Braddigan Begins Again

Last weekend’s busy 225th Anniversary celebration was jam-packed with events, and despite the hubbub surrounding the arrival of former U.S. President George Bush ’42 on campus, the real anticipation of Saturday night for the student body was the AIDS benefit concert featuring Braddigan, a band starring guitarist-vocalist Brad Corrigan, formerly of the popular band Dispatch. Proceeds from the show, played before a large crowd in the Borden Gym, went to the Corpus Christi AIDS Residence and Lazarus House Ministries in Lawrence. The show was opened by up-and-coming campus band Steal Your Face, who played a seven-song set, much to the delight of the audience. Lead singer and saxophone player Jon Weigel ’05 got the crowd going early with songs such as “Under the Bridge,” “What I Got,” and “The Farmhouse.” Jesse Seegers ’05 played guitar masterfully through every song, as did Nate Greenberg ’05 on bass guitar. Jami Makan ’04 played drums for the group’s second performance on campus, the first being at Rabbot Cabaret in January. The band’s three original songs were very easy to listen to, with simple lyrics and a positive message. When Weigel started playing the soprano saxophone during an original, “24601,” the crowd went wild. Steal Your Face proved to all attending that they are the next big thing on campus. Although there were some technical difficulties with microphones, the opening act went very well, getting the crowd pumped up for the main event: Braddigan. The concert by Braddigan was highly energetic, personal, and for the most part, improvised. Corrigan, who has been playing with percussionist Ray for a little more than a month, had only a small number of songs actually written down. For most of the concert, he made up the music and words as he went along, to the surprise and enjoyment of all. His lyrics, though not compelling, were catchy, and provided the audience with a feel-good vibe, often taking on a spiritual undertone. Corrigan played acoustic guitar throughout the whole show, much to the surprise of the audience. Having been lauded as the breathtaking drummer-vocalist of Dispatch, some students were disappointed that Corrigan only took up the drums for a brief percussive session midway through the show. His guitar skills were perfect for the type of music he played: basic chord combinations with little to no finger picking. And although these skills came off as up to par, they were nothing compared to his percussive expertise. Corrigan, who started his musical career with the guitar, moved to drums with Dispatch and has now gone, in his own words, “back to basics.” Once he and Ray got going, the show took on a very personal and casual feeling, with students packed in right up to the stage. Ray’s impressive percussion on bongos and other hand drums complemented Corrigan’s homey acoustic guitar. For many songs, Corrigan invited the audience to join in, calling back lyrics. This alternative singing had a great impact on the audience, which was really able to feel connected with the performers. “Music is about what’s going on in [the audience’s] minds,” said Corrigan in a post-show interview. “It’s all about the audience.” His uplifting words and soulful advice and anecdotes throughout the show truly confirmed this sentiment. Corrigan gave backgrounds behind many of his songs, enabling the audience to feel the power of the words and connect with him even more. Since Dispatch broke up, Corrigan has participated in a number of projects. The first was the “Under the Radar” DVD, which he himself produced and directed. This DVD documentary of Dispatch featured performances, as well as stories and interviews with the band, a project that Corrigan toured with around the country for much of 2002. Additionally, Corrigan did some work on “The Outsiders,” a surfing film produced by Walking On Water, a Christian surfing organization. A self-proclaimed “musician, wanna-be surfer, and Christian,” he wrote and performed music for the film, touring and performing all over the country before returning to the East Coast to start a solo act. Touring primarily colleges and high schools, Braddigan is making a name for itself, impacting students throughout the country. Braddigan’s pure and emotionally charged voice filled the Borden Gym with melodic perfection throughout the night. He put his extensive range and perfect pitch to good use during the show, giving PA students an evening filled with musical euphoria. The drums and guitar really showed off his amazing voice as his passion and intensity filled the lyrics with energy. In perhaps the most amusing part of the night, an alumnus later identified as Beau ’49 danced the night away behind the stage, joining Braddigan on stage for a brief kudos to his carefree and lively dancing. Beau revealed to Corrigan and the rest of the audience that he was the captain of the ’49 football team, and beat Exeter in a game which former President Bush also attended. Everyone at the concert was more surprised than intrigued at these random anecdotes from Beau, and Corrigan was very courteous and respectful to him, though he could not expect what Beau would do next. He brought his miniature dog on stage with him and introduced him to Corrigan as “Old Man’s Folly.” Whether or not it was the dog’s real name may never be revealed to those attending the concert, but Braddigan later commented that it was the “craziest and coolest thing I’ve ever seen.” Morissa Sobelson ’05 organized the charity aspect of the event. The Corpus Christi AIDS Residence is a place where homeless individuals who have been diagnosed with AIDS may take refuge. Tickets for the concert were distributed as AIDS ribbons to enhance AIDS awareness and to cap off the AIDS seminars that have been going on throughout the school for the past few weeks. All of the proceeds went to this worthy charity, providing concertgoers with great music while helping out people in need. Near the end of the post-show interview, Corrigan said that if Dispatch were ever to reunite, it would never be the same as it was before. “Friendships were on the edge,” said Corrigan. He and the other two members of Dispatch were “friends before band mates.” In his final statement, Corrigan said optimistically, “I hope it’s not finished yet.” Steal Your Face proved that they are a legitimate campus band, and Braddigan proved that he still could do it, even without Dispatch. Although the concert was met with mixed feelings from the audience, it was a great way to wind down from the stressful week and bring a delightful close to the festivities of the 225th Anniversary weekend.