raising funds for third world countries in need of support to working to give a voice to challenged individuals, his passion for cause work is genuine and he is fueled by it. I actually got to know him as a peace activist first and a musician later.

But what has impressed me the most is his determination to remain independent. Dispatch grew in popularity on their own terms. Releasing their music on small independent labels, they hit the road playing college campuses and small venues in cities across the country as well as around the globe. Before social media was the launch pad for getting your act known, word of mouth was their means of creating a following. And through word of mouth they soon became what some considered to be the number one independent act of their time. Under the radar of the big music machine, Dispatch ruled. And when the large labels came, they politely said, no thanks.

Remaining true to the spirit of being independent, Chad later formed State Radio,which today continues to gain momentum and grow strong. Popular with his fans, Chad remains true to his self. At a recent music video shoot for State Radio’s upcoming new album, Chad takes the time to introduce himself to the extras on the set. Not that they don’t know who he is, it is his way of saying “I appreciate you being here today and working with me” Chad knows being independent means working a little harder.

In today’s twitter, facebook, look at what I am doing now world, staking your claim as an individual has become the new status quo. So for those who claim to be independent, you’re going to have to find a way to do it on your own. Long live the rebel! Viva La Revolution! Chad, keep it up!

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I cannot face the past, I’d rather face the dark

Don’t know what to say, Dont know where you are

Is love too strong a god? How long do we have to go

Ever tempted by, How far we’d have to fall

To feel that way again. I come back for the Fall.

I would have met you there, But I got terribly lost.

You waited there so long; Finally you walked off.

And I just passed the road; The road I should have turned on. 

-“Back to the Races”, by Chadwick Stokes

My favorite song off Chad’s new solo album. Stellar and beautiful.

I MET STATE RADIO!

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After all these years of listening to Dispatch and State Radio, I met someone who has always inspired the way I write, think and listen since the first time I heard his music.  

Last night I finally went to a State Radio concert, it was long overdue.  And when I saw Chadwick Stokes Urmston step on stage for the first time of the night, I was overwhelmed.  I felt my emotions just as I had when going to Yankees games or seeing Billy Joel perform, but little did I know that my emotions wouldn’t peak till thereafter.

He spoke, even if my eyes were closed I would know his words by his dialect, Massachusetts accent, and diction.  He is always one step forward, one thought more; put together though appearing quite opposite.  

He spent his early songs feeling the energy in the room, and then eventually feeding off of us as a matador would turn to the audience after his first kill, getting ready for his next.  But there he was, standing about my height and size, interacting with his fans; he was there for us, speaking to everyone through his lyrics and words.

Charlie Stokes the baiter with his two co-fishermen, Chuck Fay and Mad Dog, hooked me.  I was moved by their songs, urged as if hot coals were thrown about my feet.  I lost my voice, my mind, my worries.  I was jumping and singing every word.  Being about five to ten rows back, I could not help but notice him notice me and turn to Chuck with an impressed reaction regarding their crowd.  Soon after, he told us: “You guys are kick ass.  This is our first time playing here at The Haunt, and I’m thinking this should not be our first time at all”.

After the show, my friend who had been to eleven previous S.R. shows told me to wait there because the band usually comes out to their fans afterwards.  In the meantime, she talked with one of their technical crew members and acquired the setlist of the show from him.  She gave me this and told me I should try to get it signed by all three members of State Radio.

So I waited around the stage alone, and nearly walked away.  Just as I thought about leaving, Chad and Mad Dog came from backstage out to their merchandise stand.  I think I became lightheaded as soon as I saw Chad.  

I said to him: “Chad!  Hi Chad, I’m a huge fan.  Can I get this signed?”.  

He replied back, listening to me and talking at the same time: “Yeah, just go over here with me”, in front of dozens of other fans hoping to get to interact with him.  

Once we got to the merchandise stand, he turned to me once we were there.  

I said: “I have the setlist right here, is this in your handwriting?”.  

He replied back to me looking at the small ripped paper then back at me, “Yes.  Yes, it is.”  

“Could I please get that signed, Chad?" 

"Yes, certainly!”

At this point, he took the pen out of my hand that my friend had given me.  After failing trying to do so, he then was given a black sharpie by a woman selling merchandise.  Other fans laughed at this and said, “There you go! ha ha”.  He nodded his head, and smiled at me.  I thanked him, asked him: “Can I just get a handshake, please Chad?”.  He looked me in the eyes once more and stuck out his hand to me as I reached for his, he gave me a firm handshake and smiled.

I then thanked him once more and ran back to my friend who was seated at a booth with her other friends within the bar/restaurant setting.  I was shaking so badly, holding the paper in my hand stating only: “Allison, oh my god!  Oh my god!  I can’t even believe this!”.  I believe she then tried asking me some things, but I wasn’t able to respond properly in the state of utter adrenaline rush.  She said: “Wow! Look how you’re shaking! Oh my gosh you are so cute!”.  Then Chuck Fay walked out from backstage and Allison called to him, “Chuck! Come over and talk with us!”

