Ted Hammig and the members of his band, The Campaign, sat outside Fayetteville’s Puritan Coffee & Beer on a sunny afternoon in September, sipping on matcha, laughing and reminiscing like lifelong friends. Looking at the three comrades, one might never guess that their closeness is new-found and was bred within isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ted Hammig and The Campaign comprises Hammig, a UA freshman, on vocals and guitar, David Moneymaker, a sophomore, on bass, Andrew Ruegsegger, a sophomore, on drums and Freeman Boatright, a junior at Arkansas Arts Academy High School, on keys and guitar. The members describe their sound as rock ‘n’ roll, with an emphasis on the roll, citing artists like Tom Petty, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and Peter Frampton as influences.
The Campaign’s genesis occurred when Hammig finished his debut album, “Mystery Man.” Wanting a band to play his songs live with him, he began to assemble local musicians to learn his catalog for an upcoming gig booked for April 2020.
Hammig, Moneymaker and Boatright met in January 2020 and began to practice in preparation for the show, but soon the pandemic dashed their dreams of performing and sent the band members into isolation.
“We only got, like, less than a month of practice in before we had to separate,” Hammig said.
Hammig continued to write music during quarantine and would send drum clips to Moneymaker and Boatright to build off of, Moneymaker said. In late 2020, the band put together a version of “The Christmas Song” created by splicing clips of all the members performing in their homes.
In August 2020, Ted Hammig and The Campaign played a small, socially distanced show in Hammig’s backyard, featuring 12 new songs that Hammig wrote during quarantine.
“I borrowed a speaker from (Good Shepherd Lutheran Church) and set up a sound system and hoped the neighbors didn't call the cops,” Hammig said. “Nobody did complain.”
Last October, the band began practicing at Good Shepherd and developing their sound in person.
“When we came back, it was something outside of my home to look forward to,” Moneymaker said. “To kind of keep me grounded in the week.”
After less than a year of practicing together in person, Ted Hammig and The Campaign played their first full-fledged gig as a part of the Gulley Park Concert Series on July 22, opening for Trout Fishing In America.
Although it was Moneymaker’s second gig ever and the largest crowd the band had played for — approximately 800 people — he said they kept their composure well.
“I felt like we succeeded in every way and I was really proud of us, honestly,” Moneymaker said.
Since the Gulley Park gig, The Campaign has picked up drummer Andrew Ruegsegger, who knew Moneymaker through school and attended the Gulley Park show as a fan.
“It comes a lot more naturally than I thought it would,” Ruegsegger said. “It's a thing I look forward to every week.”
The band members are also especially fond of the talent Boatright brings to his role as their keyboardist and guitarist, Hammig said.
“We've said we're going to block every single college application he sends anywhere other than Arkansas because we can't bear to lose him,” Hammig said.
Ted Hammig and The Campaign are booked to play Artists Against Suicide, a live-streamed benefit show Oct. 23, and they plan to release their single, “One Trick Wonder,” in the near future. In the meantime, Hammig said he and his band members hope to book more gigs and continue to grow closer and write songs together.