Brad Corrigan focuses on audience, music

Christine Beaderstadt

As I step into the open arena, I notice a small crowd gathered around a taller figure. I find a comfortable spot against the wooden wall that lines the small concert hall and wait patiently. As unnoticeable as a fly on the wall, I quietly watch as people flood in and out of the room, each sneaking a peak of the man dressed casually in a blue long-sleeved shirt. Nonchalantly, guitarist and singer-songwriter Brad Corrigan, more commonly known as Braddigan, talks easily with fans. They are obviously enamored of both him and his music. His charming personality flows from him naturally, easing many eager listeners. Braddigan has a calm but intensely energetic personality that appeases those who are anxious to meet him while simultaneously enticing those who are less zealous.
As I watch him meet fans, I notice that Braddigan devotes his attention to those he’s talking to. He has a way of making each fan feel like the only person in the room, when in reality he’s encircled by chaos, being flooded with eager questions and people shouting for his attention and autograph.
I check my watch for the second time that evening – the show is about to begin. I turn away from the stage, and notice a sea of people parting as Braddigan makes his way from the rear of the room to the stage. As he strolls forward, people clap him on the back and gush about their long-time devotion to his music. Onstage, Braddigan assumes a laidback, easygoing personality as he begins to strum his guitar, tuning for the first song. When he begins to play a familiar song, the audience joins in singing, much to Braddigan’s delight. After learning that a particularly dedicated fan drove three hours to see his performance in Chicago, he dedicates a song to him and shakes his hand in obvious appreciation.
Halfway through his performance, I glance around, gauging the audience with curiosity. I see several people coolly leaning against what little wall space there is left, smoking cigarettes, but most of the crowd is standing as close to the stage as possible, stiffly dancing to the beat of the bongos, drifting back and forth to the romantic sway of the music, nodding their heads in time to the unique sound of Braddigan’s drummer, Raymond de Jesus.
One thing is clear to every listener: whether they are familiar with Braddigan’s music from the bars he plays in or from a CD, he loves his music. However, his music comes with the price of working hard. When I asked him if his songwriting comes easily to him, he says, “It’s taken me two years to craft ten songs that I’m happy with. I go through periods where I don’t write anything for months, then have an enormous amount of creativity for a few weeks.”
Braddigan takes minimal credit for his musical work, especially on his most recently released album, “Watchfires.” “I feel like the album is a collection of the most beautiful musicians,” he says, “[It’s] all these gems thrown together and I just get to put my name on it.”
Braddigan also has aspirations other than cranking out albums. Taking several trips to Peru to teach children how to play the harmonica, he says, “I think the ultimate goal is to get kids to discover their passion. Period. Music is such an incredible way to reach people. I’m not a guy on a mission so much as a guy trying to be honest about what’s going on inside my head and heart. If people take an interest in that, that’s awesome. If they don’t, that’s OK.”
An artist is truly successful when he can capture people both on- and off-stage, and Braddigan has managed both quite well.

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