You Can be a FiddleStar

I post things about fiddling. And how we can all be better at it.

<p>If you didn’t know Sunshine McClenahan, I’m not entirely sure how to begin to describe her, and therefore to express what the world has just lost. I met her and her husband Lou when I was a little kid and their son Bryan and I were both competing in west coast fiddle contests. I remember wondering if my mom would ever let me run around festivals without shoes, like Sunshine always did. Years later, when I began to play bluegrass, I heard about this legendary weekly jam in Redwood City and decided to check it out, hoping whoever was hosting it would forgive my bluegrass ignorance and just welcome an eager fiddler. I needn’t have worried. When I walked in the door of that eclectic home in the hills and realized that this was indeed Sunshine and Lou’s house, all my fears disappeared and I vowed to spend every available Friday night with those people, in that spot. We hung out at festivals together, they invited me to their summer rental home on the coast, and they introduced me to a wacky and talented collection of musicians and raconteurs that I will never forget. Most of you know that, even ahead of the music itself, I value how music brings people together and I can trace my passion for that cause back to a handful of people. Sunshine was one of those people and I will miss her terribly. I hope there are well-tuned banjos and soft grass for bare feet where she’s going. #sunshine  (at Redwood City, California)</p>

If you didn’t know Sunshine McClenahan, I’m not entirely sure how to begin to describe her, and therefore to express what the world has just lost. I met her and her husband Lou when I was a little kid and their son Bryan and I were both competing in west coast fiddle contests. I remember wondering if my mom would ever let me run around festivals without shoes, like Sunshine always did. Years later, when I began to play bluegrass, I heard about this legendary weekly jam in Redwood City and decided to check it out, hoping whoever was hosting it would forgive my bluegrass ignorance and just welcome an eager fiddler. I needn’t have worried. When I walked in the door of that eclectic home in the hills and realized that this was indeed Sunshine and Lou’s house, all my fears disappeared and I vowed to spend every available Friday night with those people, in that spot. We hung out at festivals together, they invited me to their summer rental home on the coast, and they introduced me to a wacky and talented collection of musicians and raconteurs that I will never forget. Most of you know that, even ahead of the music itself, I value how music brings people together and I can trace my passion for that cause back to a handful of people. Sunshine was one of those people and I will miss her terribly. I hope there are well-tuned banjos and soft grass for bare feet where she’s going. #sunshine (at Redwood City, California)

Posted 20 weeks ago
<p>One of my favorite things about #summergrass weekend was getting to see two of my favorite people in the whole wide world. @curmud.geon may not be my brother by birth but I couldn’t be happier that our parents met, fell in love and made us siblings for life. Not to mention, he definitely married up when he found @dreuz #realbrother #thefamilyyouchoose  (at Campfire)</p>

One of my favorite things about #summergrass weekend was getting to see two of my favorite people in the whole wide world. @curmud.geon may not be my brother by birth but I couldn’t be happier that our parents met, fell in love and made us siblings for life. Not to mention, he definitely married up when he found @dreuz #realbrother #thefamilyyouchoose (at Campfire)

Posted 20 weeks ago
<p>Holy hell. Another night in Nashville, another mind-blowing night of music. Thanks to @rossholmesfiddle for the hookup on a show we will remember for a lifetime. Turns out, guitar tone is a really huge deal. #govtmule #warrenhaynes #tone #gibson #jackpearson #fendersquireforthewin (at Ascend Amphitheater)</p>

Holy hell. Another night in Nashville, another mind-blowing night of music. Thanks to @rossholmesfiddle for the hookup on a show we will remember for a lifetime. Turns out, guitar tone is a really huge deal. #govtmule #warrenhaynes #tone #gibson #jackpearson #fendersquireforthewin (at Ascend Amphitheater)

Posted 20 weeks ago
<p>A super fun #girldate with @cleliahart last night. Pictured here, #michelleshocked with her stellar band, celebrating the 25th anniversary of her seminal Arkansas Traveler album. That album came out the year I graduated from high school (and right after Clelia was born 🙄) and it was a huge deal for us traditional musicians. It turned me on to Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown and Taj Mahal and was full of other amazing collaborations before collaborations were a thing. Side note: Michelle Shocked does not allow phone use or photo/video capture during her shows so, before the band starts, they pose for 30 seconds so everyone can get it out of their systems. This is a photo of that. #arkansastraveler #cripplecreek #soldiersjoy #blackberryblossom #fiddle  (at City Winery Nashville)</p>

A super fun #girldate with @cleliahart last night. Pictured here, #michelleshocked with her stellar band, celebrating the 25th anniversary of her seminal Arkansas Traveler album. That album came out the year I graduated from high school (and right after Clelia was born 🙄) and it was a huge deal for us traditional musicians. It turned me on to Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown and Taj Mahal and was full of other amazing collaborations before collaborations were a thing. Side note: Michelle Shocked does not allow phone use or photo/video capture during her shows so, before the band starts, they pose for 30 seconds so everyone can get it out of their systems. This is a photo of that. #arkansastraveler #cripplecreek #soldiersjoy #blackberryblossom #fiddle (at City Winery Nashville)

Posted 21 weeks ago
<p>I find the weirdest things hanging around our house. #61strat #guitarrestoration #fiestared  (at Fiddlestar)</p>

I find the weirdest things hanging around our house. #61strat #guitarrestoration #fiestared (at Fiddlestar)

