Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz
or those who thought the Outlaw Country movement of the '70s is long gone dead, think again. That was made crystal clear in the double-barreled action of Cody Jinks from Texas and Whitey Morgan & the 78's from Michigan.
They are like minded, soul brothers, who happen to love folks like Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings. They also apparently have a deep love of pedal steel, which seems to have gone out of vogue for the musicians achieving commercial success today in country.
Jinks and Morgan (along with his band) certainly have the look down pat. Jinks is a big scraggly looking with a long beard and cowboy hat and a chunk of tattoos. Morgan and his band are of the big burly men variety - big beards, lots of tatts and physically imposing.
But looks wasn't what made these acts appealing. It's the music. That was certain from the start with Jinks, a Texan making his first appearance in Boston to a smallish, but most appreciative crowd of 250.
Jinks had the Jennings sound down pat with the opening "What Else Is New." He perfected the loping Jennings sound with a voice that filled the bill as well.
Jinks offered a few different musical styles, slowing it down on the title track of his latest, "I'm Not the Devil," a plaintive call that he's not guilty as charged.
He paid homage to the late Hag with "The Way I Am," with Morgan helping out on vocals as well, indicative of the camaraderie the two have forged along with their musical kinship.
Jinks significantly raised his profiled with the release in August of "I'm Not the Devil," hitting number four on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart, presumably thanks to a large number of buyers from his home state of Texas. Performances like this underscored why.
Jinks was a tough act to follow, considering that Morgan was not wildly different. No problem for the veteran with The Hag more of an influence.
There were lots of drinking songs and the dark side life in Morgan's music, starting with "Me and the Whiskey" and near the end, the upbeat, fun sounding, "I Ain't Drunk." Morgan's music didn't take prisoners. One gets the sense that these guys have lived what they sing about.
The Hag connection came through most clearly with the band's take on "Swinging Doors." He also covered outsiders of one sort or another like Johnny Paycheck on "11 Months and 29 Days" and Townes Van Zandt on "Waitin' Around to Die." Morgan paid homage to his Michigan roots with his pretty faithful version of Bob Seger's "Still the Same."
Morgan was more than happy to ride the songs to their conclusions, building them up with lots of guitar and pedal steel. The sound may be a bit more on the raucous side, but there's a lot to the music.
Jinks and Morgan made for a night of simpatico music. Life ain't pretty in Outlaw Country. Morgan ended the night with "Sinner," after all. Enough said. The pitfalls of life are pretty darn good, at least the way Jinks and Morgan made it sound.