Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

201
Banjo Lovers Online


Discussion Forum

Want to hide these Google ads? Join the Players Union!

 All Forums
 Other Banjo-Related Topics
 Other Banjo-Related Topics: Clawhammer/Old-Time
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Looking for info on the Weems String Band


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.banjohangout.org/archive/124170

banjo_on_the_lump - Posted - 08/12/2008:  07:00:08


Recently discovered this Old Time String Band from Perry County, TN - Weems String Band (1928 - 1930). To say they have a unique sound seems to be an understatment.

All I know about them is there was three brothers and their brother-in-law Dick Weems – fiddle, Frank Weems - fiddle, Jesse Weems – cello and Alvin Condor – banjo.

Seems they recorded for Columbia and as far as I've been able to research had two tunes Greenback Dollar & Davy.

Did they record more than two tunes? Any additional info greatly appreciated.

Banjo

"Ya got time to breath, ya got time for music" Brisco Darlin


Edited by - banjo_on_the_lump on 08/12/2008 07:01:06

Richard Dress - Posted - 08/12/2008:  08:13:48


They seemed to have recorded only that one record (COLUMBIA-15300-D) on 9 DEcember 1927. (The search goes from 1924 to 1932) They might have recorded for other labels but I haven't seen them. Get a free MP3 download here: http://weems-string-band-greenback-...net/_/386605

Ronnie - Posted - 08/12/2008:  09:15:11


My late father was born and raised in Perry County TN. I remember him mentioning the band several times. Several Weems family members still live in Perry Co. I am not
acquainted with them, but I am sure they are relatives of the band members. As I recall, they pronounce the name "Wims."

www.bobbythompsonbanjo.com

campbelldb - Posted - 08/12/2008:  09:52:47


Found some brief info on answers.com at: http://www.answers.com/topic/weems-string-band


Randy Adams - Posted - 08/12/2008:  14:05:41


Not much more help here...but you can listen to their 2 tunes. I sent a friend request a month or so ago....whoever runs the myspace site hasn't logged on for a year or so. Coupla good tunes tho!

http://www.myspace.com/weemsfamilystringband


Randy Adams
http://www.myspace.com/oldtimetunes
www.myspace.com/littlebrownjugband
http://ezfolk.com/audio/randyadams

ballbanjos - Posted - 08/13/2008:  14:49:24


Joe Bussard (78 collector extraordinaire) tells a story about a person who called him up one day, wondering if he might know anything about a record that a relative of theirs had recorded many years ago. The person's name was Weems and was from Perry County. Joe said, "You mean the Weems Stringband, the best @#$% band that ever recorded???"

Anyway, Joe probably knows as much about the Weems Stringband as anyone. Google Joe Bussard and you'll find his website and contact information.

I think that one record is all they ever recorded commercially. I have a copy, and it's one of my very favorite 78s.

Dave

banjo_on_the_lump - Posted - 08/21/2008:  13:36:23


Found photo of the Weems String Band I posted on my page.

Banjo

"Ya got time to breath, ya got time for music" Brisco Darlin

nyoka0220 - Posted - 10/19/2008:  01:41:08


The Weems String Band only had the two tunes. While in Memphis trying to record music, they were told they had to have words to go with it. Since they needed money to return home to Perry County, Dick went back to the hotel room and wrote the words to Greenback Dollar, thus getting to record. Dick's grandson, Bruce Weems is still living, but Dick's fiddle and most of his music and photo's are now in the possession of my son-in-law, Nick Weems in Perry County, TN. They did indeed have a very unique sound.

Boyd1 - Posted - 10/19/2008:  13:07:16


The book "R. Crumb's Heroes of Blues, Jazz and Country" (Abrams 2006) with text by Stephen Calt, David Jasen and Richard Nevins says this:

"Weems String Band recorded only one record, for Columbia Records in 1928, but this is considered by many to be the single finest white traditional recording of the period. The band's unusual style featured ultra-staccato phrasing and highly creative melodic variations usually led by two fiddles playing in second and third position. Second and third positions were almost always the domain of classically trained violinists. The Weems String Band from deep in the backcountry of Perry County, Tennessee, would logically seem to be among the least likely candidates for using such sophisticated techniques. The doubly ironic observation is that the band produced, within the context of this sophisticated approach, the most primative and archaic sound. This paradoxical contrast is at the heart of Weem's unique appeal. Brothers Dick and Frank were the fiddlers, and a third brother, Jesse, played bowed cello. Brother-in-law Alvin Conder played banjo and sang. Two younger family members not present on their recordings are shown far left and far right in the illustration (their names, unfortunately are unknown). The band's use of variations of the basic melody put it in a league by itself. Few traditional groups had either the inclination or the imagination to use variations at all, and no group equaled the brilliant creativity of the Weems String Band."

