Brian Sheridan hides his inner rocker during the day, when he teaches business at York High School in Elmhurst. But get him on stage, and Sheridan, who's been playing bass for the kids' music collaboration Ralph's World since 2001, comes alive.
We chatted with the Arlington Heights dad of two, who also plays in the Middle 8 and The Good Mondays when he's not performing with Ralph's World.
You teach business. I thought you'd be a music teacher.
You know, it's funny because I was never formally trained in music. Over the years I've acquired knowledge on my own, but I've never received a degree. A faculty band was formed here at school, and the kids just love it when they see us perform at a talent show. They like to see us looking human.
How did you get started with Ralph's World?
I had my own music I was writing and my own bands. I knew of Ralph and he was with the Bad Examples, a very well-known band here in the Midwest. I saw he was teaching a song-writing class at the Old Town School of Folk Music. I thought, I have to take that class so I could get him to like my songs and help me put together a recording of them, which ended up being exactly what happened. The band I was in, Middle 8, put out a record and Ralph produced it. When Ralph started Ralph's World, he would need a bass player every once in a while, so I would sub in. That eventually turned into me doing all the shows.
What was it like going from adult music to kids' music?
I think if Ralph was writing typical kids' music, it would have been hard. But his songs are written to please the entire family, not just the kids, so playing them was a lot of fun.
And you must have been in the throes of early parenthood when you started with Ralph.
I was. I had a 3-year-old and a 14-month-old, so that was really fun for me, because I was the demographic for Ralph's World. For the longest time, my kids, they would love to come to the shows. So we'd be listening to the music anyway and then I'd get up there and perform.
What's it like with your high schoolers?
Teenage kids are very curious about who you are. All they had to do is Google my name and they found videos that we shot for Disney, the potty pants song for Huggies. … I've been able to meet Mitchel Musso from "Hannah Montana." I met Snoop Dogg because we played Lollapalooza last year. The kids see a picture of me with these guys and they love it. Of course my own kids, they got to meet Corbin Bleu of "High School Musical" and Mitchel Musso. They're backstage and they think it's incredible. … I think they see me teaching and they know how much I love to teach, and then they see me get on a stage and rock out-it's been influential to see those two sides of it, for the kids at school or my own kids.
Liz DeCarlo is the senior editor at Chicago Parent.
See more of Liz's stories here.