Posts Tagged ‘Folk’

William Elliott Whitmore has stories to tell. Or, well, to sing, I should say.

He’s 31 years old but sings like he’s maybe 70 or 75 years old. And I mean that in the best of ways. In the truck exhaust and gruff Tom Waits way. In the cracked voice of a wise sage way. In the kinetic Joe Cocker way.

But singer/songwriter William Elliott Whitmore does more than just sing. With a four-string banjo or an acoustic guitar this Iowa born and bred man hardly beyond his 20s has found that “solid gold bar” Fitzgerald said all writers must find, that theme they will return to again and again, no matter what the story or setting or song or painting for that matter.

Elliott’s solid gold bar is the land, his land, the farms of Iowa where he was raised. And the people on those farms. History, tradition, hardship, perseverance. These things are important to Whitmore, and it shows through his music and his lifestyle.

On stage he rarely, if ever, can be found wearing anything other than a fedora, a button-up shirt rolled to the elbows to reveal countless tattooing along his arms, plain slacks and a pair of worn patent leather wingtips. When not touring or in the studio at his ANTI- label he is tending to the family horse farm, the same farm his folks before him tended.

Farm life, the land, and its people, informs his albums. It is from this distinct voice found early in his life Whitmore draws an energy many of his fans cannot exactly put into words. He has been known to open for a variety of punk bands, members of which are some of his closest friends, though he works exclusively in either alternative country, folk, or blues. Often he is said to open for these bands and leave a crowd of rowdy and ready to get jacked out of shape folks stunned into the sort of silent murmur found only in churches and libraries. Audiences, say friends from many of these bands, are just stunned. Reverence isn’t quite the right word, maybe. But it’s close.

He has opened for acts such as The Pogues and Murder By Death, as well as a host of others. But he also tours and has written and recorded several albums of his own. If Harry Smith’s collection of folk music brought us the first wave of folk enthusiasts, surely Whitmore is on the front lines of opening the door to a new voice in the neglected art of deep roots folk and blues.

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