Tony Whetstone

Tony Whetstone


This is original music for the ancient at heart-- New Blues with Deep Roots


Music is tradition for me. Great-granddad fiddled, Granddad fingerpicked blues, and Dad accompanied his rich baritone with flatpicked country guitar. Mom’s cousin, Monroe Gevedon, was a Kentucky fiddler recorded by the Library of Congress in the 1930’s.

At family gatherings I’d watch my father, grandparents, uncles and aunts laughing, singing and playing guitar. That was the best music I’ve ever heard.

I’ve been writing songs all my life. I want my songs to be like the timeless folk and blues songs. I’ve glanced at the books on how to write hit songs but I don't get it. They tell you to avoid poetry—but the old folk songs I love are full of poetry! They tell you never repeat any section more than twice, and to get to the chorus within a few seconds--but most of the great folk and blues tunes I love may aren’t afraid of repeating simple structures and often don’t even have choruses. Those songs have endured hundreds of years--I don’t think many hit songs will last that long.


Half Empty

Written By: Tony Whetstone

Half Empty

Half empty half empty
why worry what's been spilt
it's what's left that you're wasting
past frustrations were just libations
and the sweetest part remains for the tasting

I saw a castle in the clouds
seems like all you remember was the rain
yeah we got a little wet
but we sure came clean
it's only your perspective
that causes you this pain

half empty half empty
why worry what's been spilt
it's what's left that you're wasting
past frustrations were just libations
and the sweetest part remains for the tasting

oh babe seems you got enough worries for the entire neighborhood
it's like your inner critic never, never relaxes
I'm afraid if tonight we won a million
tomorrow you'd moan about the taxes...

half empty-- if it's only half empty
then let's raise our glasses high
we may fill them again
and if we pass this test
let's make the next round the best
baby let me pour for you
and you just say when...


Written By: Tony Whetstone


slippry bank
muddy river
a water snake
I slither
round wet rocks
now I wind me
'fore morning sun
shall find me
it's icy daybreak cold and I'm half-frozen
no sometimes it's not the life I might have chosen

face like china
white as paper
but her promises
are vapors
in wetlands
of her dark eyes
quickly capsize
and it's forbidden yet she knows I won't refuse her
and it may be in part the challenge makes me choose her

o this river's old
what tales could be told
o this river's cold
chills me to my soul
o this river's old
her stories can't be sold
o this river's cold
it's my love makes me bold...

and reaching home
how the wind blows
lock the door
dark the windows
from the sun--
she's my daylight
and sullen morning
my night
you may judge me poorly, I don't mind it
opinions' small--worth is where you find it.
and I outrun them dogs, I'm safe and free and healthy
last night I held spun gold, I'm rich if I'm not wealthy

When the Rhododendron Bloom

Written By: Tony Whetstone

When the Rhododendron Bloom

when the rhododendron bloom
clothed in purple flower'd delight
and the mountain laurel rise
to tip their cups of pink and white

then fill your flask with spring waters
I'll take up my walking staff
and we'll give our ready grins
and let a hearty laugh...against this

cold and dark'ning winter gloom
I'm Light-Deprived--soul-sick of it
how I long to be in the thick of it
when the rhododendron bloom

as the Blue Ridge topped with green
sends the young doe out to meet me
Black Bear's back behind the scene
wish her well but need not greet me

and when this valley is a-budding
soon that windswept ridge so cold
will shine all green and golden
as the ivy slicks take hold...and quicken

Time who now drags in my room
I hear each hollow tick of it
but I vow to be in the nick of it
when the rhododendron bloom

(banjar solo)

and every switchback's an adventure
if you haven't seen it yet--
knowing clearly where you came from
moving on without regret...for Nature's grand

and will not be presumed
her timing is the trick to it
you must pledge your heart and stick to it
then the rhododendron bloom

when the rhododendron bloom

High Times

Written By: Tony Whetstone

High Times

People told me it's alright to close your eyes and see the light
but I'd rather been confused than ignorant
and I knew that I might not survive I coulda burned out before I hit 25
but I'd rather gone out wasted than let it go to rot

it was high times high times
hardly a chance we wouldn't take
it was high times till it was nigh time,
you keep what works-- try to learn from your mistakes

well let me tell ya people its ok you can know damn sure you know the way
but why must you shove it off on someone else?
Salvation's not one-size-fits-all, so pick your path and have a ball
my destination ever has been the trip itself.

and it's still high times still high times
you live the life you sing the song
it's high times till it's nigh time
you pay a certain price and it's time to move along

and now people tell me it's just fine better shut your mouth and get in line
give up your rights--call it security
but you know I'd rather have my say, even if I give myself away
nowadays they call it treason but once it was liberty

I'd rather have high times real high times
though we're older and more careful when we play
still its high times until its nigh time

this unrelenting sinner fades to grey...
and this unrepentant winner walks away

Set List

I usually do a short set of fingerpicked acoustic guitar, a short set of clawhammered banjo, and finish with a slightly longer set of slide guitar. About 25% of the songs are instrumental. I do very few covers, and when I do, the songs are in my style, such as a cover of the Carter Family's 1932 "The Spirit of Love Watches Over Me" or a slide guitar version of "I'll Fly Away".