I worked in a couple of record shops in Des Moines, Iowa as I was growing up. It was how I found most of the music I listened to and I honestly think that being my first job really set me on the path of making music my life. My favorite section of the record stores was always the local selection and I remember constantly seeing the name William Elliott Whitmore on those shelves (I know he’s not from Des Moines but it was Iowa and choices for the “local” section with slim). I got curious enough to buy one of the albums and put it in one day and it honestly blew me away. Completely different from the emo/ pop-punk world I had found myself in, I was in love and that love still reigns supreme. I still get chills every time William’s music comes on and I still go to see him perform every chance I get. That’s how I found myself at The Turf Club on Friday night– bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
The Creek Rocks kicked the Friday night show off in the most perfect way. This duo from Springfield, Missouri has a very simple sound (and I don’t mean that in a bad way) and personalities that shine bright. Unfortunately, I felt like they spent most of their forty-minute set competing against the clearly excited and very chatty audience but that didn’t stop me from inching closer and closer to the stage and enjoying every second of their set. Their folk-rock sound was as genuine as the banter that happened between their songs. Although I could see some frustration on their faces when they realized they were being drowned out by the chatty audience, they never gave up and just forged ahead with their beautiful set. There was just something so sweet about the way Cindy and Mark of The Creek Rocks interacted. There were unspoken nods and side glances between these two that meant nothing to the audience but meant everything to this duo. I’ve always loved a connection like that. Where the music has such a tight bond between two people that even the slightest movement can mean everything. Although their music was definitely a bit more bluegrass-based than I tend to go, I was an instant fan and do hope these two make the trek back up to Minnesota soon!
I don’t know how many songs William played on Friday night but I know that he was on that stage for damn near two hours and even that wasn’t enough for the packed audience that had come out to witness his genius. It was song after song full of love and passion radiating from the stage and crowd alike. Whether people were singing along or just tapping their toes to the steady beats, nobody in the Turf Club had a frown on their face and everyone’s eyes seemed to be glued to the stage. William is a no-frills kind of guy. It’s literally just him, his banjo or guitar (depending on the track), and a kick drum. There’s no band, no banner, nothing yet he is able to captivate you and you feel as if you just can’t miss a single movement or word that comes out of his mouth. I really don’t know how to put his passion into words. It’s hard to describe what it feels like to literally feel that passion and fire from someone. It’s intimidating but friendly at the same time. It gives you a sense of calm while giving you a sense of motivation to do anything and everything. It’s truly an amazing experience and one that I wish would last forever.
William mentioned how being at The Turf Club and at the show on Friday night felt like going home before going home. I think that may be the best way to describe the set overall. It was like seeing that friend from high school that you only see on holidays yet always seem to pick up right where you left off. Maybe it was because it was the last night of the tour or maybe it’s because the audience on Friday night was so interactive– regardless of what it was, there was something special about the performance last night and I only wish I had the right words to describe it.