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William Elliott Whitmore

William Elliott Whitmore (born May 11, 1978) is an American blues, country, folk singer and musician.[1][2] He plays roots-folk music that is often inspired by his life on his family farm in the hills of southeastern Iowa.[3][4]

William Elliott Whitmore
William Elliott Whitmore performing in 2015
Whitmore performing in 2015
Background information
Birth nameWilliam Elliott Whitmore
Also known asW.E.W.
Will Whitmore
Born (1978-05-11) May 11, 1978 (age 41)
Lee County, Iowa, U.S.
GenresAlternative country
Folk music
Years active1999–present
LabelsBloodshot Records
Southern Records
Scenester Credentials
Associated actsLost Cause
Middle Western

Early life and educationEdit

Whitmore grew up on a 160-acre horse farm in Lee County, Iowa, not far outside of Keokuk, Iowa. His parents, Elyse Whitmore (née Tweedy) and Harold Whitmore,[5] were farmers, and the farm had been in his family since his third great grandfather, who was an immigrant from Ireland.[6] After his parents died, he converted the farm to row crops, which he leases to a neighboring farmer so he can be on the road to perform. He has an older brother and sister.[7]

Growing up the family was musical, with his dad playing the guitar, his mother playing the accordion and piano, with both his paternal and maternal grandfathers playing the banjo.[8] Charley Pride and Willie Nelson were huge influences growing up. Whitmore always sung but when he was a teenager he began playing guitar, then eventually the banjo.[7]

In addition to playing locally with a cousin, Whitmore, after a short stint in San Francisco, moved to Iowa City and got involved in the punk rock and the DIY scene, forming a band called Lost Cause.[7]

In 1996, Whitmore graduated from Central Lee High School in Donnellson, Iowa.[9]


When he was first starting out, Whitmore was a roadie for an Iowa City punk band called Ten Grand, but he eventually started performing as an opener for the band and toured extensively with Ten Grand.[10] This led to him getting signed to the Chicago-based office of Southern Records.[7] Whitmore said he turned to songwriting as a way to deal with the deaths of his parents, who died within a few years of each other, and the deaths of his grandparents.[11]

Whitmore built a long-term relationship with Southern Records, releasing three records on the label. The three records on Southern, 2003's Hymns for the Hopeless, 2005's Ashes to Dust, 2006's Song of the Blackbird, were a trilogy that were focused on death and his experience processing the deaths of those close to him.[12] He recorded the records with Mike Lust at Phantom Manor in Chicago.[11]

In 2009, Whitmore signed with mini-major ANTI-, where he released three records.[7] The first record for ANTI-, 2009's Animals in the Dark, was a concept album. It reached Number 50 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart.

The song, "Civilizations" off his 2015 record, Radium Death, is about how an oil pipeline running from South Dakota to Illinois was going to go through his grandmother's property on their farm.[13]

In April 2018, Whitmore signed with Bloodshot Records, with a new release expected in the fall of 2018.[14][15]

The 2018 record is a covers record called Kilonova. Covers include songs by Bad Religion, Bill Withers, Captain Beefheart, Johnny Cash, The Magnetic Fields, and ZZ Top.[16]

Whitmore has toured with Chris Cornell, City and Colour, Murder by Death, Clutch, Lucero, Converge, Red Sparowes, Modern Life is War, Frontier Ruckus, Frank Turner, Esmé Patterson and The Low Anthem.[citation needed]

His live act features Whitmore's distinctive deep baritone voice,[2][17] and features Whitmore playing the banjo or guitar while singing, though on occasion he performs a cappella. He sometimes tours with a full band, but often plays roots-folk music as a solo act.[7]

Whitmore has a long-term musical relationship with his cousin Luke Tweedy, head engineer and producer at Iowa City's Flat Black Studios.[18]

Middle WesternEdit

In 2016, Whitmore and musician and producer David Zollo formed the folk band Middle Western.[19] An upcoming record is planned.[20] Other members of Middle Western include Stephen Howard (guitar, bass), Stevie Doyle (guitar, bass), and Brian Cooper (drums).[21]

