Pouring from his voice, falling off his fingers, Black Iowa Dirt seems to be sewn into the very threads which comprise William Elliott Whitmore’s soul. True to form, this Midwesterner’s charm and affinity for that which he loves – home, tilled earth, people, whisky, music and story – is so very apparent not only when the first note hits your ears, but also when you take a few minutes and have a conversation with him.

Normally at a loss for meaningful words when I approach a performer, not for star stricken fear but rather for lack of familiar ground, my chat with Will came easily. We discussed music and instruments and his tour and our mutual homes. I was excited to find out that he had recently played my old haunt back home in Tampa, The New World Brewery, a bar nestled at the edge of Ybor City with an outdoor covered stage, adjacent to Jose Marti Park, a small piece of sovereign Cuban soil in Tampa.

I must say that while charming and enjoyable, The Highline’s sound system left so much to be desired. W.E.W.’s voice barely carried over the throng of people pushing themselves forward toward the stage. In an effort to reduce the pressure, he told people that they were welcome to sit on stage with him, and they did. I opted to stand on a chair toward the back of the crowd and peer over the many swaying heads, content to listen rather than watch someone who has become one of my very favorite singer-songwriters around.

The surprise of the night, for me, was when he covered Bad Religion's "Don't Pray on Me" and Bill Withers's "Ain't No Sunshine," though he got everybody stomping with "Old Devils," and swaying with "Hell or High Water." My buddy Zach, who has the distinct honor of having introduced WEW to me three years ago, called out for "Pine Box," to which Will replied, "That's a sad song, you really want a sad song?" Hell yes we did. Johnny Law might be a small man, but William Elliott Whitmore stands tall, even when seated. Cheers FYM. –j.k

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