I have two words for you this week: Bonnie Whitmore. Her new album There I Go Again – out today – has me hook, line, and sinker.
Whitmore started playing bass as an 8-year-old in her father’s family band, Daddy & the Divas, along with her sister Eleanor Whitmore, who plays with the Mastersons. As a pilot for Delta, her father would get the family out gigging around Texas when he wasn’t working.
“It’s what he and my mom loved to do,” nods Bonnie. “Music filled our house. The joke I make is, to be a Whitmore, you have to play an instrument, sing harmonies, and fly a plane.
“I don’t think I would have chosen this life if it hadn’t been something that I’d always done,” she adds. “You’re a product of what you grew up with. Your parents wind up influencing your music. I discovered music like the Eagles and Chuck Berry through my dad’s interpretations.
“Instead of listening to guys like Doc Watson, I’d listen to my dad singing Doc Watson.”
Lucky girl. Of course it helped that she grew up in Denton, a city strapped with the University of North Texas, which lays claim to one of the finest music schools in the country.
“Denton has a really great jazz program at the college and there was a lot of that,” she says, “but it wasn’t like living in Austin, where there’s great music all over town every night of the week. When I was 15, I made more money playing in a band as a job than anyone else at my school.”
Whitmore spent some time in Nashville before moving to Austin last year, where she linked up with Hayes Carll. The meeting provided dividends for the young Whitmore, who took Carll’s lessons to heart on the making of There I Go Again. The result: a more upbeat album than 2011’s Embers to Ashes, her debut.
“I’m not a kid playing in bars and I’m not just a hired bass player,” she reasons. “I’m doing this because there’s nothing else that I would rather do.”
A lifelong bassist, Whitmore’s advice to young Austin musicians is to “stick with it,” no matter how long that road may run
“There are short attention spans,” she said. “The harder it is, the better it will be.
“Don’t be afraid to use it as an outlet. I write songs as therapy. You can tell a story through a song. You can make a guitar sound like how you feel. I think that any time of creativity is good for anyone to grow.”
Bonnie Whitmore celebrates the release of There I Go Again on Wednesday, June 26, at the Cactus Cafe. The Mastersons open.
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