The last time I saw William Elliott Whitmore live in St. Louis, he happily shared his half-full bottle of whiskey with his adoring fans. Seriously, he took a shot, and then passed the bottle to a member of the crowd, who in turn passed it on like an important note in grade school. When the bottle got back to Whitmore, of course, it was empty; he smiled, and with a laugh, threw it over his head, where it amazingly didn’t shatter, but made a loud thud on the stage. The crowd cheered, and he kept playing.
Whitmore, as Steve Earle would say, is a hardcore troubadour.
He also likes to sing about darkness and death. There is something about his voice that fits these subjects — maybe it’s the way his words barely escape his mouth and come out sounding like paranoid prisoners fleeing from death row in the rain, like Andy Dufresne in Stephen King’s The Shawshank Redemption. His words come out scared and vulnerable, like us all.