Music

Ragpickin', written by Richard Saslow. Key of E major, standard tuning


Mississippi John Hurt Medley,starts with "Nobody's Business But My Own," then goes to “Richland Women,” then to “Make Me a Pallet on Your Floor,: then “Louis Collins,” then to “Creole Belle,” and back to "Nobody’s Business." Sometimes I put "I'm Satisfied" in there too, but I left it out this time. Mississippi John Hurt was a big influence on me as a guitar player. Key of D major on this recording, meaning played as if in C but with a capo on the second fret.


Robinson's May, written by Thomas Robinson circa 1610. Played on an 8-course Renaissance lute in one of Thomas Robinson’s tunings: Ff, Dd, Gg. CC, FF, AA, DD. G, diapason to chantarelle.


Kismet Rag, written by Scott Joplin and Scott Hayden. Key of C major, standard tuning.


Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, written by Johann Sebastian Bach for organ and four voices. Key of G major, standard tuning.


Sittin' on Top of the World, traditional blues, arranged by Virgil Elliott. Played in open G tuning, with a metal slide on my ring finger while sitting on the levee.


The Last Steam Engine Train, written by John Fahey. Key of E major, standard tuning. Fahey was my primary inspiration for learning to play the guitar when I first heard his records in 1965.


All of these pieces were recorded in the 1990s at Neil Jay Young’s Canyon Recording studio in Canyon, California, with Neil Jay Young as the engineer. No overdubbing was involved. All the pieces were played as solo instrumentals by Virgil Elliott on steel-string guitar except for Robinson’s May, which was played on Renaissance lute. Guitars used in these sessions were Virgil’s 1969 Gibson J-50, Jerry Weiss’s 1948 Martin D-28, and Virgil’s 1960s-era Harmony Sovereign (tuned to Open G for bottleneck blues.) The lute is an Aria made by Kadono.

An album or two is in the works as a long-term (obviously!) project. On the album(s) will probably be the pieces played here, plus some composed by Virgil Elliott, and:

  • Maple Leaf Rag (solo guitar)
  • Sleepwalk/Teardop (solo guitar)
  • Killing Me Softly (solo guitar)
  • God Bless the Child (solo guitar)
  • Greensleeves (Renaissance lute)
  • An Almayne (Renaissance lute)
  • Classical Gas (solo guitar)
  • Sweet Sixteen Bars (solo guitar)
  • St. Louis Blues (solo bottleneck guitar)
  • Today (solo guitar)
  • Prelude in C to the Well-tempered Clavier (J.S. Bach; arranged for solo steel-string guitar by Virgil Elliott)

And possibly a few blues cuts with John Allair on piano and Hammond B-3 organ and Virgil Elliott on electric and acoustic guitar, and a few others with Mississippi bluesman Big Al Calhoun on vocal and harmonica, accompanied by Virgil Elliott on acoustic guitar, recorded 1976-1982.