Whitey Morgan and his 78's turned Midtown Live in NYC into a roadhouse last Thursday night. In stark contrast to the prepsters playing beer pong in the front room, behind the plain black doors and under the disco ball, a rough and tumble looking six piece took the stage to perform for a crowd that was more than hungry for real country music. The atmosphere of the venue jived perfectly with the feel of the band: gritty, a little dirty....and honest. The music definitely had an old school, honest to goodness country feel and you could sense Morgan has a reverence for those that came before him (Jennings, Cash and Haggard to name a few). His songs, fueled by stories of drinking, women, and drugs, are definitely for the working man (or woman). In addition to his own tunes like "Honky Tonk Queen," he did an incredible take on Springsteen's "I'm On Fire," and Townes' "Waiting Around to Die" as well as songs from Johnny Paycheck and Haggard. His band are a skilled, tight bunch, who seemed to be having as much fun on stage as the people in the crowd, which was full of Morgan devotees (lots of "whitey you're f--ing killing it") who were more than pleased that he returned to NYC after a few short months.
At times Morgan interjects a little rock and roll into his style (which is not a complaint), yet he still maintains the aura and sound of those true outlaws to which he has been compared. Morgan has a personality and a presence on stage with a voice that's just.....real. All in all it was a foot stompin' high energy, rowdy good time. When he was finished, the crowd--through hoots and hollers--brought them back for a two song encore that closed out the evening on a massively energetic note.
Supporting Morgan was Fort Worth based Cody Jinks, who released his fourth album, Adobe Sessions, in January. To put it simply and honestly, Jinks makes some mighty fine authentic country music (this from a guy who was originally in a metal band). His voice is warm, emotive, and, not to sound repetitive.....real, with story songs that seem personal, yet relatable. Pairing Jinks with Whitey on this run was perfection. It was Jinks first time in NYC, and even though he didn't appreciate the traffic, let's hope he makes it the first of many visits.
Whitey Morgan and the 78's new album, Sonic Ranch, is out Tuesday, May 19th. Best pick up a copy.