Crowdsourcing the Music With Chad Stokes

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Why you should care

Because music can and should be a communal experience.

You might recognize that crisp-toned voice from his other hugely popular bands, Dispatch and State Radio, but on this night in San Francisco, Chad Stokes is playing songs from his new solo album, The Horse Comanche, out this February. As the frontman for his other bands, Stokes has sold out Madison Square Garden multiple times, but this time around he’s working on a very different scale. He’s been workshopping this album’s songs in a cross-country living room tour, playing for audiences on couches, refining the work and spending many nights sleeping in a tent under the stars. Whatever glamor this independent musician’s life might be lacking, it more than makes up for it in adventure and the generosity of fans, who feed the band, invite in dozens of people and even join in the music-making.

The Horse Comanche includes some of Stokes’ most personal work yet, but it’s also informed by a distinct political point of view. Writing political songs is “cathartic,” Stokes says, but that release isn’t enough on its own. Which is why he founded the nonprofit group Calling All Crows, which brings bands and fans together at every tour stop to perform local community service or raise funds for global causes.

Watch him talk about how life on the road feeds into his creative process in the video above, and see him perform “Pine Needle Tea,” “The General” and “Hazy Maze” in the videos below.

This OZY encore was originally published Dec. 8, 2014.

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