Bradley J. Corrigan marches to the beat of a different drummer. Or, more accurately, he marches to the beat of his own drums. A Colorado native born in Denver in 1974, he’s a member of the indie jam band Dispatch. When not touring with the band that has performed in about 50 countries, Corrigan still calls the Mile High City home. He credits the Boulder-based band the Samples as his first influence as a musician.
Corrigan plays drums and guitar, writes songs and sings for Dispatch, a band that has produced six full-length LPs and sold out prominent venues including Red Rocks, Radio City Music Hall and Madison Square Garden.
“We were the first independent band to headline Madison Square Garden, and we ended up selling it out three nights in a row in 2007, and then again two nights in 2015,” Corrigan says.
“They put up a really cool plaque and picture of us in their ring of fame. We've been super blessed to have some really exciting experiences with some unique firsts along the way too.”
A case in point: On July 4, 2004, the band drew as many as 160,000 people to an outdoor concert in Boston. Closer to home, Corrigan’s dream venue is Red Rocks. And years before taking the stage as a headliner with Dispatch, he did some dreaming in the world-famous natural amphitheater.
“Ahhh, Red Rocks: just nothing like it. A huge gift in being an artist with Colorado roots is that heavenly cathedral of rock up there in the hills,” he says. “I remember going up there with my high school band, the WoodRiver Bandits, and taking our press photos up there, and then eating a picnic on the stage dreaming, dreaming dreaming: some day!
“And then in the earliest days of Dispatch when we were recording our first album ‘Silent Steeples’ in Northglenn, Chad Urmston, Pete Heimbold and I went to one of the early Fourth of July Blues Traveler shows with the Boulder-based Zuba opening up. And there we were dreaming, dreaming.”
Dreams came true. “In June of 2011, we played Red Rocks to kick off our first summer tour in many moons and got to play three nights in a row. It was so epic I could barely catch my breath before taking the stage,” Corrigan says.
Dispatch sold out Red Rocks again in 2016, and again this past June. “It’s a true gem and treasure to have all the dreams invested up there and then getting to make noise and sing and hear the echoes off the rocks.”
Before taking the stage, Corrigan ritually takes 30 minutes alone for breath work. Then he meets up with the band to review the concert set list and share some laughs to get in synch. As he takes the stage, he says his prevailing emotion is gratitude. Before heading to his drum kit, he pauses a moment to connect with the audience.
“It’s just such a God-given gift to get to make music, and to know all of the effort our fans make to come and fill the venues with so much energy, light and joy,” he says. “It’s humbling to feel that love.”
Corrigan’s notion of harmony extends far beyond the stage and into the world. He founded a non-government organization titled Love Light + Melody in 2007, after a life-altering meeting with a young girl living in a trash dump in Managua, Nicaragua. Corrigan continues to oversee the NGO. Also in 2007, he helped found the Dispatch Foundation to raise money and awareness for Zimbabwe, then the world’s poorest country. In 2009, he co-founded Lacrosse the Nations in Nicaragua, using the sport to uplift kids and promote education.”
Corrigan emulated social justice mentors in the music business: “Bono certainly has been an influence, and Rage against the Machine with their political protest, the Beastie Boys with their Freedom in Tibet festival,” he says.
“We love hosting service projects during our Dispatch tours so that we can work and serve alongside our fans in a meaningful way. With our fans, the music unifies us, passion amplifies us, and love multiplies us. There’s so much goodness and genuine joy from our fans coming together with service projects and volunteering swirling around each city and show,” he says.
“It’s a beautiful vibe, the music as the glue that holds us together as one. And in this day and age to feel like we’re able to help bring people together in some small way despite all our differences, what a gift that is,” he says.
For Corrigan, philanthropy enriches music. “I think music should always have a deeper source so fans can go as deep as they want to scratch. If it's social justice, there is an art to how that is presented. You just can't assume every fan wants to go there, but we give every fan the opportunity to journey there with us if they so choose,” he says.
One of Corrigan’s deeper sources is his family, particularly his father and grandfather, both of whom modeled service to others.
Currently, Corrigan channels his humanitarian efforts toward two Love Light + Melody projects: Ileana’s School of Hope, and a documentary film titled “Ileana’s Smile,” named for the Nicaraguan child he met in the trash dump. “There’s a seven-minute film trailer on our Love Light + Melody website so people can learn more about Ileana’s short, bold, and beautiful life and her growing legacy of inspiration,” he says.
Corrigan is a bachelor, though in a relationship. He has no biological children, but considers himself “spiritual papa” to kids assisted through his philanthropy, particularly those in Nicaragua and Native American youngsters in Pine Ridge, SD.
Colorado continues to influence Corrigan’s music, filmmaking, and philanthropy. “Colorado can be such a beautiful and mysterious place the further you drive, wander, and go off the grid,” he says. “I learned how to appreciate the pursuit of beauty and adventure by growing up in Colorado. That informed much of my artistic process.”
Clearly, Corrigan is inspired and inspiring. He’s a man of passionate music and sport—“Go, Broncos!” he says—as well as a man of deep spirit and unabashed faith. “The deepest source of my inspiration is the joy of finding relationship and friendship where you’d least likely expect it,” he says, “and the radical, counter-cultural, all-inclusive love of Jesus.”
To learn more about Brad Corrigan’s philanthropic work or touring, visit lovelightandmelody.org and dispatchmusic.com. His efforts have raised $2.2 million raised in the past 11 years, with donations to a school, countless scholarships, food centers, the founding of a safehouse for at-risk girls, and hosting seven annual Day of Light music festivals with art and sports to enrich the lives of kids living in poverty.
Corrigan delivers his “What does your heart beat for?” to schools, youth and church groups His current project is producing a documentary film titled “Ileana’s Smile” and building a school in Ileana’s honor in Managua, Nicaragua.
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