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Casey Bill Weldon

Steel guitarist Will Weldon is remembered as Casey Bill Weldon, and was also known in his time as Kansas City Bill and Levee Joe. "Casey", like "KC" or "Kaycee," referred to his links with the Kansas City music scene, although he could just as easily have been named after Pine Bluff, AK where he was born in 1909, or Atlanta or Memphis where he made his first recordings in 1927 after performing in medicine shows throughout the south. Inspired directly by the great Peetie Wheatstraw, Weldon was equally adept at expressing himself as a passionate blues singer and as a honky-tonk "country" performer who contributed to the development of Western swing. He was sometimes billed as the Hawaiian Guitar Wizard. The "Guitar Wizard" handle was borrowed from Tampa Red whereas the Polynesian reference stems back through Sol Hoopi's influence on the transportation of guitars by Portuguese sailors in the 18th century, and the subsequent development of the steel guitar by indigenous Hawaiians. Weldon's use of the steel (as opposed to bottleneck slide) guitar as a blues instrument was innovative, and his stylistic choices have since made him difficult to pigeonhole. Events leading to the dissolution of his short-lived marriage to Memphis Minnie may have inspired his three best-known tunes, which are staples in the classic blues repertoire: "Somebody's Got to Go," "Somebody Changed the Lock on My Door," and "We Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town."

Weldon recorded extensively under his own name during the years 1935-1938. Additionally, a thorough examination of his 11-year recording career reveals collaborations with Memphis Minnie, the Memphis Jug Band, Charlie Burse & the Picaninny Jug Band, Vol Stevens, Ollie Rupert, Leroy Henderson, Arnett Nelson, Tampa Red, Big Bill Broonzy, Charlie & Joe McCoy, Amos Easton (also known as Bumble Bee Slim); Blind Teddy Darby, the Hokum Boys, the Brown Bombers of Swing, Washboard Sam, and of course Peetie Wheatstraw, the Devil's Son-in-Law. Although no studio recordings seem to have been made after December 1938, Weldon is known to have performed using an electrically amplified guitar in 1941, and following a move to Los Angeles, he is known to have provided incidental music for film soundtracks. In 1968, guitarist Ted Bogan ran into him in Chicago. Weldon told him he had given up being a musician and was engaged in some other line of work in Detroit. Perhaps that is where he died. Nearly 60 years after they first appeared, Casey Bill Weldon's primary recordings were reissued in three volumes by the Document label, and various selections of his works have since been presented by Document's offshoot Classic Blues as well as the EPM, Catfish, and Fremeaux labels. It is unfortunate that Weldon does not appear on Proper's Steelin' It: The Steel Guitar Story, but then neither does the amazing Ceele Burke, who recorded with Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Fats Waller in the ‘30s. Nor does Luther Jones, whose Hawaiian-style steel guitar added luster to the provocative "Grunt Meat Blues" as recorded by the Memphis Seven in 1947 and reissued years later in Columbia's box set Roots n' Blues: The Retrospective 1925-1950, a multi-racial, multi-genre collection with a lengthy personnel listing which unfortunately does not include Casey Bill Weldon. ~ arwulf arwulf
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Bill Wyman's Blues Odyssey

Disc 1

1. Goin' Crazy With The Blues

2. Lock And Key

3. All I Want Is A Spoonful

4. Matchbox Blues

6. Southern Rag

7. What's The Matter Blues

8. Stack O' Lee Blues

9. Pine Top's Boogie Woogie

10. Indiana Avenue Stomp

12. Shake It And Break It (But Don't Let It Fall Mama)

14. Blue Goose Blues

15. The Dirty Dozen

17. P**sy Cat Blues

18. Searching The Desert For The Blues

19. Cows, See That Train Comin'

20. West Dallas Drag

21. Ramblin With That Woman

22. W.P.A. Blues

23. Honky Tonk Train Blues

Disc 2

1. Terraplane Blues

2. Ice Pick Mama

3. Gamblin' Jinx Blues

5. Good Boy

6. Alley Boogie

7. Meat Shakin' Woman

9. Special Agent (Railroad Police Blues)

10. Roll 'Em Pete

11. Jersey Belle Blues

12. Brown Skin Girl

13. Beer Drinking Woman

14. Me And My Chauffeur Blues

15. Baby, Please Don't Go

16. Dive Bomber

18. Kid Man Blues

19. Boogie Chillen'

20. You're Gonna Miss Me (When I'm Dead And Gone)

22. 3 O'Clock Blues

23. Dust My Broom

x

Track List: Progressions: 100 Years Of Jazz Guitar

Disc 1

2. Chain Gang Blues

5. Add A Little Wiggle

13. Swingin' On The Strings

15. Guitar Swing

17. Whispering

Disc 2

3. What Is This Thing Called Love

4. Body And Soul

7. Mountain Melody

8. Yardbird Suite

9. The Boy Next Door

13. Bluesette

14. Midnight Blue

15. Unit 7

17. Move

18. Easy Living

19. Jean De Fleur

20. Night And Day

Disc 3

1. Clockwise

2. Just Friends

4. How Insensitive

5. Gypsy Queen

7. As We Used To Sing

12. Ralph's Piano Waltz

13. The Prowler

14. Bright Size Life

16. Midnight In San Juan

Disc 4

5. Captain Fingers

7. Race With Devil On Spanish Highway

8. Cause We've Ended As Lovers

9. Church

11. Hottentot

x

Track List: Slidin' On The Frets: The Hawaiian Steel Guitar Phenomenon

1. My Little Grass Shack In Kealakekua

2. Pame Sti Honoloulou

3. Don't Sell It--Don't Give It Away

4. Milenberg Joys

5. My Little Blue Heaven

6. Why My Craf Vex With Me

7. Down In Waikiki

8. Honolulu Stomp

9. U Like, Noa Like

10. Mindanao March

11. Everybody Does It In Hawaii

12. Ghost Dance

13. You'll Never Find A Daddy Like Me

14. La Portena Es Una Papa

15. Has My Gal Been Here

16. Smiles

17. Clowin' The Frets

18. Caresses Venitiennes

19. Guitar Rag

20. The Cat's Whiskers

21. Happy Hawaiian Blues

22. Drifting And Dreaming

23. Sliding On The Frets

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