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William Elliott Whitmore

A KJHK staffer reviews the February 10th show.

Count on Midwestern pride to bring us together. When Iowa-born William Elliott Whitmore took the stage at the Granada just past midnight on Friday, February 10th, he seemed to embody the Midwest in its totality. A proclaimed love for Lawrence and rough handshakes all around set the tone for this fantastic set. Employing a simple set-up of a bass drum, banjo, and acoustic guitar, Whitmore needed little more than a few free drinks from fans to put on one of the most invigorating and interactive folk shows I have ever been to. With lyrics and melodies that spoke to the earthy Midwesterner in all of us, Whitmore’s gruff voice (accompanied by the audience) sang songs of fields, burdens, love, devils, johnny law, and moonshine.

Whitmore’s open heart led to an open stage for all. By the middle of his set, he had welcomed as many fans as could fit onto the well-worn stage with him. At times exhilarating and at times heartbreaking, the crowd alternated between singing, dancing, and standing still, captivated by the music. After cries for an encore, he ended with a rousing rendition of old devils.

Whitmore was preceded by Me For Radness, Horse Weapons, and Drakkar Sauna. Colorado-based Me For Radness was slightly disappointing, as the one-member band was supplemented by beats from his macbook. He also seemed slightly inebriated. Local band Horse Weapons put on a fantastic set, and their excellent musicianship (two drummers!) coupled with some magnificent scream-singing made for a great change-up to a folksy show. Drakkar Sauna, another local group comprised of two brothers, was fantastic. Their eccentric instruments (toy organ? Yes please) and harmoniously tight voices had the crowd in a frenzy. Olde-timey bluegrass and more mandolin than you can imagine! Love me some mandolin.

Unique to the end, this was a show I’m glad I didn’t miss. Whether sitting in someone’s backyard or crowed on and around a stage in.


by aleksandra milewska