Free Flatpicking Lesson
by Paul Shelasky
Hello and welcome once again to
Flatpicking Guitar Magazine’s free lesson portion of our email
newsletter. This month’s tune is the masterpiece “Cazadero” written by
fiddler Paul Shelasky back in 1975. In 2006, the great Chris Thile made
this tune popular when he recorded it on the first Punch Brothers album
How to Grow a Woman From the Ground. I first heard “Cazadero” on John
Reischman’s 1993 Rounder recording, North of the Border.
Thile’s rendition is much faster than Reischman’s, which is much faster
than the original -- yet the tune’s inherent beauty, integrity, and
brilliance are present in all three.
Now it’s time for you to learn
this amazing tune on the guitar! “Cazadero” is basically a fiddle tune
with four parts. The form is AABBCCDD. I feel one aspect that makes
this tune sound so impressive is that when most tunes return to their
respective A sections, “Cazadero” busts into it’s C section, which
catches the ear at the right time. When I asked Paul how the
tune came to exist in four parts he explained that it just came out
that way and the that the third part was his personal favorite. I too
enjoy the third part the most, as this is when the tune begins to
reveal itself as an epic masterpiece.
Not everyone has written a
fiddle tune that peaks the ears of mandolin virtuoso Chris Thile. For
this reason I was very interested to find out how Paul came to learn of
“Cazadero’s” inclusion on the 2006 Punch Brothers recording. It was
Punch Brothers’ guitarist, Chris Eldridge, who approached Paul at a
festival and told him they had already recorded the tune. Eldridge went
on to the play the recorded version on his laptop computer. I can just
imagine Paul’s inner satisfaction upon hearing some of the world’s
greatest musicians interpret his original tune!
Most of the chord playing
the A and B sections are very traditional. It is the C and D sections
where you may encounter some cool new chords. you will need a Bm (I use
a Bm7), a D/F# (which is a D chord with an F# note in the bass), and a
Bb diminished (not as hard as it sounds) in addition to the typical D,
G, A, and Em Shapes.
Paul wrote this tune on the fiddle in
the great key of E. The Key of E, while very friendly to
blues and rock guitar, is not a flatpicker’s best friend. To solve this
we just place our trusty capo at the second fret and play the tune out
of a D position.
hope you enjoy working on “Cazadero” and adding to your list of great
flatpicking tunes. I’d like to thank Paul Shelasky for being such a
pleasure to talk with and for allowing us to use “Cazadero” in our
newsletter. Make sure to click on the included lesson mp3 to hear the
melody and chords together. As always, if you have any questions or
comments on this e-lesson just drop me a line at