Whitney Rose’s Full House

Austin’s newest country ingenue lands on South Congress

Prince Edward Island songstress Whitney Rose landed her new Thursday happy hour residency at the Continental Club when Mavericks frontman Raul Malo told club owner Steve Wertheimer about the album he’d just produced for her.

Last week – the show begins at 6:30pm – Rose flirted from the stage.

“Since we’re all just meetin’ each other, I thought we could start off with a Tom T. Hall.”

Photo by Jen Squires

Then she belted out “Harper Valley PTA.” Long black hair swept off her face evokes of a young Loretta Lynn. She sings in a silky western style with a torch twang.

Rose’s band is made up of Austin musicians Bryce Clarke on lead guitar, Scott Esbeck on bass, and Tom Lewis holding down drums. The quartet rehearsed for two days before beginning the residency Nov. 5. Besides the Continental, the bandleader also haunts the White Horse and the Broken Spoke, where she’s fallen head over heals in love with two-stepping.

“I could sit and watch the couples on the dance floor for hours,” she affirms. “It’s just such a stunning visual, couples of every age flying around the dance floor, and doing it so skillfully. I’m practicing now to join ’em as soon as possible.”

Rose released her second album, Heartbreaker of the Year, in August. She and Malo recorded it in four days.

“It was pretty spontaneous and a few of the guys hadn’t heard most of the songs,” she says. “We’d all sit there in awe of Raul’s creative genius and go record it his way.”

The two met in 2013 when she opened for the Mavericks in Toronto. She wound up being asked to open for the Nashville twangers’ full Canadian tour.

”I asked him to produce a record for me over post-show mussels,” recounts Rose. “His ‘sure’ was as cool and nonchalant as though I had just asked him if he wanted another beer. It was cool because working alongside Raul and the rest of the Mavericks guys was so damn educational in that I knew I still had a lot to learn from them at that point.”

Soon enough, she found herself living in Austin.

“I’ve been hearing about how special the Austin music scene is for years. I’ve been told countless times that I would be like a pig in mud here. I’ve also always been a fan of packing up all of my earthly belongings and moving to new places.

“This time I figured, why not Austin.”

Rose spent her childhood on Prince Edward Island with her mother and her grandparents before moving to Toronto. She remembers her grandmother singing around the house and nights when their family friends would came over for drinks and songs around the kitchen table. She has a vivid memory of her grandfather seated at the head of the table singing “Ring of Fire” a capella at the top of his lungs.

“My mother was pretty young when she had me, so my aunts and uncles were still in the house too,” she says. “It was our own little weird version of Full House. My first gig was in the kitchen playing Hank Williams and Keith Whitley songs for $1. My grandparents ran a little bar, so my immersion into the bar scene came pretty early. Not your typical childhood I suppose, but hey, it was pretty wonderful.”

Rose’s grandfather past away this summer.

“I was away from home, but my grandmother would describe his smile when I told them news of my life, and I became addicted to trying to make him smile. It got to the point that when I got any good news about my music, I would be more excited to tell my grandparents than about the news itself. It’s probably been like that my whole life, but I didn’t really realize it until this summer.

“Whatever good is in me is because of my Mam and Pop, and being worthy of the love and support they have given me propels me daily.”

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Whitney Rose, Raul Malo, Mavericks, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Tom T. Hall, Hank Williams, Keith Whitley, Steve Wertheimer, Contienntal Club, White Horse, Broken Spoke, Bryce Clarke, Scott Esbeck, Tom Lewis

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