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26.2 miles in under 3 and a half hours. Sounds easy on paper and I will be posting regular updates, the highs and the lows. Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Review - William Elliott Whitmore at Borderline

About a decade ago a band limped on to the scene, hung around for a bit and then promptly disappeared, although they stayed together and still release albums and tour.

They were instantly recognisable for singing style of Tom Gray. It was a husky, smoke infused drawly growl which peppered such hits as Whippin Piccadilly and Get Myself Arrested. It was a subtle voice which fitted nicely into their rag tag multi instrumentalist line up evoking a sound more entrenched in the American South than South Bermondsey.

Tom Gray was in his early twenties at the time and had the voice of a 70 year old lifetime smoker and it just oozed from his lungs coating the songs in Americana.

William Elliott Whitmore is into his thirties and whereas he is a Jack Daniels swilling Iowan he sounds much less convincing.

I was taken in by it initially on record and was struck by the stark instrumental use and husky bark which contrasted to great effect.

I was convinced that he was black and knocking on heavens door. When I found out he was only 30 something and white I thought, nice idea.

Then the idea started to grate with each listen but I had already bought tickets for the Borderline gig.

Whitmore is a very personable young man. Bearded and wearing a pork pie hat he was every inch the musician as he wandered around mingling with the punters. He remembered people from previous gigs and spent a fair amount of time with each fan who wanted a chat. If this job doesn't work out he should consider a position in customer service.

Taking to the low, intimate, wee Borderline stage he opened a full bottle of JD and handed it to the audience to polish off. Another nice touch.

His playing style is bold rhythm strokes, be it on banjo, or less successfully on acoustic guitar. The songs are solid and stand up well as solo accompaniment but the playing is rather rudimentary and it all got a bit samey after a while.

He can hold a crowd well and everyone was rapt, but I got a little bored and went back to meet Allan Jones the editor of Uncut.

Another bottle of JD got opened and passed around and he left the stage to huge cheers and I admit the gig improved after the obligatory encore.

The voice, oh the voice. It sounded better and less contrived than on record but it is so put on it sometimes sounds like he is swallowing frogs and trying to regurgitate them again.

Will he be around in a decade? I'm sure he doesn't know anything else, but he won't be on the radar round these parts unless he changes his style as it was just a little tedious.

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