Personal lifeEdit

Whitmore is married and lives on the farm where he grew up.[22][23]

Whitmore has stated that he is an atheist.[13]



Middle Western

  • 2018: When Your Demons are Underground and You’ve Got to Dig Them Up (Long Play Records)[31]


  • 2004: The Day The End Finally Came........ 7" (Southern Records) – A: "The Day The End Finally Came / B1: "Does Me No Good," B2: "The Buzzard Won't Cry"
  • 2005: Latitudes: WEW EP (Southern Records) – Latitudes session recordings series[32]


  • 2013: Early Years (Long Play Records) – 3 LP set of re-recorded and re-mastered versions of Whitmore's first three albums


  • 2002: After The Gold Rush (CCAC Wattis Institute) – music and book collaboration with artist Jeremy Deller
  • 2004: Flaccid Trip / William E. Whitmore split (Scenester Credentials) – William Elliott Whitmore, "Somebody's Been Usin' That Thang" / FT (The Shadow Government), "Clique Track"[33]
  • 2006: Hallways of Always EP (Southern Records) – with Jenny Hoyston of Erase Errata[11]
  • 2010: Murder by Death & William Elliott Whitmore split (Tent Show Records) – Murder by Death, "One Man's Shame" / William Elliott Whitmore "Dynamite Mine"
  • 2011: William Elliott Whitmore / P.O.S. with Big Cats 7" vinyl split (Init Records) – William Elliott Whitmore, "Country Blues" / P.O.S. with Big Cats "Crack A Window"
  • 2015: No Eminent Domain 7" vinyl split (Long Play Records) – William Elliott Whitmore, "Civilizations" (Full Band Version)" / Hallways Of Always, "You Never Even Called Me by My Name"
  • 2016: Play Each Other's Songs 7" split (Bloodshot Records) – William Elliott Whitmore, "Elysium" / Esmé Patterson, "Not Feeling Any Pain"


  • 2004: No Laws: Keep the Fuzz Off My Buzz 12" compilation (Modern Radio Records) – with Paradise Island, Let's Be Active, and FT (The Shadow Government); tracks: "I'm Building Me A Home" and "Farther Along"
  • 2005: When the Cat Returns the Mice Are Fucked compilation (Southern Records) – Various artists; track: "Midnight"
  • 2009: Hiram and Huddie - Vol. 1 & 2 (Hillgrass Bluebilly Records) – 2-CD tribute to Hank Williams and Lead Belly; tracks: "Mother Is Gone" and "The Gallis (Gallows) Pole"
  • 2010: Red Dead Redemption video game soundtrack (Wax Poetics Records) – track: "Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie"[34]
  • 2010: Germs of Perfection: A Tribute to Bad Religion (MySpace Records in conjunction with Spin Magazine) – track: "Don't Pray on Me"
  • 2014: While No One Was Looking: Toasting 20 Years of Bloodshot Records (Bloodshot Records) – track: “I Wish I Was the Moon” (Neko Case cover)


