Whitey Morgan and the 78’s
9:30 p.m. Friday
Wormy Dog Saloon
311 E. Sheridan
“I don’t think there’s really any outlaw country these days. Outlaw country means going against the grain, and the head motherfuckers that are paying you to record these albums,” Morgan said. “Waylon and them, they were outlaws because the record companies wanted them to do one thing, they refused and did it their way.
“Nowadays, these guys claiming to be outlaw ... well, nobody’s trying to pay them to record an album. It’s phony. A lot of these guys just look like they’re trying too hard.”
Either way, the decidedly non-outlaw Morgan and his band, the 78’s, will tear up Bricktown’s Wormy Dog Saloon on Friday with their special brand of honky-tonkin’, beer-drinkin’ good-time tunes, mostly because, according to Morgan, “I’m just not very good at writing downer-type songs.”
Hailing from the economically depressed city of Flint, Mich., is not the inspiration for his music. That comes from a far deeper place.
“I play what I play because of my grandpa, who came up from Kentucky and taught me how to play guitar when I was a kid,” he said. “Back then, there were a lot of Southerners up here. People always say, ‘I didn’t know there were any hillbillies in Michigan,’ and I always tell ’em, ‘Who the hell do you think built all them cars?’” Country wasn’t Morgan’s first love.
After years of dabbling in punk, it took the death of his grandfather to point him toward country music as a career.
“I inherited his guitar and all his records,” Morgan said. “It just made more sense for me.”
Since picking up that guitar, he has toured and recorded nonstop, mostly thanks to a strong work ethic that won’t allow him to sit around the house. That said, it’s almost impossible for old-school country acts like him to compete with glossy, country-pop crossover acts like Taylor Swift.
“I’ve been in this long enough and I’ve met a lot of players in the game, so I know how the big machine works,” Morgan said. “I’ve come to accept it and I’ve moved on. There’s nothing I can do about it.”
While he accepts that he may not ever make it to quadruple-platinum status, the one thing he can’t accept is all the “pissing and moaning about how bad country radio is.”
“I’ll see it on Facebook or wherever, and they’ll say, ‘There’s just no real country music anymore.’ I just want to say to them, ‘Wake the fuck up!’ It’s everywhere; the problem is they’re not handing it to you on country radio. You actually have to go out and look for it. If you really give a shit about it that much ... eventually you’ll find it.”