A long time ago, sometime in 2007, my big sister took me to my first gig at the Enmore Theatre for my fourteenth birthday. It was to see Josh Pyke on his ‘Monkey with a Drum’ tour. I was a bright- eyed, impressionable young thing ready to soak up the live show experience and a can of Tooheys that she snuck into my hand.
Whitley sure knows how to get your heart running with his emotional tunes. We just know tears will surface when you hear him or maybe we’re just suckers for sweet/sad music, so have your tissues at the ready.
As can be said, Mr Pyke played an outstanding show and I bopped to every minute of it. However my mind kept wandering back to the young man in the vintage cowboy shirt that played as the support act. His name was Lawrence Greenwood, also known as Whitley. I’m not sure if it was the music, the beer or my raging hormones, but by god was I captivated by this guy. He had his audience smitten with his boyish good looks (or was that just me?) and his unassuming yet cheeky nature on stage.
I saw him standing at the bar after the gig. The fourteen year-old me ran up to him like an excitable puppy (or like some modern-day crazed, pimply Ed Sheeran fan) and took out my camera, smooshed my cheek against his, snapped a shot of us then ran away giggling.
Lawrence Greenwood comes from the windy south coast of Victoria. He started out playing in hardcore heavy metal bands and somewhere along the way made a transition into the world of folk music. His first album The Submarine came out later in 2007 and I played it on high rotation during the long school nights.
Whitley combs together acoustic folk with subtle electronica that is smoothly intriguing. The hushed tales of love and loss in tracks like I Remember and More than Life are to me like a warm cup of tea and they hug you from the inside.
Whitley was also part of the Australian collaborative album No Man’s Woman, a project where male vocalists covered some of the most famous songs performed by women. He did a rendition of Bjork’s classic Hyperballad with a stunning string quartet arrangement.
Go Forth, Find Mammoth was his second release in 2009. The album as a whole had more dense, upbeat and playful feel in comparison to The Submarine. His knack for storytelling is as evident as ever particularly in tracks like Head First Down and Bright White Lights that speak of delving into unknown territory and new beginnings.
Greenwood took a break from Whitley after a tour in 2010 and went on to travel and study abroad. For a while, it seemed as if there would be no return, but thankfully he came back to the motherland and Whitley rose from the ashes. If you happen to be one of those fortunate beings that snapped up a ticket to Splendour in the Grass, you can catch Whitley amongst a multitude of other talented artists in that insane line-up. Here’s hoping he’ll be wearing that awesome cowboy shirt.
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