  1. ^ Conan, Neal; Whitmore, William Elliott (25 July 2011). "William Elliott Whitmore's 'Field Songs' Celebrate Farmers" (Audio interview). Talk of the Nation. NPR.
  2. ^ a b Heigl, Alex (27 March 2015). "William Elliott Whitmore on Growing up on a Farm, Punk Rock, and Public Enemy". People.
  3. ^ Sundermann, Eric (24 March 2015). "Being Regular and Normal with William Elliott Whitmore". Noisey. Vice Media.
  4. ^ Dye, David; Whitmore, William Elliott (1 August 2011). "William Elliott Whitmore On 'World Cafe: Next'" (Includes audio performance). World Cafe. WXPN via NPR.
  5. ^ "Genealogy Report: Descendants of Wealthy Elliott". Pam-Dixon Family Tree. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  6. ^ Parker, Chris (7 February 2012). "William Elliott Whitmore vs. the modern world". Kansas City Pitch.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Roberts, Michael (22 January 2009). "Q&A with William Elliott Whitmore". Westword.
  8. ^ Wright, Levi (2 February 2017). "Music for folks from the heart of Iowa". The Daily Iowan.
  9. ^ Lamm, Tracey (12 April 2001). "Love of the land and music inspires Whitmore". Daily Gate City.
  10. ^ Spengler, Brendan L. (4 September 2013). "Ten years after the band's sudden end, a history of Iowa City hardcore legends Ten Grand". Little Village.
  11. ^ a b c Bullock, Dan (26 March 2007). "The smoke-stained howl of William Elliott Whitmore". OnMilwaukee.
  12. ^ a b Tramontana, Gianluca; Whitmore, William Elliott (2009). "William Elliott Whitmore". Sitting with Gianluca: From Country-Bluegrass-Blues to CBGBs. Archived from the original (Audio interview) on 11 May 2011.
  13. ^ a b Maurice, Raphael (31 August 2016). "William Elliott Whitmore: Gospel Music For Atheists". St. Louis Magazine.
  14. ^ "William Elliott Whitmore Joins the Bloodshot Records Roster". Bloodshot Records. 24 April 2018.
  15. ^ Leimkuehler, Matthew (24 April 2018). "Iowa's own William Elliott Whitmore inks deal with celebrated Chicago label". Des Moines Register.
  16. ^ Sacher, Andrew (10 July 2018). "William Elliott Whitmore releasing covers album (hear his Magnetic Fields cover)". BrooklynVegan.
  17. ^ Sundermann, Eric (9 April 2014). "Mission Creek Festival: The Anti-Bro Festival in Bro County, Iowa". Noisey. Vice Media.
  18. ^ Whitmore, William Elliott (23 February 2015). "William Elliott Whitmore 'Radium Death' EPK (Extended Director's Cut)" (Electronic press kit). ANTI-.
  19. ^ Kieffer, Ben; Zollo, David; Whitmore, William Elliott (23 December 2016). "Java Blend: David Zollo and William Elliott Whitmore join forces" (Includes audio interview and performance). Iowa Public Radio.
  20. ^ Hancock, Amanda (1 March 2017). "Five acts at Daytrotter Downs to know before you go". Quad-City Times.
  21. ^ Moon, Lindsey; Nebbe, Charity; Benson, Luke; Tweedy, Luke (20 April 2016). "First Listen: 'Help Me' by David Zollo & William Elliott Whitmore's new band 'Middle Western'" (Audio interview). Iowa Public Radio.
  22. ^ "William Elliott Whitmore: Bio". William Elliott Whitmore. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  23. ^ Tetzloff, Adam (September 2013). "#1 D.A.D.s".
  24. ^ Petrusich, Amanda (15 October 2003). "William Elliott Whitmore: Hymns for the Hopeless Album Review". Pitchfork.
  25. ^ Madsen, Peter (30 April 2005). "William Elliott Whitmore - This land is his land". No Depression (57).
  26. ^ Beaudoin, Jedd (31 December 2006). "William Elliott Whitmore - Song Of The Blackbird". No Depression (67).
  27. ^ "William Elliott Whitmore Set to Release Animals In The Dark February 17th, 2009" (Press release). ANTI-. 21 October 2008.
  28. ^ Petrusich, Amanda (2 August 2011). "William Elliott Whitmore: Field Songs Album Review". Pitchfork.
  29. ^ "William Elliott Whitmore To Release New Album" (Press release). ANTI-. 24 February 2015.
  30. ^ Thomas, Andy (12 May 2015). "Life Lessons From William Elliott Whitmore". Westword.
  31. ^ Roeder, Michael (20 March 2018). "Album Review: Middle Western -- When Your Demons are Underground and You've Got to Dig Them Up". Little Village (239).
  32. ^ "William Elliott Whitmore: William Elliott Whitmore (untitled) [Vinyl]". Southern Records. 2005.
  33. ^ "William Elliot Whitmore Flaccid Trip split". Scenester Credentials. 2004. Archived from the original on 15 February 2008.
  34. ^ Spengler, Brendan L. (7 August 2013). "Will Whitmore as the voice of the apocalypse". Little Village.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit