William Elliott Whitmore
Blue Moose Tap House — Saturday, March 28 at 9 p.m.
Iowa roots rocker William Elliott Whitmore performs this Saturday at the Blue Moose Tap House in anticipation of his upcoming album, Radium Death, set for release on March 31 under the ANTI- record label. The show starts at 9 p.m. with a performance by singer-songwriter Michael Shynes, and — as Whitmore fans in the Iowa City area know all too well — you’ll want to arrive early, because this show will almost certainly sell out.
Whitmore, who currently lives in rural Lee County, is no stranger to Iowa City’s music scene, his punk rock roots going back to the ’90s during his time with Ten Grand. His musical career took a rather dramatic turn in the early ’00s, creatively speaking, with Whitmore opting for a smoldering style of folk that’s as grim, dusty and dark as it is joyful — a confluence of emotion that gives Whitmore’s music a truly addictive (and authentic) quality.
Whitmore has found a nationwide audience in the years since, releasing a series of popular dirt-thumping albums under several labels — namely ANTI- and Southern Records — in addition to pursuing a few voice acting gigs on the side (He recorded his dialogue for the video game Wasteland 2 at Iowa City’s Flat Black Studios, in fact). His stripped-down style, which typically features Whitmore’s gravelly voice backed by a single stringed instrument, has garnered heaps of praise from both fans and critics.
Whitmore’s upcoming album, Radium Death, is currently streaming on Vice‘s music blog, Noisey. The album features plenty of solo Whitmore on banjo or guitar, of course, but fans will notice — right from the first track — that the Iowa musician isn’t settling for a simple rehash. The electric, high-BPM opener sets the pace before easing back into some of Whitmore’s more traditional folk and roots stylings, creating a welcome contrast that’s as surprising as it is refreshing.