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Chad Stokes of Dispatch: ‘Wicked psyched’ for Maine return on July 20

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Indie roots jam band Dispatch (L to R: Chad Stokes, Brad Corrigan, Pete Heimbold) is set to rock Thompson's Point in Portland, Saturday, July 20, as part of the group's Summer Stops 2019 tour. This will be the band's only headlining New England date this year. "The outdoor vibe is pretty conducive to the Dispatch sound," co-founding member Chad Stokes tells The Maine Edge. "They're down to earth and casual in the best way up in Maine. It's a good feeling when we're there." Indie roots jam band Dispatch (L to R: Chad Stokes, Brad Corrigan, Pete Heimbold) is set to rock Thompson's Point in Portland, Saturday, July 20, as part of the group's Summer Stops 2019 tour. This will be the band's only headlining New England date this year. "The outdoor vibe is pretty conducive to the Dispatch sound," co-founding member Chad Stokes tells The Maine Edge. "They're down to earth and casual in the best way up in Maine. It's a good feeling when we're there." (Band photo by Allen Ralph)

Dispatch, the long-serving multi-genre indie roots jam band, is set to play their only New England headlining show of the year this Saturday, July 20, at Thompson’s Point in Portland, with special guests Moon Taxi.

Dispatch is performing a limited number of Summer Stops 2019 concerts in support of the new live album “Live 18” and their 2018 studio album “Location 13.” The band is currently working on material for its eighth studio album.

“We’re no strangers to Maine and we’re wicked psyched to be returning for this show,” says Dispatch front man and multi-instrumentalist Chad Stokes.

I asked Stokes what comes to mind when he thinks of some of the band’s previous visits to Maine.

“I think of Peaks Island, although I don’t think we’ve ever played there. I’m most familiar with Portland, and the level of musicianship in that city is incredible. We’ve played the State Theatre and The Big Easy a bunch of times. We had a lot of fun in Bangor playing next to the river at Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion (July 14, 2018). That show was so much fun. Maine just has a really great vibe and I know this show at Thompson’s Point will be special.”

Dispatch fans know that each of the band’s concerts is a singular experience, with a unique setlist that will likely see members switch instruments over the course of the show.

According to Stokes, performing in Maine next to the water will likely play a role in making this Saturday’s show a special one.

“It’s so beautiful there,” Stokes said of Thompson’s Point. “It will likely color the vibe in terms of which songs the band chooses to play. We have a couple of covers planned and maybe some gags here and there that are fun for us but you don’t usually get at every show.”

Dispatch formed in the mid-1990s when Stokes was attending Middlebury College in Vermont with bandmates Brad Corrigan (vocals, guitars, drums) and Pete Heimbold (guitars, bass). The band released four albums before performing what was to have been their farewell concert at Boston’s Hatch Shell in 2004. Expecting a turnout of (at the most) 20,000, the band was stunned when an estimated 110,000 fans showed up to send the group off in style.

A 2007 Dispatch reunion sold out three benefit shows at Madison Square Garden in New York City with funds directed to Zimbabwean humanitarian relief and a variety of U.S. charities long supported by the band.

“We have incredible fans,” Stokes said of the people who go out of their way to attend the band’s shows and support a variety of causes held up by the trio.

“People took a chance on us at the beginning when word of mouth was pretty much the only way to find out about Dispatch. To this day, I ask people how they found out about the band. It’s usually ‘Oh, my cousin played your music’ or ‘I was dating this guy that was a huge fan’ or ‘I heard your music at summer camp.’ It’s always interesting to hear how people stumble on our music.”

Since 2011, the band has been back on a fairly regular basis with plenty of time between albums and tours for each member to pursue a solo career.

Stokes, Corrigan and the band’s followers continue to send love to cofounding member Pete Heimbold, who has been on hiatus from Dispatch since 2017, as he focuses on a personal battle with depression.

“It’s been a new chapter for us without Pete,” Stokes said. “He’s one of the original three. That’s been a little disorienting and sad in some ways, but with his blessing, we’ve been able to keep it going. We have two new records out and it’s a good season for Dispatch.”

Stokes began the Dispatch tradition of launching a series of local service projects in each city in which the band performs. He hatched the initiative with his band State Radio, formed when Dispatch was on a break in 2002.

In lieu of a traditional meet-and-greet, the members of Dispatch plan to join together with fans this Saturday for an afternoon of service and advocacy related to Portland-area causes and social issues taken up by the band.

All pre-show service project positions for Portland have been filled but the band encourages fans to pick up the torch and keep serving beyond this Saturday’s concert.

Dispatch has partnered with Rising Tide Brewing Company in Portland to host their official pre-show hangout on Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event will feature music, giveaways, a raffle for meet-and-greet passes for that night’s concert and the debut of a special Dispatch-themed brew called America, Location: Portland, expected to be available on draft and in cans all weekend.

“The outdoor vibe is pretty conducive to the Dispatch sound,” Stokes said of the Thompson’s Point show. “They’re down to earth and casual in the best way up in Maine. It’s a good feeling when we’re there.”

Tickets for Saturday’s Dispatch show with Moon Taxi at Thompson’s Point in Portland are available at www.ThompsonsPointMaine.com.

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