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Whitey power


Photo: Clay Abbott

While many critics are
quick to label Whitey Morgan as part of the new breed of “outlaw
country,” a movement begun in the 1970s by the likes of Merle Haggard
and Waylon Jennings, he is just as quick to put that dog down.

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.

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.”

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.”

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.”

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

“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.”

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.”

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.”

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