Whitey Morgan and the 78's are:
Eric Allen: Guitar, Lead and Backing Vocals
Ben Vermeylen: Guitar and Backing Vocals
Jeremy Biltz: Guitar
Mike Popovich: Drums
Jeremy Mackinder: Bass
Additional Musicians: Fred Newell: Steel Guitar
Eric Hoegemeyer: Drums on "Prove it All to You" and "Sinner", Organ on "Sinner", Tambourine on "Sinner." Liz Mackinder: Backing Vocals on "Back to Back" and "Love and Honor."
Engineers: Eric Hoegemeyer @ Rustbelt Studios and Jerry Bridges @ Nighthawk Studios.
Mixing: Al Sutton @ Rustbelt Studios.
Mastering: Chris Gooseman @ Solid Sound.
With their tellingly titled debut album, Honky Tonks and Cheap Motels, Whitey Morgan & the 78s try to transform the Motor City into Music City (that's Nashville, TN, for you Yankees out there). Surely no simple task, most would agree, but it seems that the Flint, MI-based quintet shares a singular obsession with the outlaw country movement, and, in the case of Morgan himself, an outright fixation on ol' Waylon Jennings. Accordingly, this 2008 debut, though recorded entirely in the Michigan chill, never wanders north of the Mason-Dixon Line, musically speaking. On the one hand, it boasts numerous laconic acoustic guitar numbers spiked with wonderfully weepy pedal steel, including the wistful lament, "Hold Her When She Cries," the soppy "Love and Honor," and the Waylon, Hank, Earl Scruggs, and Cash-citing country establishment screed, "If It Ain't Broke" -- not to mention a beautifully stylized cover of Bruce Springsteen's "I'm on Fire" that fits right in. On the other hand, it finds the boys perking up to tackle several whiskey-drenched honky tonkers like "Crazy (By Any Other Name)," "Honky Tonk Angel," "Another Round," and the candid and amusingly self-critical "Cheating Again." So aside from a selection of less-inspired iterations of these templates rounding out the album, the only major knock one can level at the group is that they may come off rather like an outlaw country tribute band to seasoned fans of the genre. Then again, who could begrudge Whitey Morgan and his crew's earnest desire to perpetuate the outlaw aesthetic in its purest form, least of all by opening quite a few eyes to its wonders among Small Stone's predominantly hard rock fan contingent? Like the song above says: "If It Ain't Broke"...
- Eduardo Rivadavia
Whitey Morgan and the 78’s steers clear of new country’s gloss, instead taking to the far-removed backroads to deliver a slice of rocking outlaw country music on HONKY TONKS AND CHEAP MOTELS. This 12-track affair sticks to the most prolific themes by some of the genre’s best while laying down an authentically composed collection of tunes complete with pedal steel pluckings and twangy melodies, driving home the down home appeal of Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Conway Twitty on cuts like the subtle “Cheatin’ Again” and the poignant “Goodbye Dixie.” Hailing from the downtrodden town of Flint, MI only helps Morgan and company’s case to convincingly sing with the heavy heartache portrayed on “Love and Honor” and “Hold Her When She Cries” and rock out with the desolation attached to “Sinner.” If you secretly stow a pair of cowboy boots and a ten gallon hat in the recesses of your closet, this album will provoke you to break out the duds and crack open a bottle of whiskey and contemplate.
- Mike SOS
Wow, I'm used to getting plenty of what they call "alt-country (that way overused term…. and I'm as guilty as anyone of using it) but these alcohol consumers hail from… erm…. Flint, Michigan. True, it's not Nashville but this gang, led by Eric "Whitey" Allen aren't conjuring up Mr Gram Parsons, nope these guys are going more for a Merle Haggard or Waylon Jennings vibe and they succeed mightily. Looooove that pedal steel and tunes like "Hold her When She Cries", "If it Ain't Broke", and their superb cover of The Boss's "I'm on Fire" prove these guys aren't just some flash in the pan trying to cash in on country's popularity. I call it the “real thing”.
- Tim Hinely
I’m sure Nashvegas hasn’t even noticed, but real country music is making a comeback. Thanks to folks like Dave Gleason’s Wasted Days and Hellbound Glory, C&W is getting gritty again, with tears ‘n’ beers replacing wine coolers and self-empowerment. Well, maybe comeback isn’t really the word – I doubt Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney are worried about falling chart placements – but the good stuff is bubbling under again. Whitey Morgan and the 78’s could stand proudly on the stage with Waylon Jennings (their most obvious influence), Merle Haggard and Johnny Paycheck without flinching – this ain’t ironic, nudge-nudge alt.country here, it’s the real, heartbroken, bruised-knuckled, blackout drunk thing. Morgan’s baritone was made for this music – I imagine as soon as he hit puberty his path in life was set, like it or not – and his band of young longhairs obviously grew up on their parents’ outlaw country stash. Morgan’s tunes sound like they come straight from his world-weary gut. Goodbye Dixie, If It Ain’t Broke and Love and Honor have it all over anything Carrie Underwood’s ever done – even a country cover of Bruce Springsteen’s I’m On Fire is worthy of scuffed boots and a Stetson. Sinner comes closest to rock, but only by the same percentage as ol’ Waylon might have done. Are y’all ready for the country? Whitey Morgan bets you are.
- Michael Toland