(This is the second guest article written by Cliff England, and part one of two in the “REAL country music from Michigan” series.)
With the passing of Waylon Jennings, and so many country heroes, fans will be hard pressed to find some true outlaws nowadays, but I’ve come to find Michigan still has a few. Just head up I-75 and you can’t miss them. Once you hear the first track of Honky Tonks and Cheap Motels you’ll understand what I mean. Whitey Morgan and the 78’s hailing from the cold and bitter streets of Flint, Michigan recently released their first full length album. This isn’t your modern day pop-country ensemble. In fact they are far from that.
Whitey Morgan, lead singer, is backed by an astounding group of musicians: Jeremy “Leroy” Blitz and Benny James on guitar, as well Jeremy Mackinder on bass and Mike “Pops” Popovich on the drums. Get these boys together and they are sure to bring out the inner honky-tonker in us all.
Honky Tonks and Cheap Motels, released last September, keeps to the core of the outlaw movement of the late 70’s. The tracks on the album range from the sober lonesome story of love gone sour in “Back to Back”, to the up-beat honky tonk drinkin’ tune of “Another Round”. It’s pretty easy to tell where Whitey and the boys are influenced. The sounds of Waylon, Willie, Merle, and Hank just pour out of them, like draft beer from a pitcher.
The essential country themes are all there: Loving, Cheating, Fighting, and Drinking. No topic is untouchable, including the complete lack of genuine country music in Nashville. The lines in the track “If it Ain’t Broke” ring so true:
“Nowadays in Nashville is like the Hollywood of the South. So called country singers singing songs they know nothing about. Swimming pools and fancy cars, dating them big time movie stars, well that don’t sound like country to me.”
The juke box classics do not stop there. Whitey even takes a stab at the Bruce Springsteen classic, “I’m on Fire”, and let me tell you Whitey cuts deep. A story of love leaving in “Goodbye Dixie”, and the raunchy life on the road Hank Williams Jr.-esque “Sinner”, helps solidify Honky Tonks and Cheap Motels as an essential country record of 2009. Rascal Flatts, Chuck Wicks, and Rodney Adkins are shaking in their polished rhinestone boots, because they hear these boys coming. Nashville beware there is a storm brewing in Michigan.
You can check out Whitey Morgan and the 78’s at www.whiteymorgan.com, or on their MySpace page, or catch them on the road this summer with the likes of Wayne Hancock, Shooter Jennings, and the Deadstring Brothers.