Elk River Blues

As played by Ernie Carpenter from the West Virginia region

Rag in G

From the Southern Appalachians Collection

3 files for this tune:

Melody-Only Transcription (PDF)
Full Transcription (PDF)


Recording released by Augusta Heritage Center


This isn’t your usual country blues or ragtime tune. West Virginia fiddler Ernie Carpenter wrote it after his old homeplace was flooded by damming the Elk River to create Sutton Reservoir. After being removed from his land, he kept sneaking back in and being removed again. Powerless against a tyrannical government, he was fiddling one day and this melody came to him as a catharsis. The melody is simple yet powerful and extremely haunting. I was very pleased to find a full recording of it to transcribe and post here.


This tune is a member of the following groups:

Dr. Fiddle's Favorite Rags

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