This was the heart of Saturday night, and honky-tonk singer-songwriter Whitey Morgan had Ryman Auditorium in an uproar.
Wearing a determined scowl and a long beard, Morgan prowled the stage as if looking for a fight. Now and again he’d let his band, the 78’s, carry the tune while he paused to pull on a bottle of whiskey.
“We’re settin’ here in the Mother Church,” Morgan said, gazing at the colorful Gothic windows at the back. “Come closer and sing with me.”
Down in front, hardcore fans raised their beers in salute. Up in the balcony, they were pounding on the oak pews and flinging fists at the ceiling.