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Borderlands: Storytelling, Philosophy, & Old Time Fiddle with Joe McHugh – Creative Strings Podcast Ep. 11

“All story telling in one way or another is dealing with borderlands… We live in a world completely governed by story telling.”

At the intersection of story telling, philosophy, and old time fiddle music lives Joe McHugh. Scroll down to take a journey!  Listen and discover:

  • How to recognize and employ story telling in everything around us
  • Envisioning silence as a canvas. “It’s all silence”
  • The violin as literary symbol and bridge to other dimensions


This episode is brought to you by the Electric Violin Shop, your one-stop shop for electric instruments, amps, gear, accessories, and most of all, expertise. Use code CHOWES at checkout and take 5% off of your order. Call them at 866-900-8400 to get your questions answered.

It is also brought to you by Yamaha. Having personally worked with Yamaha for more than 18 years, I can personally vouch: They’re a major force for good in the bowed strings world, producing string instruments of the highest quality. If you haven’t yet, make sure to try one. (Hint: Call Electric Violin Shop!)

While you listen, feel free to share/tweet any of the quotes below, and let me know what resonates for you in the comments!

“When I’m on stage telling a story or performing and if I’m talking to someone the next day about having me come to their conference or their music camp, the work of getting them to understand why they want me and why that fits is the same story I’m telling on stage.”

“I love the reaction of an audience to story telling… It gives them permission to react to the entire experience.”

“Everything you do whether playing a note on your instrument or telling a story is laid upon this canvas of silence.”

Table of Contents:

  • Using story telling as a tool to connect with your audience (2:03)
  • Practicing silence as a canvas for music making (6:20)
  • Compelling people with stories (16:00)
  • The art of story telling (27:27)
  • What is unique about the violin? (35:00)
  • Sharing stories and performing music(50:22)

Special thanks to Resonance Records, Bruce Molsky, Ryan Cavanaugh, and Bill Frisell for permission to use audio clips in this episode:

“American Sprit” from my upcoming album American Spirit on Resonance Records Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 9.07.51 PM-Aug18-1

“The Wreck of the Dandenong” by Bruce Molsky from the album If it Ain’t Here when I Get Back

“Peg and Awl” by Bruce Molsky and Bill Frisell

“Old John Sarod” by Ryan Cavanaugh from Songs For the New Frontier


Creative Strings Podcast explores intersections between creativity, music education, string playing, music business, and culture.


Thanks to our sponsors for supporting the Creative Strings Podcast. Their support makes it possible to invest in the production of each episode and bring you great stories like this.

Visit Electric Violin Shop, your one-stop shop for electric instruments, amps, gear, accessories, and expertise. Use code CHOWES at checkout and take 5% off of your order. Call 866-900-8400 to get your questions answered on “all things electric strings”.

Ask them about the Yamaha Electric Violin,(check out my video review here). 

Are you a string player/teacher interested in exploring improvisation, contemporary styles, and related subjects?

Take a free introductory private Skype lesson (limited avails) Attend an upcoming workshop

If you enjoyed my interview with Andrea Whitt, check out these related posts:

Full Interview with Jazz Violinist Regina Carter Creative Practice Strategies for Violin, Viola, and Cello Full Interview with Jazz Violinist Jason Anick

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“Creative Strings” initiatives with the founding of Camille Catherine, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to the expansion and improvement of music education, with a focus on the development of curriculum and programs for classically trained string players and teachers to expand their skills as creative musicians.