Rick Estrin

Lesson >

Fattening Frogs for Snakes


Hey, Sonic Junction - Rick Estrin here.

I actually had a few requests for this specific song, so this time we’ll be working with my version of one of my favorite Rice Miller (or Sonnyboy Williamson #2) songs - “Fattening Frogs For Snakes”. This song is played unamplified, so the hand work and chord support should be clear and easy to hear.  All the components I normally emphasize are present in this piece - Tone, texture and note shaping are addressed, and as always, the groove is primary.




Topics and/or subjects covered in this lesson:
Chicago Blues

Backing Track

Print Print Chords & Tab

Bb Harp in the Key of F.

Loop 0:20 Whole Performance

Loop 1:10 Intro and First Verse

Loop 0:41 1st Solo

Loop 1:10 2nd Verse

Loop 1:39 2nd Solo, 1st Chorus

Loop 2:09 2nd Solo, 2nd Chorus

Loop 2:37 3rd Verse

Loop 3:07 3rd Solo





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andre Loiselle
andre Loiselle Jun 25, 2020

Hi Larry !! I really like your "angle" to say things !! always Cool to read !! have a good day !!

andre Loiselle
andre Loiselle Jun 24, 2020

Hi Kosta !! Great again !! thank you to posted another video ... 


Kosta Jun 24, 2020

Hey everybody!
Hey Rick! Made this song as my russian version of Fattening frogs for snakes. My story about Sheeps and Wolves and about 2008 and 2020.
Hard years I can say ;)  So will be glad to your comments and recomendation.

Thank you Rick a lot for lessons! Take care, do not think much about Trump and bad news. Thank you for Can't stop the blues video!

Rick Estrin
Rick Estrin Jun 24, 2020

Hi Kosta! Really good job again! I enjoyed the way you did the Russian language re-write! I wish I could understand Russian!

Larry "The Iceman"
Larry "The Iceman" Jun 25, 2020

I enjoyed the tracking of your rhythm harmonica looping behind your performance. That's the idea that most excellent blues harmonica players (like, um, well, like, uh, I know - RICK ESTRIN) do internally without a digital looping device. They have that rhythm track running in their mind while they sing or solo, sometimes switching and quietly playing that back up groove during pauses in the vocals or soloing. Harmonica = miracle instrument combining rhythm guitar AND lead guitar when approached from this angle.

Mne ponravilos' vashe peniye i igra na garmonike.

Larry "The Iceman"
Larry "The Iceman" Aug 17, 2018

This may just help Andre learn about groove....it worked for me...

Go for a walk around the block with your harmonica. Once you get into your walk "groove" (steady walk - no slowing down and speeding up), play a simple harmonica groove pattern as you walk, like - inhale holes 1 and 2 while softly phoneticizing "Ut - tah" and then exhale holes 2 and 3 while phoneticizing "Ut - tah"...so, left foot (inhale), right foot (exhale). Breathe the harmonica in and out.

The "Ut - tah" is attached to the triplet beat of "1 and a", where the "Ut" is on 1, the "and" is a pause and the "tah" is on the "a" of the beat. The "feel" is exactly the same one you feel when you skip....remember skipping as a kid? Attach what you are playing to that "feeling".

(This worked great until I had a student who was from Germany. He told me "We German boy children did NOT skip. That was only for girls").

andre Loiselle
andre Loiselle Aug 17, 2018

sorry Rick , my explanation yesterday was wrong about to be ahead , on , and behind the beat 

Rick Estrin
Rick Estrin Aug 17, 2018

Hey Andre - It was great seeing you in NY! One of the important keys to feeling the groove is relaxation. You can work on your groove by practicing something simple - something where execution is no problem at all. You already have a good tone, so try playing very simple stuff and make it sound even better by putting it as deep in the groove as you can. 

andre Loiselle
andre Loiselle Aug 16, 2018

I didn t know that was that hard to play and be in the "groove" or instead to know where I am in the song  ... I mean , lately I started to play and follow the 12 bar and counting the beat ... to me just be able to play and be able to follow the beat with my 2 feet ... it s a real challenge ... but I will continue , and now I know what you mean to  be ahead or on or behind the beat ... and your really amazing on that !! ... you re often start a beat ahead ... anyway it s a process ... and i will be there soon !! like always ... was a treat to see you Perform Rick !!

Larry "The Iceman"
Larry "The Iceman" Feb 17, 2018

"We don need no stinkin' amplifiers!"

IMO, acoustic tone doesn't get any more "no doubt" than this. Solid!

Can't wait for the breakdown....Miller's breathing patterns between the single notes has always befuddled me...

Rick Estrin
Rick Estrin Feb 17, 2018

Well Larry, if there ends up being anything in here you‘re curious about, and I somehow overlooked breaking it down in the lessons, all you have to do is ask.

Bill Blatner
Bill Blatner Feb 17, 2018

Hey Rick,

Nice timing dude! I've been listening to Sonny boy a ton lately and spent a ridiculous amount of time on your Nine Below Zero lesson. Hopefully this will help me bring it up a notch or two. Thanks.


Rick Estrin
Rick Estrin Feb 17, 2018

I hope it helps too! Keep me posted.

Eric Betts
Eric Betts Feb 16, 2018

I love this Rick! Sounds like I should be able to apply some stuff from the Sonny Boy's Groove lesson. Excited! 

Rick Estrin
Rick Estrin Feb 17, 2018

Glad you like it, Eric! Stylistically, it’s all Sonnyboy, so yes, a lot of the same feel will apply to both pieces. Have fun with it and let me know how you’re doing.

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