by Orion Hughes
Of all the tribes that England tried to subdue, the Scots and Irish—Celts to the core—were impossible to crush. As indomitable as heather and shamrocks these neighbors of Britain would spring back to life whenever John Bull trampled them. And the music of these people, which was their voice, persisted when they settled mountain hollows from Virginia to Georgia and out to Kentucky, and has since crept into every form of music that has erupted in the fecund soil of America. The purest of it all, distilled as mountain dew, is bluegrass or old-time music.
Dennis Elliott is a master of this form in all its variety. He also possesses extreme versatility, moving easily from fiddle to mandolin to banjo and guitar. He’s won the 2002 Virginia State Fiddling Championship, the 2004 Virginia State Fiddling Championship, the 2007 Virginia State Fiddling Championship, the 2009 Virginia State Mandolin and Banjo Championships, the 2010 Virginia State Mandolin Championship, the 2012 Virginia State Mandolin and Banjo Championships and other competitions.
With the release of his latest CD, “Fiddler’s Dream”, Dennis proves his skill and flexibility as a performer. In all 17 instrumentals on this album, Dennis plays the fiddle, banjo, mandolin and guitar parts, while Brian Sulser plays the bass fiddle accompaniments.
Included in this mix are three original pieces including “New South Breakdown”, “Rhapsody in Gm” and “Marynell’s Waltz”, a heartfelt, three-count piece written for the composer’s wife. There’s also one Cajun number on this CD, “Jolie Blon”, a traditional waltz, often called the Cajun national anthem, which makes sense because Dennis hales from Louisiana where he was influenced at an early age by Cajun fiddlers. He was also influenced by Chet Atkins, Jerry Reed and, of course, bluegrass and old-time fiddlers—and it all comes through on this release.
Through his long musical career, Dennis has played with or been in warm-up bands for Bill Monroe, Brenda Lee, David Allen Coe, Earl Scruggs, Ernest Tubb, Hank Williams, Jr., Mac Wiseman, Merle Haggard, Patty Loveless, Ricky Skaggs Tammy Wynette, Vassar Clements and many others.
Dennis currently plays with a variety of local bands, including Dixie Ridge Bluegrass, The Atkinsons, Gypsy Roots, Chris Adams Band, Hazeltone and The Slack Family.
“Fiddler’s Dream” can be purchased for $15 at http://dennis-elliott.com/FiddlersDream.asp