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Whitey Morgan's 'Sonic Ranch'

Chances are, if you're not a fan of modern country music—which Tom Petty recently called “bad rock with a fiddle”—you'd absolutely love Whitey Morgan and the 78's.

Morgan, a big, bearded native of Flint, Michigan, has about as much to do with the mainstream Nashville country music scene as Kim Jong-un.

His brand of country music full of gnarly Telecasters, dark and eerie ripping pedal steel guitars and songs about drinkin', lyin', cheating—you know, broken lives and broken hearts.

On his new studio album, Sonic Ranch, will be released May 19 via Whitey Morgan Music, Morgan practically bleeds into each song, resulting in a rough-and-tumble honky-tonk noir song collection.

Recorded at Sonic Ranch in Texas with producer Ryan Hewitt (The Avett Brothers, Red Hot Chili Peppers), the album's fighting spirit reflects Morgan's childhood.

"I got my ass kicked on a daily basis and fought like hell each and every time. A growth spurt eventually put a stop to all of that." Morgan witnessed the toll the city's troubled economy had on the people closest to him and informs his musical stylings. "Growing up in Flint ignited the 'never give up' attitude I apply to every part of my life. That's what you learn when you grow up in that town. You also learn that you don't take shit from anyone, ever."

Perhaps it's what made Morgan "partial to the outlaw arm of country music.

, and unapologetic in his rendition of it," (Boston Globe) evident on tracks including the album's imposing opener "Me And The Whiskey" and formidable "Aint' Gonna Take It Anymore." Yet the artist who learned his first chords from his grandfather—a life-long bluegrass picker - reveals depth and sensitivity on originals, "Leavin' Again" and "Good Timin' Man."

Of his musical inspirations—including Jennings, Cash and Paycheck—Whitey shares, "I just always dug that sound. It was easy to grab onto those half-time grooves, and the more hard-hitting stuff, because I'd come from playing more rock & roll-type things."

Whitey Morgan—the honky-tonk alter ego of Eric David Allen—brings his undeniably powerful live show to more than 20 cities this Spring with stops in Austin, Nashville, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia and, of course, The Motor City, starting March 6 - see dates below.

  • 5/1 - Flint, MI - The Machine Shop
  • 5/2 - Flint, MI - The Machine Shop
  • 5/6 - Omaha, NE - The Waiting Room
  • 5/7 - Des Moines, IA - Wooly's w/ Cody Jinks
  • 5/8 - Minneapolis, MN - Cabooze w/ Cody Jinks
  • 5/9 - Chicago, IL - The Bottom Lounge w/ Cody Jinks
  • 5/14 - New York, NY - Midtown Live w/ Cody Jinks
  • 5/19 - 'Sonic Ranch' Release Day
  • 5/23 - West Hollywood, CA - Whisky A Go Go

Damian Fanelli, online managing editor at Guitar World, plays B-bender guitar and is learning pedal steel guitar as we speak. It makes his brain hurt. Follow him on Twitter.

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Damian Fanelli

Damian is editor-in-chief of Guitar World magazine. From 1998 to 2014, he was one third of Mister Neutron, an instrumental rock act that toured the universe and elsewhere and released three albums via Austin-based Deep Eddy Records. These days he performs with several New York City-area bands and can often be spotted with one of his many, many, many B-bender-equipped guitars. In past lives he was GW’s managing editor and online managing editor – and he still can’t believe he got to write the liner notes for the latest SRV box set.