CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Felisha Chase cocked an ear. She stood atop a mountain in Southern West Virginia. She was hunting. Not for deer, not for bear.
She was hunting a rhythm.
And there it was -- a syncopated banjo beat off in the woods. Yeah, she could rap to that!
And that's how it came to be that a slim, white chick with a hip-hop vibe found a pickup band in the woods at this month's Appalachian String Band Festival. The result?
World, please meet the award-winning band Teaspoon and the Whoevers.
They don't exist anymore. She never even got the name of the guitar player who joined up with the other instrumentalists she found in woods, including an upright bass guy and a mandolin player.
While they did exist on the Clifftop stage, competing in the festival's neotraditional string band contest at Camp Washington-Carver in early August, it was a dream come true for the 42-year-old Shrewsbury native.
"That's exactly how it happened," says Chase, standing inside Frütcake, Jon and Keeley Steele's latest restaurant venture on Charleston's East End, where she now works.
Chase -- aka "Teaspoon" -- stood up to perform the intro to the song that she and the Whoevers performed in the neotrad string band contest. It's a contest in which anything goes, genre-wise, so long as you've got at least three performers and stringed instruments. Cue Chase's "Last Night at Clifftop":
"I came upon these banjo pickers in the woods/ And the boys had rhythm, yeah, the boys sounded good./ I started spittin' my rhyme and I joined right in./ And one looked at the other and said 'Do that again ...'"
The judges were impressed. The pickup band earned third place in the contest. Better still, "Last Night at Clifftop" won Best Song.
So, who is this Teaspoon and what can Chase tell us about her?
Teaspoon was born at Charleston's downtown bus transit station some years ago, a place where Chase recalled she has met some real characters.
"I befriended Cornbread, Count, 6'9", Red and other 'real people' who didn't want everyone to know their 'government names.' I liked the idea of anonymity. It made me feel safe and freed me up creatively."
If you eat at the Steeles' other restaurants -- Bluegrass Kitchen and Tricky Fish -- you might not only have met Teaspoon, but might have been entertained by one of her raps.