Chris Carrabba
Chris Carrabba
Photo by David Bean

Dashboard Confessional's Chris Carrabba Prepares for an Emotional Parkland Benefit Show

It’s been quite a year for Chris Carrabba. In February, his band Dashboard Confessional released its first album in nearly nine years, Crooked Shadows. It’s everything you’d imagine from a reemerged Dashboard. There are hints of romance, reflection, and classic angst, all conveyed in a slightly poppier and more modernized style than he's employed in past work.

“It’s been invigorating, exciting, and kind of shocking to come back,” says Carrabba, Dashboard’s lead singer and guitarist. “We’ve been playing live the last couple of years... and going back and forth on whether or not we’d make this record. We wanted it to be a great record, and we do feel that way about it now.”

Behind the scenes, Carrabba’s folksier and Americana-to-the-core side project, Twin Forks, is working on a new record that’s nearly three-quarters of the way complete.

“We had some steam and could have — or perhaps should have — released another album on the heels of our last record,” Carrabba says of Twin Forks’ 2014 self-titled LP. “But [Twin Forks] is really a passion project. We’re all mindful of how great we want whatever’s next to be.”

Amid all that is new, Carrabba is finding time to pause and help a community he loves to heal. He’s a 1994 grad of Boca Raton High, attended Florida Atlantic University, and, though he spends a good chunk of his time in Nashville these days, still considers South Florida home.

Like so many, he was shaken by the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

“In this case, I had a girlfriend that lived near Douglas when I was growing up,” he says. “The guys in New Found Glory are my best friends... they went there, and I was there a lot. Years later, I know teachers and counselors there. And sadly, I do know someone that lost a child in that horrific moment.”

Friday, May 16, at the Pompano Beach Amphitheater, Carrabba will play an intimate acoustic set for #ParklandStrong, a benefit for the victims and survivors of the tragedy. He'll be joined by New Found Glory as well as Yellowcard frontman and Jacksonville native Ryan Key. Proceeds from ticket sales, concessions, merchandise, and sponsorships will be donated to the official Broward Education Foundation Stoneman Douglas Victims’ Fund.

“I feel a sense of honor to have been invited to stand with this community that I’m from and a part of,” Carrabba says. “For me, personally, and I don’t really know how to verbalize this, but there are times where there is no question when you’re going to do something... or help. This is one of those moments.”

Amid all that has happened, including the recent murders at a Waffle House in Nashville, Carrabba is hopeful for a brighter tomorrow.

“I’m totally inspired by these young adults,” he says. “[At the show], none of us will be there to have our music celebrated. All I can do is sing songs, but I do have a chance to talk a little bit about the heroism. There is heroism in the moment. That moment of terror was horrible, and we saw heroes. And now these kids that are effecting change are just as much heroes as anyone else. They are going to save us one day.”

#ParklandStrong. With New Found Glory, Chris Carrabba, and Ryan Key. 6 p.m. Friday, May 16, at Pompano Beach Amphitheater, 1806 NE Sixth St., Pompano Beach; 954-946-2402; theamppompano.org. Tickets cost $25 via axs.com.

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