William Elliott Whitemore.
Whitmore, Trampled by Turtles go live on Locust
Published on September 3rd, 2013 | by Joe Lawler
Iowa native William Elliott Whitmore hasn’t been playing a lot of shows this summer. Most of his time has been spent working in his garden on his farm near Montrose in southeast Iowa. He’s also been spending some time writing material for a follow-up to 2011’s “Field Songs.”
“This is always a real exciting time, creatively,” Whitmore said. “I’m real proud of the songs so far. I might try some of them out in Des Moines. The best way to know if something will work is trying it in front of a crowd. It’s like a canary in the mine. If the crowd passes out from boredom, I know not to put it on the record.”
Whitmore is opening for Trampled by Turtles on Sunday, outside Wooly’s as part of the Live on Locust street party. Whitmore has toured with the Duluth, Minn., band multiple times, describing them as a “real hot band” that “plays their asses off.”
Trampled by Turtles is a five-piece band, but for Whitmore’s set it will just be him, a guitar and a banjo. Whitmore has never really had a band, and he likes the freedom that gives him. If someone yells out a request from the audience, he doesn’t have to worry that four other guys know their parts.
“Being by myself on stage definitely lets me keep my setlist more fluid,” Whitmore said. “If it’s just me I can fumble through a song, or make a song a little slower or a little faster depending on my mood. I like the idea of just being there with the crowd. If you think of a song you want to hear, I’ll try to play it. I may not have played it for 10 years, but I’ll try. I want everyone to come away having heard what they wanted to hear.”
Back home, Whitmore has been playing the songs he wants to hear right now, which is an unusual combo of Conway Twitty and El-P and Killer Mike’s hip-hop project Run the Jewels. Whitmore said country and hip-hop have the same appeal for him: A top-notch act in either genre will have incredible lyricism.
Another activity Whitmore enjoys while he’s home is drinking a bit of moonshine. While commercially available moonshine has started to pop up on store shelves, Whitmore gets his the old-fashioned way: He makes it.
“I haven’t tried any of the store bought stuff, it just seems a little counterintuitive. Shine is something you make,” Whitmore said. “Maybe it’s gotten kind of hip, and that’s cool. That’s what should be cool, making homemade stuff. If that’s the fad, then I’m on board.”
Live on Locust with Trampled by Turtles and William Elliott Whitmore
When: 6 p.m. Sunday
Where: Outside Wooly’s, 504 E. Locust St.