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Wesley Wilson

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  • Born: Jacksonville, FL
  • Died: Cape May Court House, NJ


Biography All Music Guide

All Music Guide:

While just about every early blues musician used a pseudonym at some point, there are some who carried the practice to such extremes that it threatens the possible brevity of any biographical essay. Wesley Wilson was such a creature, although it might be surmised that he could see into the future and was simply avoiding possible associations with the ridiculous Chicago songwriter and performer Wesley Willis, who didn't come along until much later. Wilson was one half of the extremely unappetizing-sounding duo of Pigmeat Pete & Catjuice Charlie, and also recorded as Kid Wilson, Jenkins, Socks, and either Sox Wilson or Socks Wilson. He was most often in the company of Leola Wilson, who was hardly partial to pseudonyms herself. She was better known as Coot Grant, and while their duo did sometimes actually appear as Grant & Wilson, many other names were stuck up on their marquees and emblazoned across their record labels. These include Hunter & Jenkins as well as Kid & Coot.

The duo teamed up around 1905, marrying seven years later. Born Leola Pettigrew, the female artist picked up the nickname Coot Grant as some kind of extension of "cutie." The origins of the name Catjuice Charlie are unknown, but speculation is certainly encouraged. Pigmeat Pete's real name was Harry McDaniels. Wesley Wilson played both organ and piano and was extremely active as a songwriter with his wife, their most famous creation being the demanding anthem "Gimme a Pigfoot," a song strongly associated with classic blues queen Bessie Smith.

Listeners who are made queasy by the subject of noshing on pig's feet may want to avoid this songwriting duo's repertoire of some 400 songs in order to avoid any possible traumatic reactions to ditties such as "Find Me at the Greasy Spoon (If You Miss Me Here" and its companion, "Dirty Spoon Blues." While "I Don't Want That Stale Stuff" and "Boop-Poop-A-Doop" present a gross aura, worst of all might be the scent of "Dem Socks Dat My Pappy Wore." In a rare display of good taste, record companies declined on issuing the pair's "Throat Cutting Blues" completely.

No matter what they called themselves, the Wilson duo did very well in the '20s and early '30s, performing with top bands such as Fletcher Henderson and the collaborative Mezz Mezzrow-Sidney Bechet Quintet. The duo commanded the stage in musical comedies, vaudeville, traveling minstrel shows, and revues. Artistic and professional highlights included working with Louis Armstrong and an appearance in the film Emperor Jones starring Paul Robeson. Despite these promising happenings, the duo wound up doing badly from the mid-'30s onward. There was a complete gap in terms of recording activities from 1933 through 1938, then nothing for nearly a decade until the duo showed up writing material and recording for Mezzrow's King Jazz label. By 1949, Catjuice Charlie seemed to run out of juice, Wesley Wilson's health deteriorating to the point where he was forced to stop performing. His wife was active in the music business for a few more years, then apparently dropped out of sight.

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