***************************
Anything you can imagine is real. - Pablo Picasso

nyoka0220 - Posted - 10/19/2008:  14:55:12


The other two members were Atlas "Dodge" Conder, and Ray Hinson who is Dick Weems step-son, and is still living here in Perry County.

Ronnie - Posted - 10/19/2008:  18:02:44


I remember Dodge Conder had a little grocery store up there. There was a gentleman by the name of Weems who used to work at the Perryville Boat Dock across the river years ago. Beautiful country in Perry County.

www.bobbythompsonbanjo.com


Edited by - Ronnie on 10/19/2008 18:06:14

oldwoodchuckb - Posted - 10/19/2008:  21:33:54


I assume Perry County is also the home of the "Perry County Music Makers", who used a zither (probably a table zither at that - a deep instrument found mostly among German and nordic immigrants much further north than Tennessee). THey are really only known for one tune "I'm Sad and Blue" but that tune made their reputation.
They recorded a total of 4 sides in the 20s or 30s but Davis Unlimited - I've forgotten Davis's first name - recorded them in the 1960s or 70s and put out an lp. I think that lp may have been re-issued as a cd recently. No banjo on any track - but hey the Weems band didn't have a banjo either.

If you are interested in what I say and would like to know more, it ony cost the price of an email. Send it to: oldwoodchuckb@yahoo.com, with "RSB" in the subject line you will get a free copy of Rocket Science Banjo complete with about 40 ez clawhammer tunes. I neither keep nor re-use your email.



WATCHTHISSPACEWATCHTHISSPACEWATCHTHISSPACEWATCHTHISSPACEWATCHTHIS!

You can watch the videos for some Rocket Science Banjo subjects starting here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HdRuf4X0X7g
Banjo Brad is hosting How To Mold A Mighty Pinky adn other material at
http://home.thegrid.net/~fjbrad/id20.html



Mirek Patek - Posted - 10/20/2008:  02:07:03


quote:
Originally posted by oldwoodchuckb

I assume Perry County is also the home of the "Perry County Music Makers", who used a zither (probably a table zither at that - a deep instrument found mostly among German and nordic immigrants much further north than Tennessee). THey are really only known for one tune "I'm Sad and Blue" but that tune made their reputation.
They recorded a total of 4 sides in the 20s or 30s but Davis Unlimited - I've forgotten Davis's first name - recorded them in the 1960s or 70s and put out an lp. I think that lp may have been re-issued as a cd recently. No banjo on any track - but hey the Weems band didn't have a banjo either.

If you are interested in what I say and would like to know more, it ony cost the price of an email. Send it to: oldwoodchuckb@yahoo.com, with "RSB" in the subject line you will get a free copy of Rocket Science Banjo complete with about 40 ez clawhammer tunes. I neither keep nor re-use your email.
Is the Perry County Music Makers band discussed in Rocket Science Banjo complete?

Mirek

-------------------------------------------------
http://www.youtube.com/user/mirekpatek
http://www.geocities.com/patekstylebanjo
I like http://www.metronomeonline.com/

Ronnie - Posted - 10/20/2008:  08:51:01


My memory banks have faded through the years. I think maybe Dodge Conder had a repair shop of some sort over on the Tennessee river.

www.bobbythompsonbanjo.com


Edited by - Ronnie on 10/20/2008 08:51:41

nyoka0220 - Posted - 10/20/2008:  12:55:32


You are right on both accounts Ronnie. They also owned Conder Chevrolet which has been gone here for some time now. I spoke with my son-in-law yesterday who is Dick Weems great grandson and he has one fiddle and another cousin of his in Paris, TN got the other one of Dick's fiddles. Nick also has most of the hand me down stuff of his. But, it is more interesting in talking with Ray Hinson, Dick's step-son. Even though he is up in years, he has so many interesting stories about the band members and their visits to Memphis, the Grand Ole Opry and just playing around here. Ray says you did not live with Dick or even visit unless you played an instrument. But, of course back in those days, that is all there was to do was sit around with family and friends and pick.

oldwoodchuckb - Posted - 10/20/2008:  12:56:40


I don't go in to discussing many bands in the book - but maybe when I do more on vocals and folk songs I'll write up "Im Sad And Blue"
I gues we did more to Greenback Dollar than I remember (must have been a matter of vocal range - I didn't sing it so I cant' remember). The original is indeed in C. I had also forgotten how that short-bow technique on the cello really drives the rhythm. If only they had recorded a all thier dance tunes.

