Whitey Morgan & the 78’s: A rowdy good time

By Jared Curtis

In most people’s minds there are only two types of current Country music — the pop and bro-country sound coming out of Nashville and the rowdy, unapologetic outlaw country music created on the outskirts. It’s easy to see which side of the line Whitey Morgan and The 78’s are on, as they take a piss on the pop country sound with gritty, rowdy, real songs about people who work hard all day and drink all night.

Morgan recently released his newest record, Sonic Ranch, in May, and it has received rave reviews and plenty of praise thanks to an album full of foot stomping originals and a bevy of classic covers done Whitey’s way, including “Waitin’ Round To Die,” his version of the Townes Van Zandt favorite, which might be better than the original.

“It’s been great,” Morgan said from the road. “I haven’t read a bad review and the fans are loving it. Everyone I talked to said it’s the best album I’ve done and I couldn’t agree more.”

Morgan’s two previous albums (Grandpa’s Guitar and Born, Raised & Live from Flint) are a nice yen and yang mix of his music, but were marred by a dispute with his former label, Bloodshot Records. It’s a nice change for Sonic Ranch to be released on his own imprint, Whitey Morgan Music, without any behind the scenes drama of the past year.

“It’s been great not having to wait on anyone else and having the freedom to do whatever I want,” he said. “But the downfall is that all the mistakes are on me now, there is no one to blame but myself.”

With no drama surrounding the album, Morgan and The 78’s were able to really focus on the music and the process, creating an expansion the band’s outlaw country sound.

“My writing has definitely matured more on this record and our sound has gotten bigger. We wanted more of a raw sound with big bass and drums in your face and I think we achieved that on Sonic Ranch,” Morgan said.

The band is the true definition of road dogs, as they tour throughout the year, playing close to 200 shows all over the country. Some artists dread being on the road, but it’s second nature to Whitey.

“For me, touring is the biggest thing, and it’s naturally what I wanted to do when we started,” he said. “Bands used to tour the country until something happened or they just gave up. These days, the young guys in Nashville are just waiting around for someone to do it for them, but I came from that punk rock/DIY mentality, so if you don’t get out there and do it yourself, then no one will know about you.”

The touring has paid off, as Morgan has started booking bigger venues.

“It’s great to see more fans at every show. It’s proof that hard work pays off and more people are hearing the music. We’re just now starting to play the bigger venues, so it’ll be exciting to see 1,000 to 2,000 Whitey fans, but it could be out of control, so I feel kind of sorry for the bartenders and bouncers,” he laughed.

Although the band usually sticks to the dim lights of dive-y venues, they do play a few festival dates during the summer.

“Festivals are fun as a change of pace, but I’m not really a fan of playing in the middle day because it’s tough to get a drunk, rowdy whiskey vibe,” he laughed. “Festivals are fine, but I prefer a dark bar at night.”

As with most outlaw country artists, the fans are just as rowdy as the music, so expect a wild and crazy crowd blowing off a little steam at the Wild Buffalo on Thursday, July 30.

“Our fans really appreciate how much we tour and they appreciate how hard we work on stage every night,” Morgan said. “A lot of our fans are hard working, blue collar people, so they’ve worked all week and coming out to our show is their only time to relax and get rowdy. The more wild and crazy our fans get, the wilder we get on stage, and we all feed off the energy.”

There will be plenty of energy for fans to feed off of during the band’s first stop through Bellingham, so if you’re a fan of outlaw country or just looking for a rowdy good time, look no further than Whitey Morgan & The 78’s.

“If you’re up for having a wild and crazy time while listening to some old school, real country music then stop on out,” he said. “I guarantee we will be louder and more energetic than most country bands, with a hell of a lot more drinking.”

LIVE SHOW: See Whitey Morgan on July 30 at the Wild Buffalo. For more about the band see www.whiteymorgan.com. 

Published in the July 2015 issue of What’s Up!