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Sylvester Weaver

Sylvester Weaver was a versatile guitarist of Louisville origin who made the first solo recordings of blues guitar playing. Information is lacking on Weaver's early years, though it is not unreasonable to assume that during this time he may have had some connection to the Louisville Jug Bands led by Earl MacDonald and Clifford Hayes. Sylvester Weaver first turns up in New York in 1923, where on October 23 of that year he accompanied vaudeville blues singer Sara Martin on two numbers, "Longing for Daddy Blues" and "I've Got to Go and Leave My Daddy Behind," for Okeh. Two weeks later, Weaver cut his first pair of solo recordings, "Guitar Blues" and "Guitar Rag" for the same concern.

The Sara Martin selections represented the first time on records that a popular female singer had been backed up solely by guitar, and were an immediate success. Weaver would be assigned to cut 25 more selections accompanying Martin in the years through 1927. As to the fate of Weaver's own first recorded solos, they were equally well-received and would prove massively influential in the country market. "Guitar Rag" was later re-invented by Bob Wills into "Steel Guitar Rag" and became a country standard. Through the end of 1927, when Weaver decided to retire from music altogether, he recorded a total of 26 solo sides, and on some of the later ones Weaver was joined by another guitarist, Walter Beasley. In addition to his own solo selections Weaver made four recordings in accompaniment to Beasley. All of the issued records were avidly snapped up by customers in the rural mail order market, and both the Weaver solo items and the Weaver and Beasley records were well-known to string band musicians in the American south and west. Sylvester Weaver's work lies stylistically between blues and country music, and he had considerable impact on both musical fronts; among his recorded solos he made both a banjo record and several solos which make use of a bottleneck style slide (probably a pocket knife in Weaver's case). Although four of Weaver's pieces, including the banjo solo, were rejected by Okeh, all but one of these have been recovered and issued since.

After his heady days in New York had ended, Sylvester Weaver returned to Louisville and entered another line of work. Weaver was almost totally forgotten by the time he died in 1960. One player who still recalled Weaver was Lonnie Johnson, who remembered him as a good player, outstanding songwriter, and somebody who deserved a great deal more credit for his efforts than he would ever receive in his lifetime. In 1992 the Kentucky Blues Society raised enough funds to place a headstone on the grave of Sylvester Weaver, and this same organization presents its Sylvester Weaver Award annually to "those who have dedicated their lives to presenting, preserving, and perpetuating the blues." ~ Uncle Dave Lewis
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Imaginational Anthem Vol. 6 - Origins Of American Primitive Guitar

1. Guitar Rag

2. Buck Dancer's Choice

3. Darkey's Wail

4. Cannon Ball Rag

5. Way Down Yonder Blues

6. Hutchinson's Rag

7. Frisco Blues

8. Fuzzy Rag

9. Knoxville Blues

10. Guitar Blues

11. Jailhouse Rag

12. Tramp Waltz

13. Franklin Blues

14. Jamestown Exhibition

x

Track List: Richer Tradition Country Blues & String Band Music

Disc 1

1. Guitar Blues

2. Time Ain't Gonna Make Me Stay

3. Sundown Blues

4. Salt Lake City Blues

5. Whiskey And Gin Blues

6. James Alley Blues

7. Goin' To Leave You Blues

10. Bamalong Blues

11. Man Trouble Blues

12. Blue Coat Blues

13. Frisco Whistle Blues

14. Two Ways To Texas

15. Gravel Camp Blues

16. T And T Blues

17. Death Bell Blues

18. C.C. & O. Blues

19. Middlin' Blues

20. Rolling Log Blues

21. Kyle's Worried Blues

22. Bull Frog Blues

23. Sobbin' Woman Blues

24. Miss Meal Cramp Blues

25. The Unknown Blues

Disc 2

1. Jail House Blues

2. Blues, Just Blues, That's All

3. String Band Blues

4. Black Cat Blues

5. Dirty Guitar Blues

6. Boodle-Am-Shake

7. Quill Blues

8. The Jug Band Special

9. Cold Morning Shout

10. Violin Blues

11. Easy Winner

12. G. Burns Is Gonna Rise Again

13. I Got A Gal

16. Adam And Eve

17. Runnin' Wild

18. Giving It Away

19. Jackson Stomp

20. Old Hen Cackle

21. Travelin' Railroad Man Blues

22. Old Hen Cackle

23. Ted's Stomp

24. Dusting The Frets

25. Arkansas Traveller

Disc 3

3. Mean Conductor Blues

4. Back Door Blues

5. Spanish Blues

6. Helena Blues

7. I Heard The Voice Of A Pork Chop

8. Rising River Blues

9. She Could Toodle-Oo

10. Weak Minded Woman

11. Old Rock Island Blues

12. Cairo Blues

13. I Ain't Givin' Nobody None

14. Showers Of Rain Blues

15. Framer's Blues

16. If I Call You Mama

17. Never Drive A Stranger From Your Door

18. Mississippi Swamp Moan

19. Paddlin' Madeline Blues

21. South Carolina Rag

23. Poor Jane Blues

24. Window Pane Blues

25. Hot Jelly Roll Blues

Disc 4

1. Labor Blues

2. Goin' Away Blues

3. No Baby

4. Early Mornin' Blues

5. Dreaming Blues

6. Weeping Willow Blues

7. Way Down In Arkansas

8. Wild About My Loving

9. Indian Squaw Blues

10. Florida Bound

11. God Didn't Make No Monkey Man

12. Tallahatchie River Blues

13. Diamond Ring Blues

14. Bedside Blues

15. Lonesome Midnight Dream

16. Billy Goat Blues

17. That Won't Do

18. Ghost Woman Blues

19. 'toby' Woman Blues

20. Rollin' Dough Blues

21. Starvation Farm Blues

22. Farewell To You Baby

23. Teasin' Brown Blues

24. Married Woman Blues

25. Dago Blues

x

Track List: Rough Guide To Unsung Heroes Of Country Blues, Vol. 2

1. Bothering That Thing

2. She's A Fool Gal

3. Niagra Fall Blues

4. The Cat's Got The Measles

5. Lonesome Man Blues

6. This Will Bring You Back

7. Mississippi Bottom Blues

8. Snatch It And Grab It

9. Guitar Rag

10. Lonesome Atlanta Blues

11. Ragtime Millionaire

12. Man Trouble Blues

13. Grand Daddy Blues

14. Religion Is Something Within You

15. Rag Baby

16. Hey Mama - It's Nice Like That, Pt. 2

17. Poor Boy Blues

18. Shake Me Like A Dog

19. Down The Big Road Blues

20. Woman Woman Blues

21. Dupree Blues

22. Mama Don't Rush Me

23. Alabama Blues, Pt. 1

24. Bye Bye Baby Blues

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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