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Whitey Morgan keeps the outlaw in country

When country music icon Merle Haggard died on his 79th birthday last April, scores of musicians performing under his now-homogeneous genre's banner expressed reverence for his influence and remorse for his passing. Unfortunately, few (if any) of these clichéd pop country players can claim any original material that audibly bears the honest, rough-hewn influence of Haggard.

But Whitey Morgan and the 78s? They have plenty.

Spin opening track “Me and the Whiskey” off last year’s “Sonic Ranch” and you’ll feel the spirit of the late Hag sitting next to you, scratching his whitened stubble and nodding in approval. But similarities aside, Morgan and his gang of sonic outlaws from Flint, Mich., are certainly intent on keeping the unvarnished edges on their corner of country, as should be evident when they appear for a show at 8 p.m. Dec. 16 inside the Waiting Room (334 Delaware Ave.).

Whether on the aforementioned, rye-drenched rockers or haunting covers of Springsteen (“I’m on Fire”) and Townes Van Zandt (“Waitin’ ‘Round to Die”), Morgan and Co. have already shown local audiences what they can do, most recently at Black Rock’s Sportsmen’s Tavern two summers ago. This week, they’ll return to earn new fans and to carry on the genuine country imprint of Haggard — whose impact on artists like Morgan is far from dead.

Singer/songwriter Tony Martizez will open, and this is an all-ages show. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 general, $75 for a VIP ticket that includes a meet-and-greet (

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