“Countrypolitan chanteuse” Whitney Rose enthralled the audience at Gypsy Sally’s last Wednesday evening with a mix of original songs and classic covers. Slinging her guitar, “Aggie,” the highly-regarded singer-songwriter opened with a Don Williams cover, “Tulsa Time.” Other covers included Nick Lowe’s “Couldn’t Love You,” (I think), Delbert McClinton’s “Two More Bottles of Wine,” and two Tom T. Hall songs, “Harper Valley P.T.A.” and (one of my very favorite songs) “How I Got to Memphis,” as well as “You Don’t Own Me,” made famous by Lesley Gore in the ’60s. Rose played several songs from last year’s highly regarded album, Rule 62: “Arizona,” “Better to My Baby,” “Can’t Stop Shakin’,” “Time to Cry,” “You Don’t Scare Me,” and “You’re a Mess.” She threw in “My Boots” and “Three Minute Love Affair” from last year’s EP South Texas Suite. Rose sang “The Devil Borrowed My Boots,” “Only Just a Dream,” and the title track from her 2015 album Heartbreaker of The Year.
Rose, a native Canadian, grew up in Charlottetown, the capital of Prince Edward Island province, where she was raised by her mother and grandparents, who ran a bar called the Union Hall. A performer from a young age, Rose would crawl downstairs after her bedtime to sing her favorite song, Hank Williams’s “There’s A Tear in My Beer,” to customers, sometimes for a dollar tip. As an adult, a move to Toronto led to Rose immersing herself in the scene around Cameron House, a legendary local club. In 2012, she released her self-titled debut on the Cameron House label.
In 2013, Rose got a break when she opened for the Mavericks. This led to Mavericks frontman Raul Malo producing and singing backup vocals on her second album, Heartbreaker of the Year (2015/Cameron House). The album, rated four stars on Allmusic, received praise from American Songwriter, Rolling Stone, and the New York Times.
In 2017, Rose released an EP, South Texas Suite (Six Shooter Records), and a lauded album, Rule 62, with Raul Malo producing again. The title, Rule 62, refers to a suggestion from Alcoholics Anonymous, “Don’t Take Yourself Too Damn Seriously.” The album landed on several best-of-2017 lists: AllMusic Best Albums, Wide Open Country 25 Best Albums, and Yahoo! Music Best Country Albums.
David and Karen Ensor opened Gypsy Sally’s five years ago, in September 2013. The venue, located on the Potomac riverfront in the Georgetown section of Washington, DC, offers a laid-back listening experience. Gypsy Sally’s books a number of Americana acts, such as John Kadlicek of the Grateful Dead, alt-country pioneers The Bottle Rockets, and Levon Helm collaborators (and Dylan guitarist) Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams. The venue always offers both seating and a standing pit in front of the stage. For tour dates and info, look here: https://whitneyrosemusic.com/