Whitey Morgan and the 78's
  • Whitey Morgan and the 78's
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Whitey Morgan & the 78's

“There’s a lot of good shit happening right now.” Whitey Morgan says this in answer to my question about the present-day state of traditional country music. “Sometimes, I see three generations of families at our shows.” Meaning, a much younger demographic. Why? “People like real, genuine music. That’s not surprising.” It’s all good, he says, except maybe rock and roll. “I haven’t heard a new good rock band in I don’t know how long.”

Morgan’s talking on the phone from the Sierra foothills. “We live about 15 minutes from the south gate of Yosemite.” He checks out throughout the conversation to talk to someone else in the room. “My son,” he explains. “He’s two-and-a-half.” Born Eric Allen, Morgan’s the lead vocalist, rhythm guitar, and main songwriter for the band. The 78’s are a honky tonk country music outfit, and about as old-school as it gets. They’ve mixed countrified Van Halen and ZZ Top songs into a set list perfect for any beer bar jukebox in the rust belt. Lots of pedal steel, simple lyrics, and vocals that sound as if they rumble out of Morgan’s chest. The 78’s have covered trad country artists too. “And people thought they were originals. They didn’t know who the hell Waylon Jennings or Merle Haggard was.”

That said, the 78’s songbook sounds as if it were penned by a guy like Haggard. For example, “What Am I Supposed to Do?” a lament common to the unemployed in towns like Flint, Michigan, where Morgan grew up. Morgan says it caught on slowly, but is now his most-played song. “A lot of blue collar dudes are passing it around, I guess.”

Does he offer a solution? No. “That’s the kind of question you leave up in the air. Everybody’s experience is different. When I’m touring and playing that song, it resonates with a lot of people. We’ve been dealing with this a lot in this country.”

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