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Whitey Morgan at the Fillmore, 5 Things to Know
Flint isn't home for Whitey Morgan anymore. The Americana veteran is now a resident of rural northern California.
But the grit of his hometown is still in his music, as evidenced by "Hard Times and White Lines," Morgan's latest release with his band, the 78's.
Self-produced and recorded back at Sonic Ranch studios in Texas, where Morgan also made 2015's "Sonic Ranch," the 10-song set is both gritty and crafted a kind of contemporary outlaw country collection with a hint of Midwest and Motor City muscle. It also features some high-profile guests such as Larry Campbell and Silver Bullet Band regular Jim "Moose" Brown, along with a cover of ZZ Top's "Just Got Paid."
"Hard Times'..." release has, of course, sent Morgan and company back out on the road, with dates into December and a booking already at next April's Stagecoach Festival in Indio, Calif...
• "I really like the sound on this album," Morgan says by phone. "It's a little harsher, I would say, just a little grittier as far as the overall sound. Even the slow songs have an edge to them, a more aggressive sound even though they're more mellow. Everything's a little bit more aggressive, I would say, and that's what I wanted, just to be a little more out there, a little more ballsy, a little more raw."
• Then again, Morgan says that aggressive kind of attack is not particularly new over the course of his four albums. "I wouldn't know what to do with a record that was more mellow. I've got to keep pushing it in your face, I guess. And what my fans seem to want."
• Though most of the songs were written especially for the album, "What Am I Supposed to Do" has been in Morgan's sights ever since his friend Don "Doop" Dupree, a Detroit singer-songwriter and first responder, showed it to him about eight years ago. "He wrote the s*** out of that one. I heard him play it live and it hit me like no song has in such a long time because I could identify with it. A lot of people I knew in Flint, people in my family, went through that, when your job goes away when you're in your 40s. How do you start over at 45 when you've been doing something for 20 years of your life or longer. Being a musician and doing what I do, only one person can make my job go away, and that's me. But these people who worked their whole lives at General Motors or wherever else, what do you do? It really has a lot of meaning to me."
• This year also marks the 10th anniversary of Morgan's first album, "Honky Tonks and Cheap Motels," and he says he "couldn't be more happy" with the way his career has gone since then. "I think it's gone exactly how it should have. It hasn't been easy, but nothing worth doing is. The records have progressively gotten better, which you can only hope for. The crowds have only gotten bigger; I don't think I've played a show in 10 years where the next time I played there wasn't at least a 20 percent increase in the crowd. Most bands never experience that so, yeah, I'm a happy man."
Morgan says he's adjusted easily to life in California, near Yosemite National Park, which he says provides a welcome counter to his hectic musical life. "I met a girl out there and we got us a ranch and a lot of space. It's a tiny little town where everybody knows me, but they don't know me. My wife is pretty big in the community and does a lot of stuf there, which means I'm her husband there and not some big rock star or anything like that. It's peaceful and I've got a lot of privacy, which is something new for me. Being on the road, constantly surrounded by people, in my off time I want the complete opposite, and that's what I get out there. And there's not a man in that town that doesn't have a beard as big as mine. They're just real-deal mountain people, all super down to earth."
Whitey Morgan, Alex Williams and Ward Davis perform Saturday, Nov. 3, at the Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave. Doors at 7 p.m. $28.50-$78.50. 313-961-5451 or visit thefillmoredetroit.com.
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