by Jack Van Camp
Jazz & Blues News
Dave Weld and Lil' Ed Williams are two of the nicest guys you'd ever want to meet. In fact, it was Dave's idea to do an article for the newsletter - I wasn't going to bother them last time they appeared at the Blind Pig. I knew that Lil' Ed was J. B. Hutto's nephew and that Hutto had taught Ed how to play guitar, but I was surprised to find out from Weld that he, too, had learned from Hutto. J. B. Hutto was a popular singer and slide guitarist in Chicago clubs in the 50s and 60s. He began touring the club and concert circuit in the late 60s until his death in 1983. To experience the Hutto sound, check out J. B. Hutto and the Hawks on Testament Records (TCD 5020).
"I was playing before I got to Chicago, but when I got to Chicago, I did a story on J. B. for Living Blues magazine - it was about '75 or '76," Weld said. I spent the next two years after that every Tuesday night at J. B.'s house playing. . . and eventually after the first year, he introduced me to his nephew Lil' Ed." After a while Dave and Ed, along with Ed's brother James Young, started playing "the rough and tumble $15-a-night bars on the west side of Chicago." Weld also started playing with Hound Dog Taylor's band, The Houserockers, right after Taylor had passed away. He played with them for about a year, and then he was with Howlin' Wolf's old band, The Wolf Pack, led by Eddie Shaw.
Weld credits Hutto with giving him the confidence to play in public. "He was the guy that said, 'You can make it!' He was the guy that said, 'I'm going to play rhythm for you so that you can learn to play lead.' And he played rhythm for me," Weld said. "That's a hell of a guy!"
Hutto taught them both well. Nobody around today can touch Ed on slide, and if you've ever seen Weld play, you wouldn't think he'd ever had a problem playing in public. The guy plays like he was born with a guitar in his hands. You can always count on one or the other or both to join the crowd, playing as they wind their way around the room, on top of the bar, out the door and back in again, back to the stage - all without missing a lick. The Imperial Flames always look like they are having a good time and that they really, really enjoy playing the blues.
Weld is excited about their new release, Keep on Walkin (Earwig). "We're real proud of it. It's real diverse; we do all styles of blues," he said. All the songs are original except for one cover which is, naturally, a J. B. Hutto tune called "Combination Boogie." "We do acoustic - we've got three or four acoustic numbers, a rhythm and blues old-time love ballad. We do soul blues, boogie woogie, straight-ahead shuffle, up-tempo, and a couple of low-down slow, and a minor key drag," he said. And yes, Ed does play slide on the acoustic numbers.
Do yourself a favor - buy their new CD to tide you over 'til the next time Lil' Ed and Dave Weld and the Imperial Flames are in town.
excerpted from Jazz & Blues News
Volume 6, Number 1
Check out the artist's website:
1. North Carolina Bound (acoustic duo)
2. Combination Boogie
3. I'm Not A Slave
4. Confess Diane
5. So Long, So Long
6. Let's Boogie Baby
7. Lonely, Lonely (When Evening Comes)
8. Too late Baby
9. New Year's Resolution
10. Sweet Shiny Brown Eyes
11. I Can't Have Nothing
12. Keep On Walkin'
13. Set My Sight On You
14. North Carolina Bound (band)