This week’s band we love is a man full of stories and laughter – a 30 something-year-old, old-timey banjo picker from Iowa who also happens to have a full-sleeve of tattooes and tattooed knuckles. William Elliott Whitmore came out of the hard-core Iowa punk scene but sounds more like he should be sitting on a farm porch with boots, britches and wide suspenders.
A self-proclaimed hillbilly, Whitmore’s blend of traditional folk and blues arouse images of the vast and beautiful middle-American landscape and simple life in the country. But his roots in the hardcore punk community also come through in his rough music, which he states can be interchangeable as there is a folk element to punk. His songs convey the sincerity and poetry of a man who has seen and been through life’s rough patches and are influenced by a lifetime of living and working on a farm.
Whitmore’s reputation of being an absolutely stirring live performer has converted audiences of all kinds with just his banjo (or guitar) and voice. There is no denying that he is a talented storyteller but his voice is the deal breaker which has allowed the punk community to embrace William E. with open arms – making him an icon.
As the Seattle Times accurately stated, “You hear the diesel engine growl of his voice, the century of blues and folk tradition behind his banjo-driven stomps, the everyday relevance of his lyrics, and you succumb.”