In this special, outdoor episode of IPR Studio One's "Java Blend," Iowa music greats David Zollo and William Elliott Whitmore join together to perform at IPR's second annual Great Iowa Potluck.
Download the free podcast below to hear host Ben Kieffer chat with the pair about their storied music careers, their Iowa upbringings, and their new project Middle Western.
Growing up on the family farm in Iowa, William Elliott Whitmore learned lessons from his father about respecting the land—how to care for crops, to never take more than is needed and, ultimately, to try to leave things better than how they were found. It’s with that wisdom that Whitmore tends to the very same acreage today, but it’s also how he forms his approach to his music.
That natural balance found throughout Whitmore’s 15-plus year career has never been more urgent than on his new album, Radium Death. Known for the sparse, haunting qualities of his mostly solo recordings of what he refers to as “roots-folk music,” in which his husky voice is often accompanied by little more than a banjo or acoustic guitar, Whitmore sought to add some new pitches to his bullpen and began writing songs last year with some changes in place.
If you're a follower of the midwestern indie music world (or of American roots music generally) you might be forgiven for thinking David Zollo has been around forever. The truth is, it just seems that way. Since bursting on the scene as a baby-faced 21-year-old with Iowa City's white-hot, road-chewing pub-rockers, High and Lonesome in 1992, Zollo has done just about everything you can do in the rock and roll business.
Whether as a singer/songwriter/keyboardist with his own bands; as a sideman for an incredible array of roots music talent (Todd Snider, William Elliott Whitmore, Greg Brown, Bo Ramsey, The Pines); as founder/owner/ operator of legendary underground label,Trailer Records; or producer to up-and comers (The Pines, Brother Trucker) Zollo always maintained a ridiculously frenetic schedule, logging thousands of miles and 200+ gigs a year, doing all of these things at an incredibly high level.