It was obvious that she was completely comfortable talking with them, and he came right over.  He remembered her.  I was shaking then too, she told Chuck about how I got the setlist signed.  Standing with a bottle of Bud Light in his hand, he looked truly delighted to see the affect their performance had on one fan.

He talked with me for a bit, I was mainly telling Chuck how brilliantly he played and how it was one of the best shows I’ve been to yet.  He was very grateful to hear such things and answered questions about his band asked by Allison and her friends.  State Radio is working on a new album (which they played a few new songs for us during the concert). Chad’s wife and band’s tour manager, Sybil, is pregnant with their child.  At some point during this discussion with Chuck, Allison asked Chuck if he would sign the setlist for me as well.  He did so right away.

After a bit he left to go over to the merchandise stand as well.  I then told Allison and her friends that I really want a picture with Chad, but my phone died (which has the camera that I would have used).  She told me don’t worry about it, they’ve got cameras and phones, “Let’s get you a picture with Chad!”

So I returned to the merch. stand with Allison, and waited my turn.  With everyone who met with Chad, he was extremely humble and asked common questions to each of his fans.  He always looked every person talking to him directly in their eyes – this was significant to me.  So while I was waiting, Mad Dog started talking with Allison, and she called me over. 

Mad Dog had performed one hell of a show on drum set, but like his bandmates, he was just an average person with an enormous amount of talent.  

I talked with him about how I felt when I first talked with Chad, and he said, “Really?”.  I brought this up to him because at that moment, Chad looked over to me while taking a picture with fans.  He noticed me, yet again.

I replied back, “Yes, and even right now I am shaking and nervous talking with you.”

“Ah man, don’t be nervous around me.  It’s just me – I’m not a star, I’m not intimidating.  Same with Chuck, Chad - (pause) - okay, maybe.  He has the hair going everywhere, he’s wild man.”

We both laughed, then an opportunity to take a picture with Chad came about and I said: “Chad, I know I’ve already talked with you, but could I get a few other things signed and a picture?" 

"Sure, man!”

He then signed Allison’s ticket that I handed him, and the inside of the brim of my cap.  Then he took a picture with me, and Mad Dog even got on the right side of the picture (as seen above ^).  

I talked with Chad a little bit more and though it was such an adrenaline rush that I don’t remember it all, I distinctly remember saying to him: “You are a great guy!  Excellent show!”  At which point he looked at me directly in the eyes again, saying: “Thank you.  You have a great night!  Thank you.”

This man is an incredible role-model to me.  It may even appear that I have some romantic fantasy about him, but that’s not even a thought.  Just entirely influenced by him; the icon that he is, of everything compassionate, innovative and intelligent; above all else: an intellect and an individual first.

When all things wrong in our government and society are to be taken as they come and accepted, there stands a dagger in the lesser-known music scene.  A voice that brings their message to people, commoners and college kids, helping in each town with Calling All Crows.  They prove themselves believable and preach their sermons, charging their crowds with their own electrifying energies as currents work in streams.  They are the voice of justice for their people.  On stage, State Radio are charmers and they welcome us to their own sweeping trance.  They welcome us, ask us personal questions of justice, power, equality, success and failure through their lyrics, and leave us doubting and churned and happy to have experienced “real talk”.  Everything is pure, nothing is sweet.  Off stage, they welcome us.  They are not there to brainwash us, but to encourage our thinking, to show us how to be compassionate and how to be individuals and intellects with everything our culture presents to us.  They are three unified friends, they are gentlemen.  On November 18, 2011, I met State Radio.

I reached my car, and I cried with joy.  I called Melissa and my family.  My brother said it right, “These are the nights in college you need to be having”.  These are the nights I need to be having.  These are the joys and excitements that stay with me for my lifetime.  I have been told how to live, sleeping in the backseat of a car driven by questionable promises of safety and well-being.  Don’t I want to see all about what is real? … And so State Radio’s influence is immediate and relentless to me.  This was one of the best days that I can remember.  Thank you Chad “Chetro” Urmston, Chuck Fay and Mad Dog.  Thank you, Allison and your friends.  Thank you to my friend for letting me know about this concert.  I wish it never ended.

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Chadwick Stokes (Urmston, for fans of Dispatch and State Radio) released this song last Monday, the third from his upcoming album, “The Horse Comanche.” The ten-track studio album was co-produced by Sam Beam (Iron & Wine) and will feature Lucius.

Though he shies away from musical labels, Stokes’s sound is distinct, perhaps best described as world-inspired reggae-folk. In contrast to many of his songs – which often serve as a platform for social and political messages – the acoustic “I Want You Like a Seatbelt,” with its layered percussion and sexy-woodsy lyrics, is just really fun to dance to.

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