Banana, Addison ‘ Dispatch: Live on Stage

By Peter Blandino


Calvin Theatre

October 21

A fervent gathering of youth from the five-college area assembled last Sunday night at King Street in North Hampton. Anticipation shook the walls of the Calvin Theatre, flooding the modestly sized venue with sizzling vibrations.

Resonating their jazzy funk through the bones of the jiving crowd, Addison Groove Project opened up the show with a fiery performance. Hailing from Beantown, Addison Groove entwines the improvisational jamming of the Grateful Dead with a soulful rhythm characteristic of James Brown. The combination of jazz and funk, highlighted by the radiant stage presence of alto saxophonist John Hall, mirrors the same confluence of musical elements mastered by Deep Banana Blackout.

But Addison Groove Project is lacking where DBB thrives. Hope Clayburn’s striking vocals, in addition to her stunning manipulation of the saxophone and the flute, add a certain intangibility to Deep Banana

Blackout, making them one of the most successful bands to emerge from the Northeast. Conversely, AGP’s Brendan McGinn’s uninspired and dull vocals created a sizeable void in an otherwise fulfilling set. McGinn’s performance had the audience thankful that Addison Groove Project’s music focuses more on instrumental worth and less on the lyrics. All things considered, the powerful horns, backed by John Hall’s stunning display, led the way in a performance packed with funk that affectively got the crowd grooving in time for the main attraction.

The Dispatch sound plants its roots in different genres, creating a sound that continues to prosper in today’s music scene. With transitions from jazz to reggae to hip-hop, the band keeps its audience in suspense. The funky bass work of Pete Heimbold will have one jiving to reggae reminiscent of Bob Marley and the Wailers. The guitar work and vocals of Chad Urmston will fill your head with a “sublime” high. The tri-vocalists show their multi-faceted talents by switching instruments for a change in pace. Brad Corrigan emerges from behind his drums to perform dazzling guitar solos as Pete replaces his bass to strum acoustic melodies, and Urmston pounds out the beat on percussion. The versatility of Dispatch produces a flowing set that is constantly shifting from one style to another.

With the release of a new live album entitled Gut the Van on the horizon, Dispatch was fired up for the show. Early in the set, John Hall resurfaced with saxophone in hand for a jazzed up version of “Bang Bang,” the title track of the 1997-released album. The remainder of the show consisted partly of tunes from the same album, including “Here We Go,” and a crowd-pleasing performance of “Out Loud” that flowed into a medley of classic Bob Marley songs. Throughout the set, Dispatch played to the crowd. Pete Heimbold honored the mainly UMass-comprised crowd for their energy and support. Boston native Chad Urmston praised Ray Bourque for his Stanley Cup victory, garnering a huge response from the crowd. The show was highlighted by a soothing version of “Cover This” that featured the glowing vocals of both Urmston and Corrigan, and Heimbold’s melodious strumming of the acoustic guitar. The conclusion of the show saw the crowd eagerly singing along to the popular hit, “General,” followed by an intense encore presentation of “Bats in the Belfry.”

Fans in attendance witnessed a terrific show, but I for one am reluctant to say that Dispatch has the potential of reaching luminary status. There is no doubt that this young trio is one of the most naturally gifted and talented bands on the scene, but they lack in originality, and above all, powerful lyrics. Their sound is derived from many great artists, but upon hearing it, one might believe he or she is listening to OAR or Dave Matthews. Dispatch has yet to display anything groundbreaking or especially innovative in their live performances or in their five previously released albums. Lyrically, Dispatch fills their songs with repetitive ideas and trite expressions. These weaknesses should not hinder the young musicians to the top in today’s music scene, but they will prevent them from leaving the impact on the industry as such legends including The Doors, Bob Dylan, and Sublime.