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Thread: Blues, Stomps & Rags #26

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    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default Blues, Stomps & Rags #26

    For an oft-cited and well-respected blues mandolinist, Will Weldon was an elusive figure. I found conflicting information as to who he was, and little on what he recorded. Rich Del Grosso said that Weldon, the mandolinist, was for a time husband to the great blues singer and guitarist, Memphis Minnie, and was better known as Casey Bill Weldon, the "Hawaiian Guitar Wizard." DelGrosso teaches a tune called "Will Weldon's Blues" in Mandolin Blues, but doesn't credit it the tune to Weldon, nor can I find a version of it by Weldon, so perhaps Del Grosso wrote this blues in the style of Will Weldon (DelGrosso p.35-7). On the other hand, the Wikipedia article on William "Casey Bill" Weldon, known as the "Hawaiian Guitar Wizard," tells us, "Only recently it has been widely accepted that he is not the musician Will Weldon, who recorded between 1927 and 1928 as a member of the Memphis Jug Band."

    I had difficulty finding recordings with Will Weldon playing mandolin. DAHL, the Discography of American Historical Recordings at U of California, Santa Barbara, lists four records on which Weldon plays with the Memphis Sheiks, the Memphis Jug Band, and the Carolina Peanut Boys, all more or less the same band, led by Will Shade. However, on further examination, the personnel on these recordings include: Will Weldon (instrumentalist : mandolin) Not confirmed. Other sources attribute the mandolin on at least one of these songs, "This Will Bring You Back," to Vol Stevens (see Blues, Stomps & Rags #20).

    So here's to Will Weldon, apparently a great Memphis mandolinist -- whether or not he ever recorded. DAHL attributes the following two tunes to the "not confirmed" Will Weldon. They're fine blues-mandolin pieces, worth hearing, whether played by Weldon, Vol Stevens, or whomever. If anyone can clear up the confusion, please do.

    The first piece was recorded by the Memphis Sheiks (aka Memphis Jug Band) in 1930. If the links don't work, search YouTube for "Round and Round by the Memphis Jug Band (1930)".

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LgStK4bHAo



    The next piece, which highlights the mandolin, was also recorded by the Memphis Jug Band in 1930 under the name, Carolina Peanut Boys. If the links don't work, search YouTube for "You got me rollin' Carolina Peanut Boys".

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qTyYY0KSsg

    "It's just music; you can't break it."

    Buffy Ste-Marie on experimenting with your sound.
    "On Reserve", CBC Radio.

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    Registered User maudlin mandolin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Blues, Stomps & Rags #26

    According to Godrich & Dixon (2nd Edition) Will Weldon played guitar on a few early Memphis Jug Band tracks but the only one where mandolin features is the one you mentioned "You may leave but this will bring you back" where it is credited "unknown mandolin - possibly Will Weldon". Mandolin on "Round and Round" is credited to Vol Stevens.
    The main mandolin player with the Memphis Jug Band appears to be Charlie Burse who recorded more tracks with them than Vol Stevens. Perhaps we could have a feature on him one week?

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    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default Re: Blues, Stomps & Rags #26

    Quote Originally Posted by maudlin mandolin View Post
    According to Godrich & Dixon (2nd Edition) Will Weldon played guitar on a few early Memphis Jug Band tracks but the only one where mandolin features is the one you mentioned "You may leave but this will bring you back" where it is credited "unknown mandolin - possibly Will Weldon". Mandolin on "Round and Round" is credited to Vol Stevens.
    The main mandolin player with the Memphis Jug Band appears to be Charlie Burse who recorded more tracks with them than Vol Stevens. Perhaps we could have a feature on him one week?
    I listened to videos of Memphis JB tunes which had Charlie Burse credited on mandolin. However, after the first few seconds, I could barely hear the mandolin because of the other instruments, so I didn't post the videos. I suspect that Burse was strumming chords or not playing through most of the tunes. In those days the mandolin didn't get its own mike in a recording stdio, so it was like our perennial complaint about jam sessions, it's hard to hear a mandolin when there are guitars, a fiddle, a jug etc. That being said, I'm a bit hard of hearing, so I may be exaggerating the problem. I'll send you the links in a personal message and see what you think.
    "It's just music; you can't break it."

    Buffy Ste-Marie on experimenting with your sound.
    "On Reserve", CBC Radio.

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