These days, with the world on fire, Teddy and The Rough Riders serve as essential workers, their latest LP– their first studio album– a perfect slice of aural therapy. Since 2017, the Nashville band has released a steady stream of singles, EPs, and one full-length, The Congress of Teddy and The Rough Riders. Their turnaround time between projects is brisk; however, a sense of urgency never figures its way into the music, each recording a meditative breather of interstellar country-rock bliss.
The Teddies– Jack Quiggins (guitar, vocals, and keys), Ryan Jennings (bass, guitar, vocals), and Luke Schneider (pedal steel and dobro)– are certified disciples of The Grateful Dead, The Band, and New Riders of the Purple Sage, and they do little to conceal their affections. Alongside these antecedents are also echoes of the concise and direct pop of Stiff Records icons Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds, roots-minded rockers who crafted taut choruses with purpose.
For some bands, this mishmash of influences might result in a worst-case worlds-collide scenario– consider the bar band covering Gram Parsons, Guns n Roses and Green Day, trying to appease the entire crowd– but The Teddies make it work, tempering jam-band convictions with melodies that wind a bit before finding the hook. Margo Price, who produced T&RR, believes the band could be Music City’s greatest hope for musical solidarity: “Teddy and the Rough Riders are one of my favorite Nashville bands, and, given the chance, they will unite the hippies and the cowboys, the bikers and the stoners with their groovy country songs.”
And there is groove. Lead track “Go Luck Kind”, “Rhinestone Salute”, and “Sunset” motor just above mid-tempo, gilded by good-time lead guitar but most of T&RR spaces out. “Broken Bridges”, “Livin in the Woods”, and “Complacency” are tethered just enough to remain around the 3-minute mark, offering a breeziness that belies the lyrics’ Walden-esque social critiques. The band never succumbs to sloganeering, but they don’t forget it’s 2022, either.
The album closes with “Hey Richard”, a tribute not only to Little Richard but also to Hank Williams and Buddy Holly. Here, The Teddies immortalize in song a should-be-infamous scene from Little Richard’s autobiography, The Life and Times of Little Richard, that involves The Architect of Rock n’ Roll, Holly, and Angel, Richard’s girlfriend. (Page 85, in my copy) Paraphrasing Richard, they sing, “He came and then he went,” an in-joke, for sure, but further evidence that The Teddies are genuine students of the music that moves them.