How do you get New Yorkers to pay more attention to the guy on stage than their beer? I don’t know either, but somehow an Iowa boy without pretenses managed to do it.
William Elliot Whitmore opened for Lucero on a rainy Sunday at the Bowery Ballroom. In a very un-New York fashion, people came out early, packed the room, and shut up while Whitmore sat on a stool on a stage full of other people’s equipment while playing either his guitar or banjo.
Whitmore’s deep voice filled the room in an awe-inspiring way. With a microphone placed next to his feet to amplify his stamping on the stage floor, the one man had more of stage presence than the countless noise bands that have passed through the same venue.
Whitmore’s deep voice filled the room in an awe-inspiring way.
What sets Whitmore’s show apart as more of an experience than a standard gig is his personability. As one of those rare artists who works withought a set list (or seems to at least), Whitmore was all too happy to take requests, and encouraged them from the crowd. He exchanged in banter with his audience, told us about his farm, his horses, and his rooster, Tarzan. He introduced songs by saying that they were “for a dead friend,” or “about why he hates cops,” and through Whitmore we learned that not only are the men in Lucero really nice guys, but they will buy you a lapdance in Reno from a girl called Charisma. Whitmore is the kind of guy you would want to buy a drink, and his afns didn’t even wait until he finished his set before presenting him with a double whiskey. When after the stories and shots of whiskey were finished, William (never before called Billy, as we are told) closed out his portion of the evening with an a capella number that he and many members of the audience clapped along furiously to.
Whitmore is headed back to his farm in Iowa for the time being, but the man is constantly on tour. Keep an eye on his website and be sure to buy him a PBR when he rolls through your town.