Music » Critics' Picks

William Elliott Whitmore

8 p.m. Wednesday, June 6. Schlafly Tap Room, (2100 Locust Street)


William Elliott Whitmore has the name of a poetaster, the voice of an old street singer, and a banjo in serious need of new strings and a fret job. Again and again he goes to the folk-songwriting well for aphorisms of fate and natural forces: nail-ripping windstorms, hard work in the hard sun, deaths in the family, and the Mississippi River of his native Keokuk, Iowa. In the process Whitmore rejects modernity for "morning glories and Queen Anne's lace" (and enough moonshine to blitz Dock Boggs himself). But it's his tunes, which are plundered and refurbished from the Alan Lomax songbook, and his voice — desiccated but full, exacting but soulful — that redeem his archaic Americana obsessions.

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