Dispatch singer holds acoustic jam session at QU

Mike McKenna

Pete Francis, former bassist and vocalist of the band Dispatch, played a short acoustic set at QU last Tuesday at an event that also featured prize giveaways and a brief clip from the band’s new two-disc CD/DVD, “All Points Bulletin,” due out Nov. 9.

Along with band mates Brad Corrigan and Chad Urmston, Dispatch formed in the mid-90s and grew from having a regional college radio-based following into an underground cult sensation playing their high-energy mix of rock, funk and reggae.

QU students entertained an audience of about 200 with acoustic renditions of their favorite Dispatch tunes. Members of WQAQ played a sneak peek of the band’s forthcoming DVD, including a clip of a live version of “Forgiven,” played at the band’s final show on July 31, 2004. The concert took place at the Hatch Shell in Boston, Mass. and attracted well over 100,000 fans, causing the city to shut down many bridges and entrances into the area.

Dispatch reps gave away prizes including band T-shirts, LPs and even a coveted piece of the Dispatch wall, constructed at the Hatch Shell show, which featured artwork by dedicated fans. Prizes were given away for answering various trivia questions about the band. Later in the evening, the small group of winners from trivia questions competed for the grand prize of a copy of the unreleased CD/DVD.

The crowd was beginning to become restless around 9:30 p.m., but grew ecstatic when Francis arrived, comfortably wearing a green tee, jeans and a spiffy black-rimmed suit hat. He played a total of four songs: “Burning the River,” a track off of Francis’ solo album, “Untold,” “Town On Top of Town,” “Small Change” and “Carry You.” A few lucky students even got to play along on a couple of tunes with Francis, who carefully instructed the student guitarists how to play the correct notes. The crowd remained quiet and intent during the set, but gave roaring applause at the end of each song.

After the show, Francis conducted a brief meet and greet with students to sign merchandise, snap some photos and just to talk to his fans, whom Francis made feel more like his friends. In a short interview after the show, Francis said, “This kind of a show is important to do in order to keep it real with our true fans. It’s important for us to give back to the people who have supported us and listened to us throughout the years.”

When asked what kind of advice he had for Dispatch fans, Francis laughed, and after pondering for a moment said, “Just be real and keep working on projects you love, and know that when you collaborate on things it can be a beautiful experience. Collaboration is important because you can learn a lot about others, and about yourself.”