Calling All Crows 4th Annual Benefit Show @ Paradise 12.10.11
by Cara McGrath (Graphic Design), published December 20th 2011
photos by Alexandra Anfuso (Music Industry)
Some might think that seeing the same musician perform live for the eighth time would get repetitive. However, that was not the case for me when Chadwick Stokes took the stage at the 4th Annual Calling All Crows Benefit Show on December 10th. I had previously seen Stokes with his other bands, State Radio and Dispatch. But I had never seen him perform with his new band, The Pintos, with whom he finished touring on the 10th in promotion of his debut solo album, Simmerkane II. With a whole new batch of songs and many more instruments backing him than just the electric guitar, bass, and drums typical at a State Radio show, the concert was like none I had seen before.
Before Chadwick Stokes and The Pintos began their set at the Paradise Rock Club, two opening acts proved that they could get the crowd moving for a good cause. The Parkington Sisters, a four-girl family band from Massachusetts, started off the night with a lovely mix of violins, acoustic guitar, piano, and exquisite harmonies. Their versatility was impressive, switching instruments and the role of lead vocalist often.
Next came out The White Buffalo, a musician who was more familiar to the crowd. He took the stage with just his acoustic guitar and a bottle of beer. With fans shouting “Buffalo!” constantly through the set, he rocked so hard that he broke two strings in the length of one song.
Then came time for the act that everyone paid for. Chad ran out first in his button-down shirt, tie, and vest. He opened with “Calling All Crows,” an appropriate tune from State Radio’s most recent album, followed by “Flying Horses,” a Dispatch fan-favorite.
The Pintos joined Stokes on stage, starting with the third song of the set. In addition to the front man, the band is made up of five members who play everything from electric guitar to the flute and trombone. The new voices complimented Chad’s very well, especially those of Chad’s brother, Willy, keyboardist Sedgie Ogilvy, and special guest Darren Buck, an old friend of Chad’s. With The Pintos, Chadwick performed the first four tracks, in order, off of Simmerkane II.
Catching everyone by surprise, everybody but Chad and Willy Urmston left the stage. The two brothers sang an unreleased song, “Josephine,” based on a true story from their train-hopping journeys. After a couple of acoustic State Radio songs, and two more songs with The Pintos, The White Buffalo returned from his place in the crowd to sing harmoniously alongside Chad and his band during “Black Bottle.”
The final song of the set was “All My Possessions,” dedicated to Troy Davis who was recently put to death by the state of Georgia after more than twenty years on death row, and to Troy’s sister, who passed away not more than a week before the concert. The band really put their hearts and souls into this one.
Shocking none of the concert-goers, Stokes returned to the cheering crowd for an encore. What was a surprise, though, was the song choice: “The Story of Benjamin Darling, Part One,” a rarely performed State Radio song. Chad picked a perfect occasion to play the song; supported by the Parkington Sisters on violin and vocals, it couldn’t have sounded any better. After “Coffee and Wine,” the night ended with the ever-popular Dispatch song, “Elias,” which successfully finished out the evening with a bang.
So, to say the least, no matter how many times I see Chad Stokes perform, I am always in for a treat. Chadwick’s stage presence and versatility are truly incredible. Whether you are a die-hard fan or not, it is indisputable that his experience as a performer, which dates back to over fifteen years ago, is very apparent. Stokes kept the crowd’s interest by alternating between solo acoustic songs, songs with his band, and ones accompanied by special guests. It was very different to see and hear Chad play acoustic guitar for an entire set, but he rocked just as hard as he does when he shreds on his electric. Despite the fact that The Pintos were formed recently, they sounded better together than many longtime bands I have seen live. And of course, being a charity event, fans went home happy knowing that 100% of the concert’s proceeds went to two shelters in Afghanistan. Thanks to the hard work of Chadwick Stokes and Sybil Gallagher, over $28,000 was raised.