Motor City Rides 

Lately Detroit appears to be on the verge of becoming Nashville North. To add to our impressive soul, rock, jazz, hip hop, blues, techno and noise scenes, there's now a honky-tonk and outlaw-tinged country music scene drawing inspiration from the hard-working blue-collar towns in our midst. Downriver you've got Doop & the Inside Outlaws and Ty Stone, to the north you've got Sponge frontman Vinnie Dombroski's Orbitsuns and Sponge alum Kurt Marschke's Deadstring Brothers. And to the far north you've got Flint's Whitey Morgan and the 78's.

Though vocalist-guitarist Whitey Morgan (aka Eric Allen) has been in rock and metal bands, one listen and it's as if he was born to sing country. And if you're born to sing country, you're born to be on the road. 

Since Whitey and his bandmates released their debut album Honky Tonks and Cheap Motels on Scott Hamilton's great stoner rock label (Small Stone) last year, they've been following old Waylon's tracks and playin' every whiskey-stained dive that'll have 'em.

The band's touring ride? It's Whitey's own 2001 Ford Econoline van. And because the band uses a trailer to haul gear, Whitey (who for years worked in auto body shops) installed two beds in the van to catch some sleep on overnight hauls. 

Shit, the boys definitely need a good night's rest after a liquor-drenched stand at some honky-tonk that'd make a Human Eye show tame by comparison.

"Fights are not uncommon at our shows" Whitey grins. "Once these two guys got into a fight right in front of me and destroyed my guitar pedals. Later on we found out they were related." Such stories should provide good song fodder when the band records their follow-up album this December at Levon Helm's Woodstock studios. 

Find out more about Whitey Morgan and the 78's at myspace.com/whiteymorgan. See the band perform on Tuesday, Nov. 10 at Club Bart in Ferndale and at Ty Stone's Thanksgiving Eve blowout at St. Andrew's Hall in Detroit. 

More by Doug Coombe

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