After graduation in 1974 a friend gave Bill a tape of Southern Appalachian string band music, and he was blown away by the sound of the banjo. In 1976 Bill left his "day-job" with a sign on his desk that read: "Gone to banjo heaven!" Within a year he was artist-in-residence in a small West Virginia community where he recorded fiddlers, banjo players, and ballad singers. These recordings are now in the archives of West Virginia University. He also presented community concerts, square dances, and school programs featuring these local musicians.
Between 1982 and 1987 Wellington toured with the traditional dance band Caledonia, playing at community dances throughout the Eastern US. In 1983 he published a collection of original tunes including jigs, reels, and waltzes entitled Belknap's March, named for a War of 1812 fifer from Bill's hometown of Framingham, Massachusetts.