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Pete Francis brings solo funk, jam to Legends

Brian Doxtader | Thursday, November 9, 2006

Take a shower, shine your shoes, you’ve got no time to lose because Pete France is playing at Legends on Saturday. It will be the musician’s first time performing at Notre Dame, a venue he actively sought out.

“As a matter of fact, Pete came to us,” said Aaron Perri, general manager of Legends.

According to Perri, Francis was looking for a gig in the area, and e-mailed Legends about possibly performing in South Bend on Notre Dame’s campus.

“I think it says a lot about Legends,” Perri said. “A high-profile artist like Francis coming to us shows that we’ve become the ‘must-play’ venue in the area.”

Francis was a member of the Boston-based band Dispatch between 1995 and 2004. Comprised of Francis (under his full name, Peter Francis Heimbold), Brad Corrigan and Chad Urm-ston, Dispatch first came to national prominence in 1996 with the release of their debut album, “Silent Steeples,” which showcased their unique reggae/jam blend. Francis was only in his early 20s at the time. Their follow-up, “Bang Bang,” was well-received and featured one of their most well-known songs, “The General.”

Dispatch combined elements of acoustic-pop, folk and rock, with touches of reggae and funk. The band was notable for its musicianship, as members switched instruments and vocal duties from song-to-song. Francis is an accomplished singer, bassist and guitarist and has been featured on both instruments. Dispatch’s triple harmonies and jam band tendencies made them a fan favorite, and they regularly played to sold-out shows across the nation.

After the band decided to take an extended hiatus in 2001, Francis staked out on his own, releasing his solo album “Untold” in 2003. Dispatch officially broke up later that year, and their farewell concert, performed at the Hatch Shell in Boston, was attended by roughly 110,000 fans. Francis is currently touring to promote “Everything Is One,” which was released earlier this year.

Francis solo work often resembles his material with Dispatch, with creative touches and showcases of his musicianship. His first two albums are softer, more refined and more contemplative than Dispatch, which demonstrates that they are clearly the work of a solo artist, rather than a band. Yet the sense of songwriting and craft that made Dispatch so successful is evident on both “Untold” and “Everything Is One,” alleviating concerns that Francis has lost his touch.

The singer-songwriter will be bringing a full backing band and is expected to perform both songs by Dispatch and his own material. He will likely play the most famous songs from his Dispatch years, such as “The General” and will also probably play hits from “Everything Is One.”

Perri says that he expects the show to be well-received and well-attended, which means it will likely fill Legends’ 629-person capacity.

“A show like this, with someone like Francis, usually plays to a packed house,” Perri remarked.

Perri also noted that Francis is part of a solid Fall lineup at Legends, which included former Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland and Tally Hall, among others. Perri stressed that Legends is committed to keeping their shows free.

“You could go to Chicago and see Pete Francis and it would cost you $40,” Perri said. “Or, if you’re a student, you can see it here for free.”

Pete Francis will be one of Legends biggest shows of the semester, and should provide an evening’s worth of great music. The concert begins at 10 p.m.