Since the Anniston band The Storydwellers hit the Calhoun and Etowah County music scenes in December of 2017, they’ve racked up an ever-growing list of fans and venues that continuously welcome them back with open arms. They’ve taken the stages of The Peerless Saloon, Coldwater Mountain Brewpub, Rack and Roll Billiards, Darkhorse Saloon, Nola on Second, Blackstone Pub, and even graced venues out of state like Wild Leap Brewery and Brick House in Lagrange, Georgia. Wherever they end up, they infuse their upbeat pop rock covers (interspersed with a handful of originals written by lead singer Ted Tedder) with energetic, soulful grit.
The band’s name originated with Ted, who would jot down lyrics and ideas for songs in a notebook. “I remember writing down, ‘I don’t tell stories, I dwell in them. I am a storydweller.’” He labeled that line “band name,” and shared, “I basically always knew I would use it when I found the right band. Then I found the right band.” The original band of three–Ted Tedder on lead vocals/guitar/harmonica, Andrew Harper on drums and backup vocals, and Ralph Wheeler on lead guitar and backup vocals–formed once Ted met Ralph, who was bartending at Rack and Roll Billiards. Andrew, who already knew Ted, had attended Jacksonville High School with Ralph, where they both took part in various parts of the music program–Ralph playing saxophone and Andrew covering percussion and drums. The night Ted first met Ralph, he first noticed the F-hole tattoos running up each of his forearms, seen most often in violins and cellos. But Ralph chose that design because of his admiration of semi-hollow-bodied electric guitars which sport the same classic cut-outs. Ted said to himself, “I bet that guy plays guitar,” and they soon struck up a friendship that led to forming a band.
The original Storydwellers was an acoustic trio, with Andrew backing up Ted’s acoustic rhythm guitar and Ralph’s lead guitar with bongo and conga drums and other types of percussion. They grew their setlist with covers ranging from the 1970s to the present. “One thing about our band, I think, that kind of separates us from everybody is our setlist. We’re so all over the board from Pink Floyd to Johnny Cash to Widespread Panic to CeeLo Green. There’s just no telling–we’ve got a lot of material, it’s just so diverse, but everywhere we go, they’re like, ‘Thank God ya’ll aren’t country!’ We hear that all the time,” Ted laughed. Other bands they cover include The Rolling Stones, Eagles, Stone Temple Pilots, Blind Melon, Guns N’ Roses, Lenny Kravitz, Grateful Dead, Bon Jovi, U2, and more.
When I got to sit down with the band for a chat last Friday night, March 24, it was a special night for the band. They were not only performing but celebrating the birthday of their newest member–bassist Doug White. While Doug has been a music lover his whole life, he only recently picked up the bass. He shared, “A friend of mine, Nick Bowles, introduced me to the bass guitar. He told me a few things about it, and I got to play on his for a few weeks, and I was like, wow, this is something I can do. I really enjoy this!” He okayed it with his wife before purchasing his own bass guitar. That was around November of 2021, and from that point on he soaked up everything he could find online to help build on the music foundation he’d laid. He joked, “I’m so glad I learned when I did because back in the day when these guys learned, like before Youtube, it had to be so much harder! Now there’s such a wealth of information right at your fingertips.” Doug also had help from another local musician who plays with the Rattlesnake Rattlers–their bassist Trevor Stewart. Doug had already been long-time friends with both Ted and Ralph, so it was natural that when they heard Doug had taken up the bass, he was invited to jam with them. From there, the band’s “story” has evolved even further.
The Peerless was packed with family, friends, and random locals ready to enjoy the bands’ tight groove. Andrew, whose drumming style was influenced by greats like Stewart Copeland of the Police and John Bonham of Led Zeppelin, let loose in driving rhythmic form on rock classics like Lenny Kravitz’s “Fly Away” and “Twilight Zone” by the 80’s band Golden Earring. Ralph, whose early guitar influences include The Beatles and The Beach Boys, ripped through famous rock solos of classics like “Hotel California” or added stirring angst on “Wish You Were Here.” Ted’s crooning voice was the perfect fit for recreating that haunting melody penned by Pink Floyd, or balancing abrasion with polish on a classic like “Dead or Alive.” But his voice is not the only thing framing these songs–Tedder can play that mean acoustic opening riff like a pro, or wail on his blues harp high above the other funk-laden competing accompaniment. Doug’s confident, rhythmic bass is the perfect cementing ingredient to round out this power-house of a band.
While the band has featured some of Ted’s originals in their sets that he wrote years earlier like “Gasoline & Matches,” “Devil’s Harley,” and “Mr. Illusive,” he envisions the band holding their own songwriting retreat in a cabin on Mt. Cheaha to bang out new originals that the entire band can take play a part in creating. When asked about favorite times with the band, Andrew shared that he loves it when the band is able to motivate listeners to get up and dance to the music, young and old. And when they play in family-friendly venues, kids not only love to move to the music, but they also enjoy putting tips in the colorful Baby Yoda tip bucket. Doug particularly enjoys playing locally, saying, “This is the people that I know. We’re really a close-knit group of people that play music in this area. This community is filled with wonderfully talented, good people-musicians.”
While you can check their music page for continued bookings in Calhoun County, Etowah, and beyond, The Storydwellers are also looking to branch out into festivals and other special events. One such is the upcoming US Canine Biathlon at Ft. McClellan May 21-22. The Storydwellers will be part of the event’s festivities. Be sure to take your soonest opportunity of enjoying the hip down-to-earth music that this authentic band offers.