Never content to play to the status quo, Mercury Lounge brings in one of its most eclectic artists to date with William Elliot Whitmore this Monday night, May 9.
At first listen, Whitmore is a classic folk artist or perhaps an old-school blues man. Give him more than a cursory glance, however, and you'll find he's much more than that.
Raised on a horse farm on the banks of the Mississippi River outside of Keokuk, Iowa, Whitmore is undeniably in touch with the soulful blues of Middle America and sings with the passion of an old-time country preacher. Somewhere in the midst of that passion, however, he marries a punk-rock aesthetic and earnestness.
Whitmore is rumored to have started his music career working as a roadie for Iowa hardcore band Ten Grand, but his own music stands apart from that set, even as he remains good friends with the band. Whitmore's solo material is most easily compared to that of Tom Morello's Nightwatchman project: it's stark and at times a touch surreal in its vivid imagery, yet its infused with an urgency and passion more commonly found in the metal, punk or hardcore genres.
On one hand, Whitmore conjures the spirit of Woody Guthrie and his classic protest-folk; on another, he invokes the gritty blues of Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters. Amidst all that, the rough edges of Whitmore's vocals are smoothed out with a gospel-tinged soul. Songs like "There's Hope For You," "The Chariot" and "Old Devil" simmer them all down to one coherent package that equally encompasses it all.
With a sound like this, you might expect Whitmore to be stuck in the Americana coffee-house circuit, but his passion and performances demand something more. The urgency of his performances has landed him on tour with artists as diverse as City and Colour, The Pogues, Lucero, Clutch, Murder by Death, Frank Turner, Frontier Ruckus, and most recently, Chris Cornell.
Mercury Lounge has scored a coup this week in bringing William Elliot Whitmore to town for an intimate show on Monday night, May 9. This show is a precursor to Whitmore's latest CD, Field Songs, which is scheduled for release July 12 on Anti- Records.
With a Monday night appearance, Whitmore's show is flying under the radar, but it's one that will undoubtedly leave people talking and is one you don't want to miss. Show up by 10pm and expect to be impressed. Cover is only $5 at the door.
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