Dave Tedder, who passed away suddenly this year at age 31, was a constant and welcoming presence in Baltimore's heavy-music scene. I didn't know Tedder well, but like everyone in town with an interest in punk or metal, I couldn't help but be touched by him. Throughout my time in Baltimore (and long before), Tedder was at every show of note, creating a welcoming atmosphere and helping amp up the fun, anything-can-happen vibe that makes live shows exciting. He also was very open to everyone, with a warm greeting for anyone new to the scene.
"A lot of people who moved to Baltimore or came through town say 'Dave Tedder was the first person who introduced himself to me,'" says longtime friend Bob Sweeney of Baltimore band the Pilgrim, "I think it was because he didn't have a lot of hang-ups, he was very nonjudgmental, a rare trait."
More than just the average showgoer, he was a lifer who had been deeply involved in music since his teens, briefly as singer for the influential Baltimore peace-punk band A//Political, but more integrally as a fan, a roadie for various bands, including Richmond's Municipal Waste and Sweeney's old band Moonshine, and as a constant booster of the scene. Friends recall him as an emissary, sharing his musical discoveries with everyone:
"He was a cheering section for the music scene, always trying to get people going to shows, to get them involved. . . . Many people said they wouldn't have known about their favorite bands without his enthusiasm," says Chris X, owner of Reptilian Records, the longstanding, now-shuttered Baltimore punk record store. "He could make anyone feel included-if there was a new kid at a show, he would go over and talk to them. . . . He didn't judge you or care about social-clique boundary lines. He had an open and curious approach to life."
Tedder was also a punk/DIY entrepreneur whose pursuits had deep roots in the culture of show-going and the bands and fests that make this a great city for fans of loud music.
"He hated going to a traditional job, but loved working, so he always had a project," says Sweeney. His projects included a silk-screening business started with his brother Ted, Four Hour Day Prints, which provided shirts for many of the areas bands as well as versions of hard-to-find classic designs (I own at least one of their shirts, an awesome EYEHATEGOD Southern Discomfort-era design), to his hot dog cart, Headbangin Hot Dogs. This most recent venture, which focused on vegan food, had just begun making the rounds when he passed away. The cart remains active and still features his recipes as well as a menu item named after him.
To see how Dave impacted the city, you just have to note how quickly and deeply the scene reacted to news of his passing. It seemed as though the whole city paused at once to take a deep breath and then, in haste, organized benefit shows, gatherings, and memorials, created stickers, shirts, 'zines, and other ephemera. He left behind his family (his father recently passed away) and girlfriend, Sarah, but also a large community of friends and comrades in Baltimore and beyond who continue to celebrate his life and memory.
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