Posted 21 weeks ago
<p>Here’s a little #tbt to my beginner fiddle class at @augustaheritage circa 2006. Augusta was the first bluegrass camp I ever taught and I learned so much about the music from the four years I was there. The summer bluegrass and old-time camp season is drawing to a close and I’ve heard so many great stories from my students about their experiences at #walkercreekmusiccamp and #swannanoa and #montanafiddlecamp and #Augusta and #nashcamp and #nimblefingers and the many other awesome camp experiences out there for the enjoying. I love hearing about and learning from all of the wonderful camps and teachers. It inspires me and reminds me that the music we love is about more than just the music. It’s about the community we build, the gaps we bridge, and the challenges we face. Our own fall camp season here at #nashvilleacousticcamps starts in a couple of weeks and I’m beyond excited. #bluegrass #oldtime #musiccamp #timetoorderthefriedchicken (at Augusta Heritage Center)</p>

Here’s a little #tbt to my beginner fiddle class at @augustaheritage circa 2006. Augusta was the first bluegrass camp I ever taught and I learned so much about the music from the four years I was there. The summer bluegrass and old-time camp season is drawing to a close and I’ve heard so many great stories from my students about their experiences at #walkercreekmusiccamp and #swannanoa and #montanafiddlecamp and #Augusta and #nashcamp and #nimblefingers and the many other awesome camp experiences out there for the enjoying. I love hearing about and learning from all of the wonderful camps and teachers. It inspires me and reminds me that the music we love is about more than just the music. It’s about the community we build, the gaps we bridge, and the challenges we face. Our own fall camp season here at #nashvilleacousticcamps starts in a couple of weeks and I’m beyond excited. #bluegrass #oldtime #musiccamp #timetoorderthefriedchicken (at Augusta Heritage Center)

Posted 21 weeks ago
<p>We’ve all been there. At the moment of this photo, he yelled into the guitar, “I found it!” Also, when Patrick Sauber mentioned to him that some of the frets might be in the wrong place which was making it harder to tune, he said, “BUT IT’S RED!!!” #bluegrass #bluegrasscamp #summergrass #mypickfellin #redguitarbestguitar (at Summergrass San Diego)</p>

We’ve all been there. At the moment of this photo, he yelled into the guitar, “I found it!” Also, when Patrick Sauber mentioned to him that some of the frets might be in the wrong place which was making it harder to tune, he said, “BUT IT’S RED!!!” #bluegrass #bluegrasscamp #summergrass #mypickfellin #redguitarbestguitar (at Summergrass San Diego)

Posted 21 weeks ago
<p>It’s been a while since I’ve been on a bluegrass festival stage but I couldn’t have been more delighted to play a few sets with @cjnightdrivers at #summergrass this weekend. The musicians were fantastic, the songs were excellent, and the crowds were so gracious. I might even do it again someday. #bluegrass #bluegrassfestival #onceayearwhetherineeditornot  (at Summergrass San Diego)</p>

It’s been a while since I’ve been on a bluegrass festival stage but I couldn’t have been more delighted to play a few sets with @cjnightdrivers at #summergrass this weekend. The musicians were fantastic, the songs were excellent, and the crowds were so gracious. I might even do it again someday. #bluegrass #bluegrassfestival #onceayearwhetherineeditornot (at Summergrass San Diego)

Posted 21 weeks ago
<p>#summergrass Kids Camp is amazing already. We’ve added a bunch of 4th finger slides, droning strings, and gratuitous shuffles to various tunes and rocked a pretty solid kickoff to New River Train. Relax, people. Bluegrass is safe. #fiddle #bluegrass #fiddlecamp #bluegrasscamp #gratuitousshuffles (at Summergrass San Diego Bluegrass Music Camp for Kids)</p>

#summergrass Kids Camp is amazing already. We’ve added a bunch of 4th finger slides, droning strings, and gratuitous shuffles to various tunes and rocked a pretty solid kickoff to New River Train. Relax, people. Bluegrass is safe. #fiddle #bluegrass #fiddlecamp #bluegrasscamp #gratuitousshuffles (at Summergrass San Diego Bluegrass Music Camp for Kids)

Posted 22 weeks ago
<p>#leftcoastbestcoast I can’t help it. This is where I’m from and the light looks more familiar here than it ever will anywhere else. I just landed and I had to make a quick detour to the beach on my way to teach and play the Summergrass Festival. #bluegrass #summergrass #goinbacktocali  (at San Onofre State Beach)</p>

#leftcoastbestcoast I can’t help it. This is where I’m from and the light looks more familiar here than it ever will anywhere else. I just landed and I had to make a quick detour to the beach on my way to teach and play the Summergrass Festival. #bluegrass #summergrass #goinbacktocali (at San Onofre State Beach)

Posted 22 weeks ago

 1/25/13
I am excited to embark on a new chapter of my working life - I recently gave my notice to the Pam Tillis organization and will no longer be touring with her or Lorrie Morgan (on their awesome Grits and Glamour Tour). I must admit, I'm sad to be leaving. It's been an incredible four years and I have learned so much. Thanks to Pam, her amazing husband/manager Matt Spicher, and my bandmates, especially the lovely and talented Mary Sue Englund, with whom I spent more time over the last few years than I did with my husband. And I wouldn't trade a minute of it...