Bonnie Whitmore

Bonnie Whitmore

 Austin, Texas, USA
BandAmericanaSinger/Songwriter

The band, ranging from a simple rock duo with drums and baritone guitar to a five piece band with lead singer, Bonnie Whitmore, fronting on bass. It's a collaboration of well written lyrics with pop inspired driven choruses and three part harmonies making it a great addition to the genres of Rock, Pop, Country Roots and Americana.

Biography

Bonnie Whitmore's last album had a body count and a title, Embers to Ashes, that implied a fiery finality. There are broken bones and hard lessons learned on Whitmore's new album, but its title - There I Go Again - suggests less ominous themes.

"I feel like I've grown up a lot," she says. "I turned 30 this year, and I've been in the business 15 of those years. Songwriting as a profession is a humbling career choice. To write songs that are accessible and relatable as possible required a level of maturity and focus that I have strived to attain on this record. It’s a less self-indulgent record then Embers. Embers To Ashes was what I needed to get through that period of my life. There I Go Again is a celebration of success and failure. Plus, nobody wants to hear two breakup albums in a row."

Fittingly, the music also reflects a radiant change of direction. The rootsiness of Embers isn't absent, but the songs on There I Go Again are decidedly less country sounding. Keyboards are played up in places a steel guitar might have inhabited, the drums are more prominent, and Whitmore lets her big voice run through some big, inviting choruses.

"We knew what we had in these songs," says Whitmore. "It's not the same Americana sound that we had with Embers. This one is a lot more put together, and I think it comes across as more polished. It's definitely a pop record, and everyone loves a good pop record."

She cites Tom Petty's ability to balance the earthiness of roots music with hooky pop parts as the model she aspired to on the album. "He makes these amazingly awesome pop songs, but is also able to keep them within the lines. You could hear how beautiful the melodies are beyond the grit of rock and roll," she says. "I struggle with the question - 'who inspired you?' - but Petty’s music has, and always will inspire me."

Whitmore also credits her parents, both the music they chose to play at home in Denton and on the radio, and also her father's band, which featured Whitmore starting at age 8, as well as her sister Eleanor.

By 15, Whitmore was playing professional gigs outside the family band. She played and sang in Hayes Carll's band for a while, and recently she spent quite a bit of time touring and recording with the Mastersons, the husband/wife band featuring sister Eleanor and guitarist Chris Masterson.

They're good family to have: Both of them play on Whitmore's albums, which Masterson produced.

There have been tough gigs for Whitmore along the way. She went to Kickstarter to finance the new record. There she included a video with some footage from a particularly undesirable gig performing in a sports bar beneath the glow of a giant flat-screen TV.

"Those gigs can be hard to take," she says. "You’re playing three hours to a group of people that do not seem to realize you're there. It can be a humbling, disheartening experience."

But her album title speaks to a commitment to her music. "It seemed like a pretty good title for a second album," she says. "It provides a sense of diving into the deep and seeing if it floats. That's what an artist has to do when releasing music now. Nobody is really doing it for the money, we're doing this because we love it, and that's the only reason to do it at all. There's nothing else I'd rather do. Sometimes you have three people come out to a show sometimes you have 300. To me it’s simple. I play music because it’s what I do. Those who want to hear it are what makes it worth it." - andrew dansby

Discography

Bonnie Whitmore doesn't shy away from a difficult conversation. Instead, the gutsy singer, songwriter and bassist spins her perspective into a gorgeous aural web that pushes boundaries and promotes dialogue. The sometimes-Americana, sometimes-pop musician turns feminist frustration into rock this go-round with the release of her ambitious third album, Fuck With Sad Girls.

Recorded at Austin's Ramble Creek by the masterful Britton Beisenherz, the daring 2016 fall drop contains 10 powerful tracks that collectively tell a story and, in one way or another, boldly address the stigma placed on "imperfect" women. 

"Who wants to fuck a sad girl?" Whitmore poses this rhetorical question and expands on it in a May 2016 episode of Johnny Goudie's How Did I Get Here? podcast. "[Society says] you have to be pretty and looked at. You have to absorb the whistles and the objectifying or you'll be ignored because you're ugly or sad." It's not about feigning happiness, she says; it's about accepting what is and loving others through it.

Whitmore's own experiences with catcalling, abuse and depression color the album's narrative, though she keeps the details close to her vest. "[This album] is about empathizing with one another," she explains. "Can I point out something that's awkward so we can bond over it, laugh about it and get past it?"

Though the topic may sound heavy, the album is far from it. Whitmore pulled out the big guns for this raucous, fuzz-tinged record. She used eight basses across the 10 tracks, including two of her own: a Jack Casady Epiphone and an EB3-style Electra circa the early '70s. She also signed on a trio of talented musicians -- guitarist Scott Davis (Band of Heathens, Hayes Carll), drummer Craig Bagby (Sunny Sweeney, Colin Herring) and keyboardist Jared Hall (Velvet Caravan, Colin Gilmore).

A successful PledgeMusic campaign fueled the recording of Fuck With Sad Girls, as well as the complementary concept album dubbed Coyotes: Life and After Life, which is available exclusively to pledge supporters via digital download or vinyl. Whitmore collaborated with artist/producer Juicy the Emissary and engineer Steve Christensen to create a unique sonic experience. Whitmore and a guitar comprise the simpler Side A ("Life"), while Side B ("After Life") showcases Juicy's electronic R&B interpretation of the same songs.

The latest effort builds on an already impressive musical career. Whitmore's solo debut, Embers to Ashes, surfaced with a vengeance in 2010. The breakup-inspired set was "something I needed to do to get through that time," Whitmore says. "I had a lot of anger. I think I murdered him [ex-fiancé] a few times on that record." The whiskey-soaked collection traces the emotional arc of a slowly disintegrating relationship, conjuring up comparisons to Loretta Lynn, Neko Case and Miranda Lambert.

And then came her 2013 sophomore record, There I Go Again. More honed and less emotional, the second release celebrates both success and failure. It also has Whitmore skirting the comfort of roots music and playfully dipping her toe into pop similar to one of her idols, iconic rocker Tom Petty. "He makes these amazingly awesome pop songs but is also able to keep them within the lines," Whitmore mentions. "You could hear how beautiful the melodies are beyond the grit of rock and roll."

Whitmore's lineage is ripe with musical influence. She grew up steeped in country music, touring alongside her parents, Alex and Martha Whitmore, and older sister Eleanor (now one-half of alt-country outfit The Mastersons with husband Chris Masterson) beginning at eight years old. Daddy & the Divas featured a vivacious young Bonnie on bass and Eleanor on violin, both belting out their share of tunes. Whitmore's father, who was a professional pilot, would fly the family to gigs at remote Texas bars and crowded festivals.

Today's Bonnie Whitmore is no longer the curly headed little girl covering classic country songs. She's evolved into a lyrical powerhouse (and fellow pilot) who is comfortable with vulnerability and unafraid of stirring the proverbial pot. Her voice still booms, only now with well-earned self-assurance and an inherent urge to right the world's wrongs.

 "You get to choose what you want to be, and be comfortable with that," Whitmore says of this new, anthemic album's overarching takeaway. "You can exist in this world."