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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: Casey Bill Weldon Vol. 1 1935-1936

1. As The Clock Struck Four

2. Doctor's Blues

3. Race Horse Filly Blues

4. What's The Matter With My Milk Cow?

5. My Stove Won't Work

6. Somebody Changed The Lock On My Door

7. Long-Eared Mule

8. Somebody's Been Talking To You

9. Howlin' Dog Blues

10. Your Wagon's Worn Out Now

11. Please Come On Down To My House

12. Brown Skin Mama

13. Street Walkin' Blues

14. Arlena

15. Somebody Changed The Lock On My Door

16. W.P.A. Blues

17. Flood Water Blues - No. 1

18. Flood Water Blues - No. 2 (Take 1)

19. Flood Water Blues - No. 2 (Take 2)

20. Let Me Be Your Butcher

21. I Got A Letter This Morning

22. I'm A Stranger In Your Town

23. Has My Gal Been Here?

24. Blues Everywhere I Go

25. Somebody's Got To Go

x

Track List: Casey Bill Weldon Vol. 3 1937-1938

1. Give Me Another Shot

2. I'll Get A Break Someday (Take 1)

3. I'll Get A Break Someday (Take 2)

4. Sold My Soul To The Devil

5. I've Been Tricked

6. No Good Woman

7. Guitar Swing (Take 3)

8. Guitar Swing (Take 4)

9. Walkin' In My Sleep

10. Sales Lady

11. Lady Doctor Blues

12. Casey Bill's New W.P.A.

13. You Shouldn't Do That

14. Rooster Blues

15. Spider Blues

16. Go Ahead, Buddy

17. Red Hot Blues

18. Worried About That Woman

19. You're Laughing Now

20. New Round And Round

21. Christmas Time Blues

22. I Believe You're Cheatin' On Me

23. Way Down In Louisiana

24. You Gotta Do Your Duty

25. Midnight Blues

x

Track List: Casey Bill Weldon Vol. 2 1936-1937

1. Casey Blues

2. I'se Just A Bad Luck Man

3. You Just As Well Let Her Go

4. Keyhole Blues (take 1)

5. Streamline Woman (take 1)

6. Streamline Woman (take 2)

7. Talkin' To Myself

8. Big Katy Adam

9. Two-Timin' Woman

10. Big Bill Blues (These Blues Are Doggin' Me)

11. You Talk In Your Sleep (take 1)

12. You Talk In Your Sleep (take 2)

13. I Believe I'll Make A Change

14. The Big Boat

15. Can't You Remember?

16. Jinx Blues

17. Gonna Take My Time

18. We Gonna Move (To The Outskirts Of Town)

19. Back Door Blues

20. Front Door Blues (take 1)

21. Front Door Blues (take 2)

24. Round And Round (take 1)

25. Round And Round (take 2)

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