Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

Banjo Lovers Online

 All Forums
 Playing the Banjo
 Playing Advice: 4-String (Jazz, Blues & Other Trad Styles)
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: I’M COMING VIRGINIA Early jazz song. Bix Beiderbecke and Ethel Waters.

Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link:

craig wood - Posted - 05/10/2021:  09:56:56

I posted this wonderful jazz tune as an MP3 along with the Fivers;
and it was then suggested that i post the song in the forum as well. The song is in Eb and actually follows the plectrum chords quite easily..i added some horns and strings in the 2nd half..If anything, this pandemic has offered me the chance to record some great plectrum music.Enjoy this great jazz classic.

Greg Gilbert - Posted - 05/10/2021:  10:07:47

I loved it! (also a Bix fan)

guitarbanjoman - Posted - 05/10/2021:  14:32:45

Another Bix fan...

Yes! loved it!

However, you missed playing the lovely verse, which alternates between major and minor... 

"Stop the traffic to Dixie; hold it right on the line...” me it's the coolest thing about the song.

Check out Ethel Waters ultra-dramatic 1926 version which became the inspiration for Bix, Tram and Eddie playing the song in 1927...

Edited by - guitarbanjoman on 05/10/2021 14:37:46

Tractor1 - Posted - 05/10/2021:  14:44:29

If I may ask, did you play the horns and strings ,I am curious on how you did it.Sometimes I try a bit of that with my keyboard. I play a 5 ,but never get tired of my Bix and Benny Goodman CD.

ocarina-man - Posted - 05/10/2021:  17:05:00

As is frequently done by modern players this version is rather homogenized. That is, it is missing many of the sophisticated passing chords that give it its wonderful character. Those early composers usually knew what they were doing but today many either can't hear what the chords are or they simplify the heck out of it. Similar to painting in oils vs. painting with crayons. but it is still better than no song at all.

craig wood - Posted - 05/11/2021:  04:30:14

Will, thank you for the YouTube link. Great verse..we don't play enough verses! But then forty years ago not so easy to find..Im now determined to add the verse to this recording.
Tom, the horns and strings are midi..The app is Logic. And I'm using a stereo pair for guitar and banjo.
Yes Ocarina man it is rather homogenized. But don't count the modern players or composers for that matter, out. There is nothing about the Bix recording that we don't understand..chords and all!

Clutch Cargo - Posted - 05/11/2021:  06:34:58

Great tune! I came to know it from the playing of jazz fiddler Stephane Grappelli. My favorite recording is a lot less flowery than this one, but I couldn't find it on YouTube.

guitarbanjoman - Posted - 05/11/2021:  09:12:33

There is nothing about the Bix recording that we don't understand..chords and all!

Here's something I'll bet you didn't know.... Eddie Lang plays that with a capo on the first fret.

Check the natural harmonics Eddie uses at the ending... do you really think Bix and Tram had been playing their legendary solos in the key of E natural?


ocarina-man - Posted - 05/11/2021:  10:06:31

Again, sorry, Mr. Wilson. Eddie Lang never used a capo. Professional musicians just didn't do that in those days. They knew how to play in any key.

As for the key, you are joking, right? It is well known that 78rpm records are not played at exactly 78rpm. So the key for the Trumbauer recording is in F (although it will sound at either slightly higher or lower depending on the turntable speed.)

And "harmonics?" Eddie is just playing a modified arpeggio that I 've heard several of my guitar-playing friends rip off (in different keys yet). Straight notes, no "harmonics" (if that means lightly fingering on top of frets).

guitarbanjoman - Posted - 05/11/2021:  11:27:56

Yeah, I know it sounds ludicrous. But it’s true.

Maybe he tuned up a half step instead of using a capo, who knows? But he liked those open strings for his cool bass runs.

Believe me, I used to play “I’m Comin’ Virginia” regularly with my Bix band, and I could play it note for note with a capo, no problem...

Listen to the two very last harmonics at 3:19


Exact same thing with “Singin’ the Blues” which Eddie played in the key of D capoed up one fret to Eb... try it and you’ll see I’m right...

Let me be very clear about this... Eddie Lang could play in any damn key he wanted to, for sure.

But here is my surmise... young guitar genius Eddie had to work out his own jazz accompaniment system to play with his gifted young pal Joe Venuti on violin.

