The Austin Chronicle

Flying Solo

By Jim Caligiuri, December 17, 2008, 1:38pm, Earache!

If you’ve seen Susan Gibson, Slaid Cleaves, Bruce Robison, or Kelly Willis perform in the past couple of years, you couldn’t help but notice their fiddle player. With a shock of neon red hair and supreme confidence on her instrument, Eleanor Whitmore stands out in any crowd. She's originally from Denton, spent some time in Austin, and as of February is a resident of Brooklyn, having moved on to a solo career with self-released debut Airplanes. Whitmore and her partner/producer Chris Masterson, best known as guitarist for Son Volt, plus Jack Ingram and Bobby Bare Jr. appear at Stubb’s tonight, bringing a brand of folk-pop that melds Aimee Mann and the Beatles in a tuneful, distinctive way.

Whitmore comes from a musical family: Her mother is an opera singer, her father a singer-songwriter in his own right, and Austin folks will recognize sister Bonnie’s name from gigs around town. Her dad is also a pilot, and his influence led her to obtain a pilot’s license and the title for her disc.

Leaving Austin was a career choice that seems to have worked out fine, Whitmore explains. “I wanted to expand my musical horizons on a national level. I felt I had outgrown Austin in the kind of work that I was looking for and I was looking to pursue my solo career. I’ve lived in Texas my whole life and I’ve always loved New York. It's such a beautiful city and there’s so much diversity and culture. It’s nice to be able to take the subway and not have to drive in the traffic in Austin.”

The move led to gigs touring with Regina Spektor and Allison Moorer this year, but for now she's concentrating on flying solo. “I started writing songs in college around 1996," she relates. "But I didn’t take it that seriously, plus it was intimidating working with people like Bruce and Slaid. When I saw Chris getting checks in the mail, I started taking it more seriously. My relationship with him has inspired my solo career. He has so many great musical ideas. We got into some arguments when we started to record about what he wanted and what I heard in my head. But, ultimately, I decided to listen to his ideas. I trust him as a musician and I’m really glad I did because he did an incredible job of bringing my songs to life.”

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