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Author Topic: Casey Bill Weldon - photos  (Read 5669 times)

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LoneWolf

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Casey Bill Weldon - photos
« on: January 08, 2007, 01:05:54 PM »
Until today, I thought that this is the only photo of him:




But today I read that there is a photo of him that was taken c. 1941, with an electric guitar!!

Does anybody know where I can find it?

Offline MTJ3

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Re: Casey Bill Weldon - photos
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2007, 04:13:00 PM »
Superseded by subsequent, corrected post.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2007, 09:33:27 AM by MTJ3 »

Offline dj

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Re: Casey Bill Weldon - photos
« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2007, 05:44:19 PM »
Quote
I believe that the photograph you are looking for is on vol. 3 of the CBW Document CDs.

Actually, it's on the cover of Volume 2.  Not a very big or very good reproduction - it's rather dark - but I've never seen a better one.  I have this nagging feeling that I've seen a picture of Weldon seated with a lap steel, but I can't seem to lay my hands on it and may well be confusing it in my mind with a picture of Oscar Woods.


Offline MTJ3

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Re: Casey Bill Weldon - photos
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2007, 06:00:48 PM »
Actually, it's on the cover of Volume 2. 

As noted by dj, the photograph to which you refer is likely the one shown on vol. 2 of CBW CDs issued by Document (DOCD 5218) (not vol. 3, as I previously posted). Unfortunately, the photo is not credited, and one must assume that the good people from Document have done their diligence and aren't having us on by just slapping some old photo lying around on the cover of the Weldon CD.  There are two men in the photograph.  The man holding the archtop (which appears to be a National) is not, I believe, the putative Weldon.  The man to his left appears to be holding a guitar "Hawaiian style," so I would assume that is supposed to be Weldon; as dj notes, the quality of the photo is very poor, and I can't tell if he's holding a wood, steel or lap steel.  Neither of the men in that photo looks to me like the Will Weldon in the photograph that you posted, so I think that supports the argument of those who maintain that there were two guitarists with the surname Weldon (as to which I will provide a further post once I have returned home).
« Last Edit: January 09, 2007, 09:40:32 AM by MTJ3 »

Offline mr mando

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Re: Casey Bill Weldon - photos
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2007, 04:29:34 AM »
From Wirz's site:


bobo

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Re: Casey Bill Weldon - photos
« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2007, 06:17:05 PM »
The photo is credited in the liner notes. It is from the Chicago Defender 1941. The Chicago Defender 1941 info was on another volumn of Casey Bill. The liner notes writer says the guy on the left is Casey Bill. I think it's the guy on the right. He has a lap steel on his lap. You have to blow the picture up and lighten it to see it.

Offline Stefan Wirz

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Re: Casey Bill Weldon - photos
« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2007, 09:34:56 AM »
did just that:

click on picture to further enlarge !

Offline MTJ3

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Re: Casey Bill Weldon - photos
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2007, 09:49:51 AM »
If there is an specific attribution for the photograph on the cover of vol. 2, I can't find it on my copies of the liner notes for the Document CDs.

The "liner notes" to vol. 3 state: "After these final recordings in December 1938, very little is known about Weldon, although a contemporary photograph of him has been discovered, holding an amplified guitar, in the Chicago Defender of January 4, 1941."

As if that's not sufficiently vague and one needs more uncertainty on this issue, the liner notes to vol. 2 (on which the photograph in question appears) state:  "However, both of the surviving photographs of Weldon show him holding a normal guitar, holding and playing it in the standard position."

Assuming that the notes for vol. 2 were written before those for vol. 3 and that the writer of the liner notes had seen the photograph on the cover of vol. 2, I infer from this is that the writer of the liner notes (1) at the time of the writing of the vol. 2 liner notes, had seen two photographs of Weldon (and we don't know whether he was a one Weldon or two Weldon theorist, so we don't know if he was referring to one or more photos of Will Weldon), and (2) at the time of writing of the vol. 3 liner notes, may have seen a third photograph.  Without more, we can't know for certain if there were three photographs.  That (1) in the vol. 2 liner notes, the writer refers to a "normal guitar" (which, in that context, he was distinguishing from a National steel guitar), and (2) in the vol. 3 liner notes, the writer refers to an "amplified guitar" may suggest that there may have been three photographs because one would have expected the writer to refer also to an "amplified guitar" rather than merely a "normal guitar" in the vol. 2 liner notes as, one might argue, that seemed to be a pertinent distinction to him.  One could probably also make something out of the "has been discovered" statement to bolster the argument that the writer had seen three photographs at the time of the writing of the vol. 3 liner notes after having seen only two at the time of the writing of the vol. 2 liner notes. 

