The Whitmore Sisters, The Mastersons
Southgate House Revival, 111 E 6th St, Newport, KY
7pm doors, 8pm show, Buy Tickets
Ghosts are always with us, waiting for the right moment, or reason, to reveal themselves. Then a song, a stretch of road, or someone’s laughter hits your ear, and suddenly you’re back in the moment, feeling the rush of emotions as if time never moved on. For Eleanor and Bonnie Whitmore, two of roots music’s most accomplished songwriter/ instrumentalist/ vocalists, the ghosts chose to appear right as Covid became entrenched — when live music evaporated and people were isolated from each other.
Bonnie, whose four solo albums are all state-of-a-real-woman’s-heart jewels, decided to join sister Eleanor and her husband Chris Masterson in their Los Angeles closed circle for a break. Chris, who’s recorded four albums with his wife as The Mastersons, saw the visit as an opportunity to issue a practical mandate: If Bonnie was coming, it was time for the sisters to make an album. Not just an album, but “the album” — the musical inevitability that’s been simmering since a 22-year-old Eleanor was protecting her curly headed 15-year-old sister at gigs in local bars. The collection, along with two covers — a song by their pal Aaron Lee Tasjan (“Big Heart Sick Mind” and “On the Wings of a Nightingale” (written by Paul McCartney for iconic siblings The Everly Brothers) — was produced by Chris Masterson and completes Ghost Stories, their debut album which was released on January 21, 2022 on Red House Records.
The sisters’ closeness and unconventional upbringing, not to mention their melodic sensibility and pure blood harmonies, have created something truly special with their debut album.
“We have all these things that make us us,” Bonnie says. “Our mother was an opera singer; our father was a folk singer. Trained to fly as girls by a father who was an accomplished Navy Air carrier pilot, they were exposed to amphibious planes, jets, props and all sorts of aviation possibilities. Consequently, The Whitmore Sisters see the world from an above-the-world perspective. Marveling at the whimsy that comes with flying, they also acknowledge that flight allows you to see things in larger ways and make connections most people miss.
“We’re both seasoned musicians,” Eleanor offers. “We’ve made so many records on our own, for ourselves and with other artists. I’m classically trained. When we come together, we understand each other, because we have so much shared musical vocabulary.”
Ultimately, Ghosts Stories’ cathartic songs embrace the beauty and the experience of living. What came from lockdown and shared experiences —hiking the Grand Canyon at 5, playing bars at 15 or just embracing the beauty of living — is an album to take you places and make you feel so alive.
“Music should move people,” Eleanor affirms. “Or at least cause some kind of reaction. Sometimes it’s comforting, or you can rock out! I’ve always liked Woody Guthrie’s way of looking at it: “Music is to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.”