December 12, 2014
CAB finished off the semester’s trio of performances last Thursday night with Chadwick Stokes and Adrianne & Buck. The two acts embodied the folk sensibility that acoustic coffeehouse is known for, and were a fitting cap to a semester that included such diverse acts as veteran singer Shakey Graves and new voice Marc Scibilia.
Adrianne & Buck, each strapped with an acoustic guitar, played deftly throughout their set. Buck Meeks’ low-mid crooning spilled over Adrianne Lenker’s phantom warbling, and both were sustained by a plucky pick-style and warm musical tones. This configuration worked well for the twosome. The themes were those of traditional folk: celebration of the song, love lost and won, the city glow, the country dark and the people who are along for the ride. Together, the two musicians had a resounding, full sound that conveyed a deep appreciation for American folk.
After Adrianne & Buck’s set, Chadwick Stokes (frontman for State Radio, a band out of Boston) took the stage. Though it was a small gathering in the barn, Stokes is no stranger to large crowds. In 2001, with his indie band Dispatch, he played a show to over 100,000 at Boston’s Hatch Shell.
Stokes cultivates a bizarre on-stage aesthetic. He has a professorial shock of hair and face that evoke Robert Plant if he abandoned rock-and-roll to live in the wild. The music was similar in theme to the opening act. Stokes sang of places in his travels, of trains and deserts, of shallow graves and chance encounters with women. His lyrics are adept at construing characters and images. Together, they create vivid stories that ignite the imagination. Stokes’ anecdotes—though a bit overdone—enhanced his act by providing background on each song.
Stokes is also a philanthropist and activist for social-rights issues the world over. He sang a song about the eruption of racial conflict in Ferguson and the country at large. His loud guitar riffs served to amplify the emotional content of the song’s lyrics.
Most of Stokes’ songs evaded easy genre classification. Songs like “Our Lives Our Time” and “I Want You Like A Seatbelt,” were somewhere at the intersection of folk, Americana, indie, and classic rock.
Chadwick Stokes put on a great show and closed out an even better series of concerts. You can check out his latest goings-on at www.stateradio.com. His second solo-album, “The Horse Comanche,” is due out early next year. Adrianne Lenker and Buck Meek’s digital albums a-sides and b-sides are currently available on Bandcamp for $10 apiece.