On the other hand, as BH might attest, it is entirely possible that the writer of the liner notes did not see the photograph on vol. 2 before writing those liner notes, and saw it only later, in time to include reference to it in the vol. 3 liner notes.  There are other alternatives, but I'll stop here.

In any case, that's all just speculation, and it would be nice if Dave Moore, the writer of the liner notes, or someone else with first hand knowledge of the matter could clarify this point.

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Casey Bill Weldon - photos
« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2007, 12:00:49 PM »
On the other hand, as BH might attest, it is entirely possible that the writer of the liner notes did not see the photograph on vol. 2 before writing those liner notes, and saw it only later, in time to include reference to it in the vol. 3 liner notes. 
From my brief experience of doing work for Document (Aug 1990-Dec 1995) I'm guessing such is the case Morgan.

However, I've passed on your well argued observations to Dave Moore asking if he would like to lay the matter to rest with an answer that I can pass on here. We'll see what transpires.

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Casey Bill Weldon - photos
« Reply #9 on: January 20, 2007, 03:34:37 AM »
Dave Moore has kindly taken the time and trouble to recount the sequence of events and also his thoughts on the matter.
===========================
OK, here's my reply to the Weldon query, which you can send to the list if you wish.

It's been a while since I wrote the notes for the three Casey Bill Weldon  CDs on Document -- 14 years to be exact -- but I will try to recall the  sequence of events involving the notes and photographs.

I know that I wrote all three notes at the same time. I was probably given a  time limit of about a week for this -- as was usual with Johnny P. At the time I had seen only two photos of Bill Weldon. The first was the one that had graced the covers of the Document, Old Tramp, and Earl LPs of his work, which I'd first seen as part of the group shot of the Memphis Jug Band on the cover of Origin's The Great Jug Bands LP. The second reached me just before I began writing the liner notes, in the form of a blurred and grainy  photocopy from the Chicago Defender of January 4, 1941. This was sent to me by Guido van Rijn, who had obtained it from Ray Funk. This second photo was to appear on the cover of Casey Bill Weldon, Volume 2, although the credit for it was given in the notes for Volume 1! I should say that I had no idea what cover art Johnny intended to use -- I provided merely the notes.

The quality of the photocopy I had of the second photo was so poor that I  could not distinguish that the person on the right had any kind of  instrument. He seemed merely to be standing alongside the guitarist, whom I  naturally took to be Weldon. My remarks concerning a "normal" guitar were  meant to distinguish it from an Hawaiian guitar, which it had been suggested  he played. I was not intending the remark to differentiate between acoustic  or electric instruments.

Having since seen somewhat clearer copies of the second photograph I can now  see that the person on the right does appear to be standing behind an  instrument which could indeed be a lap steel guitar, and if that is the case  I'm happy to assume that it is indeed Weldon. The original copy that Guido  passed on to me did not include any accompanying caption from the newspaper.  I felt that, if it existed it might help clarify the situation. Guido  approached Ray Funk for more information, but I believe none was  forthcoming. Maybe it's still not too late, if a copy of that newspaper can  be located.

If it is Weldon with a lap steel instrument, who is the other guitarist?  Could it be the musician who provided those dazzling accompaniments on  Weldon's October 1937 recordings and who has never been properly identified?  Another topic for discussion, perhaps. 
Dave Moore

Offline Rivers

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Re: Casey Bill Weldon - photos
« Reply #10 on: January 20, 2007, 06:14:31 AM »
I was wondering about the other guy. Not at all sure about this but he looks to me like he could be of Sicilian extraction or similar. Take this wild hypothesis with a grain of salt. The other guy, tentatively Bill, is definitely sitting down playing lap style, not standing.

Are we all convinced that's a National archtop? Apart from the blob of a badge on the peghead it looks like a Gibson to me, especially the pickguard. Whatever, it's got two knobs on it so it's electrified.

