Issue 25 . July 2001 

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washington, d.c.'s
the ted hovis band

“Don’t call me if you suck” read the tag line of an ad Ted Hovis placed in the Washington, DC City Paper when he was looking for artists to join his new project, the Ted Hovis Band. Why would Ted, who normally comes off as a nice guy, write such a thing? Because, to put it flatly, Ted doesn’t suck.

A performer since the age of sixteen, Ted was looking for big-gun talent. And the musicians he found from the City Paper ad fit the bill. Bass player Doug Coppock is a rare animal, able to steal the limelight from a lead rock star. With a stunning smile that every female I’ve brought to see their show has noticed, Doug sways in rhythm with each chord he plucks, causing eyes in the audience to drift away from Ted. Not that Eric Sanford (percussion), Jamie Kowalski (keys, guitars) or Greg Sales (drums) don’t have their eye-catching moments as well. Coupling their instrumental talents with duty on backing vocals, each of these guys also has a way of capturing the attention of people who just came to hear the beauty of ‘Change in Progress’, THB’s 2000 debut EP.

Good-looking guys playing good-sounding music is less than half of the story. As with the Dave Matthews Band (DMB), Ted, an exceptional lead singer and guitarist, walked a winding journey to being a frontman. Spending a summer in Madrid, Spain singing Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, and Pink Floyd covers, Ted had learned that he could carry a tune. It wasn’t until his time with Washington, DC’s Fetish, on the album ‘Follow The Daisy’, that Ted’s floating petal of a voice seemed to all but carry ballads such as “Desperation,” “Drone,” and “Brainless Child.” In 1999, after almost four years of “marriage,” Ted departed the band, and has since taken time to find his voice. Or at least trip over it. Not that Ted was forcibly limited during his time with Fetish. Before moving to California, critically acclaimed Fetish frontman Richie Wirz constantly remarked on Ted’s ability as both a guitarist and singer.

Fetish was a band that happened ten years too late and in the wrong city. Before every radio station was owned by a large corporate entity, Fetish’s music appealed to a fan base of people that were devoted Smiths and Cure fans. Unfortunately, before the scene built itself, not many knew about Fetish, and the DC mix of funky bass and distinct guitar work never took off.

As Doug does now, Ted had a way of standing out during his years with Fetish. For one, no one ever knew what his hair would look like from one gig to another. A graphic artist, Ted constantly flexes artistic sensibility, and everything he touches has flair, from his clothes to the flyers he creates for THB. Musically, THB bears little resemblance to DMB. But even a casual observers can’t help but draw parallels. Ted doesn’t really like the title of his band any more than Dave Matthews likes the name for his. (A little pop history: the name the “Dave Matthews Band” was a prank played by one of the other band members to embarrass Dave one night.) Ted readily admits that each of his bandmates teach him something every time they play together, in practice or at gigs.

Another former Fetish band mate, Eric Sanford has brought some consistency to Ted’s new band. Now on guitars and vocals, Ted is growing into the role he was born to play, and his bandmates are using their talent to highlight each other’s strengths. On ‘Change In Progress’ Ted performs all vocals, guitar and bass, his talent captured in its entirely. Most accessible is “Birdsong,” the third track of six. Ted uses metaphor to describe dependency and captivity among people and animals alike. Through songwriting, Hovis puts a degree in creative writing to good use.

“Anyone But Me” might sound like Radiohead at first listen, but more listens reveal original depth and feel. By the end of the song, Ted’s floating voice delivers lyrics that evoke an enlightening day, and “Only For Now”’s guitar work, vocals, and lyrics are recorded with a little bit of reverb, taking you right to that place inside you haven’t talked about since your heart was last broken. “Change in Progress” will stand as the turning point for the careers of Ted Hovis and those that stay in his band. Having played their first gig opening for Chris Barron (formerly of the Spin Doctors), THB has already begun fielding recording-contract offers. It’s a band that’s a good measure for the DC and mid-Atlantic music scene. Pigeonholing their music is a waste of time. THB’s sound is always changing, growing, and becoming. To put it mildly, they don’t suck.

>>Relevant Info:
booking: Ted at 703.273.7704 or 703.217.7847
website: www.tedhovis.com
e-mail: tdhovis@aol.com

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