If you are interested in what I say and would like to know more, it ony cost the price of an email. Send it to: oldwoodchuckb@yahoo.com, with "RSB" in the subject line you will get a free copy of Rocket Science Banjo complete with about 40 ez clawhammer tunes. I neither keep nor re-use your email.



WATCHTHISSPACEWATCHTHISSPACEWATCHTHISSPACEWATCHTHISSPACEWATCHTHIS!

You can watch the videos for some Rocket Science Banjo subjects starting here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HdRuf4X0X7g
Banjo Brad is hosting How To Mold A Mighty Pinky adn other material at
http://home.thegrid.net/~fjbrad/id20.html



Ronnie - Posted - 10/20/2008:  14:11:03


Just for the record, do you'uns say Weems with a long E or pronounce it like Wims?

www.bobbythompsonbanjo.com


Edited by - Ronnie on 10/20/2008 14:12:28

nyoka0220 - Posted - 10/20/2008:  20:45:40


Weems with a long E. The first Weems to come to Perry Co, was Augustus and he spelled his name Wims on some of the documents I have found at the court house. He children started with the Weems spelling. Just curious, you said you had family here at one time, when was the last time you visited Perry Co.



Ronnie - Posted - 10/21/2008:  07:36:29


A couple of years, my folks were over on Cedar Creek mostly. Many of my ancestors are in the old Bunch cemetery. I mentioned the name Weems once to a Perry Co, native who corrected me and said Wims. I am related to the Collins, Hickerson, Moore, Magee. Bunch, and Fluty families among others. James Lloyd Sloan of Linden was a cousin whom I visited frequently years ago. The old folks are gone, and there are new generations I haven't become acquainted with yet. I think about this every time I go to Nashville on I40 and cross Hwy 13. My grandparents on the Collins side moved to to west Tennessee in 1925 looking for better farm land. I wound up being born in Jackson in 1942.

Sorry about hijacking the thread!!

www.bobbythompsonbanjo.com


Edited by - Ronnie on 10/21/2008 11:54:54

gailg64 - Posted - 10/21/2008:  15:22:06


I am fascinated with these interesting contributions from descendents of the Weems band. I always enjoy it when someone from the region adds insight to the info we have on little-recorded bands such as the wonderful Weems SB. Ain't the internet grand???

Weems/Wims: Could the different pronunciations of Weems have reflected a falling out during the War? In my family (Marshall & Lincoln Counties which straddles the eastern Highland Rim) the bunch of Gillespies who lived on the rocky limestone ridges of the Rim changed the spelling of Gillespie to Gillispie to distinguish themselves from those in the Elk/TN Valley who raised cotton & tobacco mules & sided with the South during the War.

Banjo content: if you listen closely to recordings from the late 20s-early 30s as well as to old folks recorded in the 70s such as Omer Forster, you'll notice that they did NOT play clawhammer style banjo. The Weems SB, like Humphrey Bate's Possum Hunters, the Fruit Jar Drinkers, the Binkley Bros,, and later, Houston Daniels & the Highland Rim Boys of Waverly TN (with Omer Forster playing 2-finger banjo--recorded on Steve Davis' Davis Unlimited label in the 70s) used a head-spinning variety of 2 & 3 finger picking styles. They also played guitar banjos & tenor banjos in conjunction with a picked banjo--& sometimes 2 picked banjos together. There were some pockets of clawhammer in the Smokies & Cumberlands, but in general, throughout much of TN, up-picking was the overall style of banjo -- especially in the Tennessee Valley, Sequatchie Valley, & into the Highland & Cumberland Rim areas. Even the Birchfields of Roan Mt. up-picked, though in a "gallopy" rhythm. Basically, it's safe to say that the dominant old-time banjo sound of pre-revival banjo players of Middle TN (including Dave Macon, the "squire of Readyville", and the amazing Murph Gribble of Campaign) was roll-style up-pickin', either 2 or 3 finger.
Gail

quote:
Originally posted by Ronnie

A couple of years, my folks were over on Cedar Creek mostly. Many of my ancestors are in the old Bunch cemetery. I mentioned the name Weems once to a Perry Co, native who corrected me and said Wims. I am related to the Collins, Hickerson, Moore, Magee. Bunch, and Fluty families among others. James Lloyd Sloan of Linden was a cousin whom I visited frequently years ago. The old folks are gone, and there are new generations I haven't become acquainted with yet. I think about this every time I go to Nashville on I40 and cross Hwy 13. My grandparents on the Collins side moved to to west Tennessee in 1925 looking for better farm land. I wound up being born in Jackson in 1942.

