Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Chicago band The Teflons mix it up in entertaining fashion


Chicago band The Teflons seamlessly blend such divergent styles as country, doo-wop and Hawaiian music to create a sound that is both original and entertaining.

The Teflons, www.silverbeammusic.com, will perform with the equally entertaining Chicago string band Sunnyside Up on Feb.19 as part of the 5th annual After Brunch Bash and Barn Dance at FitzGerald's, 6615 Roosevelt Road, Berwyn.

The show starts at 1 p.m., and tickets are $12 for adults and $2 for children 12 and under, available at www.fitzgeraldsnightclub.com.

Teflons singer Barb Silverman juggles being a member of the band with a variety of other activities, including being a music teacher. I had the chance to talk to Silverman about the band and her other activities.

Q - You both play and teach music. Which is more satisfying? Do you hope that those who participate in your workshops at Old Town School of Folk Music will help carry on the tradition of folk music?

It’s apples and oranges, equally delicious.There’s the gratification of seeing a student, adult or child, suddenly able to hit a note, play a chord, shuffle a dance step that they couldn’t do before, and see the light in their eyes when it happens.

And there’s the mystery and joy of feeling your own skill and internal effort cycled right back to you in mid-performance by fellow musicians and audience. This very synergy is the folk music tradition in action, and I trust all involved will carry the torch forward. 

Q - The Teflons combine a mix of musical styles. What do you think makes it work? What was the idea behind the band?

Five female friends, all of whom have eclectic taste in traditional and roots music, got together and started harmonizing in Val’s living room and created a doo wop type of sound back 12 years ago. In time we added my guitar and washboard, Gail’s banjo-uke and bass, Eugenia’s flute, and men!

Rick’s vast fiddling experience with Rocky Stone and Patsy Montana, Keith’s stunning dobro, Colby’s masterful mandolin, Brian’s effortless bass all make it work. And the wide swath of swing, blues and country that we dip our fingers into.

As for our name, I was thinking of Tupperware but was afraid of cease and desist orders, so we went with The Teflons. Nothing sticks and no messy clean-up.

Q - You've had the opportunity to perform on "Prairie Home Companion." Did it live up to your expectations?

It was exciting to be on the show three times. Garrison is a quirky and brilliant man, the theatre was packed to the gills each time, and people were listening all over the country, even my mom and dad.

I remember when Garrison asked our mandolin player Stuart how he felt being on the show, he quipped, “I told my mom I was going to be on national radio, and she said, Get A Haircut.”


Q - What's happening with the Laketown Buskers these days? Can we expect any new songs from them in the near future?

Three of the original Laketown Buskers are now in my award-winning Schticklers Jug Band (2010 Champs), another performs nationally in the CafĂ© Accordion Orchestra, and one is fiddling and house-building on the East Coast. I don’t see a recording coming up soon for the Buskers, but possibly yes for the Schticklers.

Q - What was the idea behind creating Life Story Theatre and the White Crane Players? Has the project met with more success than you imagined?

I had always loved performing for elder audiences because invariably I would hear a gem of a story connected with some song I sang.  

I had the brainstorm of getting grant money to record and perform some of these stories, or better yet, to have the story-tellers themselves perform their own stories, with a few vintage songs connecting them together into a mosaic.  

Thus were Life Story Theatre and the White Crane Players born. I never dreamed funding would run from the city of Chicago to the Rothschild Foundation and that the project would grow and mutate to over twenty years of performance.

Q - Do you have any dream collaborations or dream projects?

That my career can continue is a bit of a dream come true, teaching and performing what I love. Dream collaboration?  That the After Brunch Bash be presented at the White House, clogging included.