Casey Bill Weldon: A somewhat overlooked blues gem of the 1930s

Casey Bill Weldon is not exactly a household name. Why is that?
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Casey Bill Weldon was an American blues musician active in the 1930s, renowned for his distinctive slide guitar prowess and expressive vocal style. It is believed he was born around 1909 in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. His birth name was William Weldon, with "Casey" likely derived from the abbreviation for Kansas City. Weldon's music career flourished in 1930s Chicago, a bustling hub of blues activity.

Rapidly gaining prominence, he became a sought-after session musician, contributing his talents as a sideman to various blues artists of that era. Weldon's expertise lay in skillful slide guitar playing, using a slide on his finger to craft a unique sound.

Casey Bill Weldon songs

Notable recordings by Weldon include "W. P. A. Blues" (essentially "Welfare Blues"), "Somebody Changed the Lock on My Door," and "I Believe I'll Make a Change" (reminiscent of "Dust My Broom"). His songs often delved into themes of hardship, love, and personal struggles, mirroring the experiences of African Americans during that era.

Weldon's musical style blended elements of Delta blues with a style that influenced the eventual emergence of electric blues and blues rock (old blues has a way of being a "sound of the time" while also sounding timeless). His guitar work features intricate slide techniques, melodious phrasing, and a soulful, emotionally charged delivery that conveys a rawness.

The mystery of Casey Bill Weldon

Despite his talent and contributions to the blues genre, Casey Bill Weldon's recording career was relatively short-lived. He recorded for several labels during the 1930s, including Vocalion and Bluebird, but his recording career concluded by the early 1940s. Regrettably, limited information exists about Casey Bill Weldon's life and activities following his recording career. He appears to have largely withdrawn from the music scene, and the specifics of his later life and death remain elusive.

Although his recordings are not as widely recognized today, Casey Bill Weldon's music has garnered recognition and appreciation among blues enthusiasts and collectors over the years. His distinctive slide guitar style and heartfelt vocals continue to resonate with audiences intrigued by the history and evolution of blues music. It's worth noting that only one known photograph of Weldon exists, making it a standing challenge for anyone to find additional images of him.

Even with the racial discrimination of the era, it is still somewhat puzzling that more information is not available about him, given that the records he played on reportedly achieved commercial success. It's possible that he was a private individual. Additionally, his physical records remain sought-after and valuable collector's items, probably partly because of his mystique. When discussing his legacy, much of the emphasis is on his guitar prowess, but it's important to note that he was also a skilled blues vocalist. Go ahead and check his songs out!

His songs do apparantly receive thousands of listens a month, which suggests he's not totally unknown. He also appears on an album called Bottleneck Guitar Trendsetters Of The 1930s, typically selling for $20 (which is not the cheapest price, suggesting records containing his material are collector's items).

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