Document DOCD-5219 Casey Bill Weldon Vol 3 Complete Recorded Titles 1935-1938.
Casey Bill Weldon, vocal, steel guitar
With appearances by Clifford Medlock, vocal; Harry Singleton, vocal; Calvin Dillard, vocal; Big Bill Broonzy, guitar, Ransom Knowling, stand-up bass; and others…
Informative booklet notes by Dave Moore.
Casey Bill Weldon’s complete recorded titles can be found on Document DOCD-5217, DOCD-5218, DOCD-5219, DOCD-5276, DOCD-5321, DOCD-5525.
According to the billing on his March 1937 recordings, Casey Bill Weldon was accompanied by “His Orchestra”. The line-up included a clarinet, probably played by his colleague, Arnett Nelson, as well as an unknown tenor saxophonist on Give Me Another Shot. Some of the titles recorded that day dispensed with the reeds and reverted to the more usual guitar, piano and bass backing.
The following August saw a pair of numbers recorded by Weldon and friends under the name of “The Brown Bombers of Swing”, this no doubt inspired by the new black hero, and heavyweight boxing champion of the world, Joe Louis, “The Black Bomber”. Weldon was accompanied by a talented second guitarist as well as a vocal trio, and the aptly titled Guitar Swing offers a dazzling display of Weldon’s skills.
Weldon was back in the studio the following October, this time with the smaller, but effective group of just second guitar and bass. This unknown guitarist contributed some exciting instrumental breaks and a claim has been made that he was one of the most outstanding guitarists of the Thirties. Some discographers suggest that he was Big Bill Broonzy, but the name of Ikey Robinson has also been proposed. He can be heard to good effect on Sales Lady, You Shouldn’t Do That, Go Ahead, Buddy and Red Hot Blues. Although mainly credited to “Casey Bill”, the label billing of “Casey Bill and The Brown Bombers of Swing” was again used for one coupling from these sessions. Later that month two more songs were recorded by Casey Bill with “His Orchestra”. These were a lively remake, New Round and Round, and a seasonable Christmas Time Blues. Again Arnett Nelson is the probable clarinettist, and Charlie McCoy is suggested as the second guitarist.
Weldon made no more recordings until over a year later, in December 1938, when he returned to the Bluebird label. By this time he was playing an amplified lap steel guitar, backed simply by a bass and piano (Joshua Altheimer or Blind John Davis). Weldon begins the first of the four numbers from this session, I Believe Your’e Cheatin’ On Me, with the opening phrase from Steel Guitar Rag. This tune originated in 1923 with a recording by Sylvester Weaver (Guitar Rag, see Document DOCD-5112) and was later picked up by the Western Swing bands and in particular by Bob Will’ Texas Playboys, when it was played by steel-guitarist Leon McAuliffe.
Midnight Blues, the last recording of the session, is remarkable for Weldon’s solo which comprises the same repeated note, held for seven and a half bars, reminiscent of Omer Simeon’s classic clarinet solo in Jelly Roll Morton’s Red Hot Peppers’ 1926 version of Doctor Jazz Stomp.
Casey Bill Weldon’s name is secure in blues history as the innovator of an intriguing and unique sound.