Sorry about hijacking the thread!!

www.bobbythompsonbanjo.com



"Time is music" - Paul Sutphiin

nyoka0220 - Posted - 10/23/2008:  12:05:15


Alot of Hickerson's in this area for sure. Some of them race car drivers. Guess you never know who you might be related to. The gentlemen talking about the different bands, and Houston Daniel of Waverly. Houston was a cousin of my husbands family. Well anyway, I hope the information on the Weems Band was helpful. You all take care and if you ever get a chance to visit Perry County, come on down. Great pickin' fishing, hunting, food, and just good ole folks all around.

Ronnie - Posted - 10/23/2008:  12:21:07


Grandma was Rutha HIckerson. She and my grand dad Rob Collins first met at the cave spring on Cedar Creek. They were married in 1907. They couldn't figure out what to name my dad who was born in 1911. They went down to the river and met a gentlemen by the name of Ben Howard, who lived not far from Dodge Conder's place, as I recall. They figured Ben Howard might be a good name for my dad, Ben Howard Collins. Don't want to bore you with my genealogy. I have gotten lost a few times in the hinterlands and asked directions. I would be asked "Who air ye?" After I explained my daughter and I had relatives there I would usually be treated to a glass of iced tea, (maybe a good meal) and conversation. Perry Countians had their own language, which sadly is disappearing since TVA brought electricity and the media into the back country sometime in the early 1950's.

I don't know if I am related to the Weems family, but Perry county is a second home to me.


www.bobbythompsonbanjo.com


Edited by - Ronnie on 10/25/2008 15:54:38

gailg64 - Posted - 10/23/2008:  13:48:30


The "gentleman" was me, Gail Gillespie. Since my sig. quote from Mt. Airy guitarist Paul Sutphin confuses people, I should probaby take it off, nice as it is.

Wow--Houston Daniel was a GREAT fiddler! Do you know if there are any home recordings around? The Omer Forster / Highland Rim Boys recording is available on CD through Springfed Records in Woodbury, TN.(Close to Dave Macon's old homeplace on the Woodbury Pike.) If Daniel's familiy doesn't have it, they can order the CD -- a reissue of the 1970s LP originally on the Davis Unlimited label--on-line on the springfed website or get it from the Cannon County Arts Council. Great band & of course fabulous 2-finger banjo playing by Omer Forster.

Thanks! My husband & I are planning on going to Breakin' Up Winter this year, so visiting is a real possibility.
Gail


peo

quote:
Originally posted by nyoka0220

Alot of Hickerson's in this area for sure. Some of them race car drivers. Guess you never know who you might be related to. The gentlemen talking about the different bands, and Houston Daniel of Waverly. Houston was a cousin of my husbands family. Well anyway, I hope the information on the Weems Band was helpful. You all take care and if you ever get a chance to visit Perry County, come on down. Great pickin' fishing, hunting, food, and just good ole folks all around.





"Time is music" - Paul Sutphiin

witty banjo related username - Posted - 10/25/2008:  18:10:44


I'm a bit of a fan (if understatement is your game) of the Weems String Band. I was surprised to find, here http://www.juneberry78s.com/sounds/...Requests.htm sorry, I can't figure out how to link, about halfway down the page, between the Red Fox Chasers and Casey Smith, is a Weems String Band track that is neither Davy nor Greenback Dollar. Listening to it now, I am undecided as to whether it is the same Weems String Band. It's good nonetheless.

witty banjo related username - Posted - 10/25/2008:  18:12:00


Wow it links by itself. The future is already here.

Ronnie - Posted - 10/25/2008:  22:36:12


Oh Wow! Thank you for the link. I am a collector of old 78's and have a good many of the original recordings!

www.bobbythompsonbanjo.com

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories

0.046875