When William Elliott Whitmore sings, "It was the year of aught-one/And our life had begun/No perils could make us this strong," it's a toss-up as to what century he's referring to. His Hymns for the Hopeless swims in time-warped currents of naked Mississippi blues, junkyard percussion, gospel harmony, and ragged banjo. With a voice at times crisp and raw like a chilling river breeze or deep, husky, and profound like an impassioned minister, Whitmore sings heart-wrenching songs of love, death, redemption, and beautiful tragediestaken from his own world-weary life. True, he treads the same ground as countless broken blues musicians before him, but the essence of the music provides bottomless inspiration, and Whitmore -- who comes from punk-rock roots -- feels it deep in his bones. Pay serious attention tonight and the tear in your beer may be your own.
William Elliott Whitmore plays with Against Me and the Exit at 7 p.m. Tuesday, September 6, at Respectable Street, 518 Clematis St., West Palm Beach. The show is all ages; tickets cost $10. Call 561-832-9999.
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