Those October 37 recordings contain some of my favorite guitar playing ever. Particularly brilliant is the solo on "You Shouldn't Do That", which I once learned note for note. I still consider it to be near perfection. The swing style and total coolness of the phrasing immediately reminds me of Eddie Lang, but Eddie died in 1933. So if I were a blues detective looking for clues I'd be asking "who else recorded for Vocalion in that period and used a pickup band containing a brilliant jazz guitarist that played like Eddie Lang?"

I notice John M and Stephen Calt's notes to Yazoos Bottleneck Guitar Trendsetters agrees with me and adds some more, quote:
Quote
Of particular interest is the unidentified guitar player on You Just As Well Let Her Go, Go Ahead Buddy, Lady Doctor and You Shouldn't Do That. Behind Weldon's singing he plays full chords in the fashion of Ted Bogan [who worked with Carl Martin and Howard Armstrong]; his elaborate instrumental breaks mark him as one of the most outstanding guitarists of the Thirties. Though discographers identify him as Big Bill Broonzy, his playing is in the style of Banjo Ikey Robinson, and he may even be Robinson himself. Adding further zest to the accompaniment is the presence of Black Bob on Just As Well Let Her Go and the Broonzyish Back Door Blues.

« Last Edit: January 20, 2007, 06:51:11 AM by Rivers »

Offline dj

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Re: Casey Bill Weldon - photos
« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2007, 06:42:00 AM »
Scans of the Chicago Defender from 1921 - 1975 are available on ProQuest.  Since we know the date of the issue in which the photo appeared, it should be easy to find to see what the caption says.  Unfortunately, my library system only has ProQuest access to issues of the Defender dating back to 1999.  Anyone have personal ProQuest access or work for an institution that has access to the historical database? 

Offline MTJ3

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Re: Casey Bill Weldon - photos
« Reply #12 on: January 20, 2007, 08:44:00 AM »
  Are we all convinced that's a National archtop? Apart from the blob of a badge on the peghead it looks like a Gibson to me, especially the pickguard. Whatever, it's got two knobs on it so it's electrified.

You're probably right about the manufacturer of the guitar. My take was entirely impressionistic.  I think I keyed in on the badge.  The fret board looks like that of a Gibson, but I'm not completely convinced on the pickguard.  I sort of see the knobs, but bear in mind that the electric Gibsons of that era were somewhat smaller than the L-5s and L-7s, and this doesn't look small enough to me to be an electric.  Whatever the case may be, you should look to someone with a better knowledge of vintage instruments than I have.

BH,  Many, many thanks. 

I posted some info over on the PWBG a 3 or so years ago on the "two Weldon" question.  I can't seem to find it among my "stuff," but when I unearth it, I will dutifully post same here.




 

Offline Rivers

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Re: Casey Bill Weldon - photos
« Reply #13 on: January 20, 2007, 09:33:27 AM »
Anyone know when the first electric archtops appeared, both National and Gibson? This is a pretty crucial question WRT to the photograph's provenance since I believe I can see two knobs. Since they're positioned fairly high up (you can make out the F hole very indistinctly below the topmost one), there are probably four, positioned in the typical Gibson diamond pattern. This would in turn indicate two pickups. We need that pickup date, the photo may be from a much later era. Or a fake I suppose.

Other things one can notice is it's a sunburst. The peghead, and possibly the fretboard, are bound and the fret markers are large. This would indicate it was a high-end instrument since the low end Gibsons (if it is a Gibson) did not have these appointments.

This reminds me of the David Hemmings / Anotonioni movie "Blow Up"... I think I see a hand coming out of the bushes holding a gun...

Offline waxwing

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Re: Casey Bill Weldon - photos
« Reply #14 on: January 20, 2007, 10:18:32 AM »
Check out this site, Riv. According to this, the ES-100, a "smaller guitar" came out in '38, and the ES-125, which could look very much like this guitar (knob location and trapezoidal fret markers), came out in '41. Epiphone had a big archtop electric from '35 on but, as you pointed out, the knobs are in the wrong location. No info on National electrics on that site, but I think MTJ3 may be right, doesn't look like anyone else's headstock label.

[Edit] I just read back and saw that the picture was published in a '41 issue of the Defender, so I guess the Gibson is a possibility. I was thinking '37 if it was from the recording date under discussion.


All for now.
John C.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2007, 10:22:16 AM by waxwing »
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