Learn to play Elizabeth Cotten’s “Freight Train”


I had no idea that “Freight Train”, written by Elizabeth Cotten when she was just 11-years-old, had such a rich heritage and played such an important role in American music. Thank-you, Heidi Swedberg, for bringing this to our attention.

This is an excerpt from the “Artist Spotlight” on Elizabeth Cotten in Smithsonian Folkways:

“but the true measure of her legacy lies with the tens of thousands of guitarists who cherish her songs as a favorite part of their repertoires, preserving and keeping alive her unique musical style.”

OK. Let’s see if we can add “tens of thousands of ukulele players” to that description.

Among other things, one of the workshops Heidi will be teaching at La Semana de Uke-Culinary Fiesta is “Freight Train,” where she will teach us how to play this iconic song in a manner that will truly honor Elizabeth Cotten’s lovely song. You can forget about the “down up down up”…you’re going to be doing some picking!

Here’s the workshop description:

FREIGHT TRAIN, FREIGHT TRAIN: Easy pickin’ and modulatin’ in the same track with Heidi Swedberg

Pulling two previous workshops together, you, too, will be “going so fast,” once you put a few second-position chords and the simple, Travis picking pattern together in Elizabeth Cotten’s iconic song, “Freight Train, Freight Train,” a tune written more than 100 years ago and a great song to have in your quiver.  Plus, once you get this technique down, you’ll realize there are more tunes in your repertoire you can use this classic picking pattern with.  It’s one of those workshops that will take you a long, long way. (Heidi Swedberg)

We’ll be posting the entire workshop schedule, shortly.  In the meantime, you might want to look into registering for the retreat as soon as possible.  We still have rooms available in all categories (single, double, couple, and triple) but, once they’re gone, they’re gone! And we would hate for you to miss out on all the fun!