Fiddlosophy Episode #1: Musical Road-tripping, Creating Solos, Baloney Sandwiches


Welcome to the first episode of the Fiddlosophy podcast. I’ll tell stories and dad jokes as we explore fiddling, learning music and philosophy.

In today’s episode, I’ll talk about learning tunes from recordings. Doing this on a road trip in search of the soul of American Music with one of my best friends and bandmates.

Show Notes

My friend Joel and I took a road trip in 1998 from San Francisco to the Deep South in search of the soul of American music. It’s sounds cheesy, but it’s just the sort of thing you do when you’re 29, in between bands and have nothing better to do.

We listened to CDs and learned songs as we drove. This was pre-google maps and smart phones. So “The Navigator” was in charge of the map, rewinding the CD and playing mandolin.

Other fun things that happened:

  • We busked on the street in New Orleans playing a mix of songs and fiddle tunes like the Irish Washerwoman.
  • Danced to a blues band called Super Chickan in Clarkesdale Mississippi with Morgan Freeman.
  • We drove 26 hours straight from North Carolina to Amarillo Texas, didn’t run out of gas, didn’t get in any fights for three weeks, wrote songs and planned the launch of our next band called 86 The Band.

Taking Solos

Learning from recordings without sheet music can be challenging. But it will help you to pick up tunes more quickly. And you’ll be more adaptable in jam sessions.

3 Essential Things To Learn For Solos

  • Melody
  • Chord Progression
  • Scale

Soloing is a process of triangulating between the melody, chords and scale.

Things mentioned

Fraulein by Bobby Helms

Fraulein by Townes Van Sandt


Super Chickan!

Don’t Close Your Eyes

Joel wrote a great song called Don’t Close Your Eyes that made it on the first album by 86 The Band…


  • Learn music by from recordings. It can be painstaking, but you’ll be a better musician for it.
  • When taking a solo, let the vocal melody be your guide.
  • You can survive for at least three weeks on baloney sandwiches

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Further learning

How To Learn Tunes From Recordings

Irish Washerwoman – Basic Lesson

Subscribers only:

Mandolin For Fiddlers

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