And naturally enough, the two played in violin keys, which are generally sharp keys.

And so Frankie Trumbauer, who was a big Lang fan, asked Eddie to provide the very same kind of accompaniment for him and Bix.

That’s why these records are real light on the bass... they wanted Eddie’s guitar to be very prominent behind their solos.

That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it!


PS Here is our band's old record which included that song.... marked down to $8-...

Edited by - guitarbanjoman on 05/11/2021 11:33:03

Don Lewers - Posted - 05/12/2021:  00:05:12

Really enjoyed your playin' Craig, thanks for posting ...... your banjo recording quality sounds so good, can I ask, what mic are you using?. ...... Don.

craig wood - Posted - 05/12/2021:  07:06:47

Thanks Don
Im using a matched stereo pair..SE1A's. Not expensive. Banjo track is stereo and with no compression and little EQ. i like the sound of your Whyte Laydie. Is there added compression?

Don Lewers - Posted - 05/13/2021:  11:28:22

Craig, I'm using a ''Rode'' NT-USB mic. IMO, it's better at recording vocals than instruments, I'm not sure about your compression question. ..... Don.

craig wood - Posted - 05/14/2021:  11:53:46

Don, thats fine..never played a Whyte Laydie..It sounds great.

Hot Club Man - Posted - 05/21/2021:  08:21:10

Well played Craig--great choice of tune. One of the classics. The 1927 version with Bix & Eddie Lang
So-So good, an absolute classic. The verse as good as the chorus. Most tunes of yesteryear had a verse--so many musicians today miss out the verse --the verse is half the beauty of the tune.

On the subject of Eddie Lang--I would not think a musician of his caliber would use a capo!
Eddie was a 'one -off'----a true genius. Check out on Youtube Eddie's solo 'April Kisses'--Flawless! An absolute gem.

guitarbanjoman - Posted - 05/23/2021:  13:19:42

Yeah, I know it sounds crazy.

But if you take your guitar and try playing along with Eddie —- either “Singin’ the Blues” or “Virginia”—- both with and without a capo, you will soon see the difference....

... with a capo it’s easy... but without a capo it’s crazy hard.

guitarbanjoman - Posted - 05/24/2021:  05:41:05

Here's a 1985 recording of me with my band, the Rainbow Gardens Orchestra, playing "I"m Comin' Virginia", using a capo on the first fret...

craig wood - Posted - 05/24/2021:  13:21:44

Will..great band..What a thrill to have played with those musicians. Tell me this.
My old dixie book(fabulous) has the 2nd chord written as a Cm..that is on the chorus.... Eb to Cm..Having Listened to several recordings, all seem to play a C7, not Cm. My recording is a C7. Originally i played the Cm. But changed.
Here is the thing..On your recording in the beginning after your dead on guitar lick..the band goes (in the chorus) to a Cm..However, after playing the verse, in the
chorus, the band plays a C7. What gives?

guitarbanjoman - Posted - 05/24/2021:  14:56:56

Oh, man, I wish I could tell you, Craig, but I don’t know...

...we had a wonderful arranger, Martin Loomer, who transcribed our charts from the old recordings...

...Martin had a big ears, so I will bet that he got those chords directly from the Bix recording, he wasn’t one to make stuff up...

Sometimes just that subtle little difference between a m7 chord and a regular 7 chord gives the listener a nice little surprise... you know the Rogers and Hart song “The Blue Room”...? It uses that trick...

Here’s one of my all time favourite recordings, it is by the Venuti-Lang Blue Four...

On the chorus first time, the chords go F/Dm7 Gm7/C7 under the lyrics “We’ll have a blue room...”

...but right after that they change to F/D7 Gm7/C7 under the lyrics “a new room for two room”...

... a little genius touch by a genius composer, Richard Rodgers!

Edited by - guitarbanjoman on 05/24/2021 15:06:28

Don Lewers - Posted - 05/24/2021:  18:06:36

Really enjoyed listening to you playin' along with your band Will, must bring back many fond memories for you, from yesteryear. ..... Don.

Don Lewers - Posted - 05/26/2021:  11:27:13

Craig, well I never!, this clip bobbed up on my You Tube homepage, Bix's original solo of ''I'm Coming Virginia.'' ..... Don

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories