Like the current he plugs his guitar into, the invisible message flashes instantly to the 600 people in Saturday night's crowd.
"Boot Scootin' Boogie" is being belted, and the message is delivered: Here's a clear, strong voice with a country accent. You won't miss a single word.
Playing to the rowdys in the back row is a habit for White.
"Sometimes, as a kid on the bottomland farm on Bear Creek," he recalled, "they'd run me out of the house, so I'd sit on the porch and sing."
Neighbors from as far away as a quarter-mile could hear his voice "across the water, and they'd tell me how much they liked to listen on their porches on a summer night."
He learned what voice teachers try to teach any singer -- get the song out of your head and into your belly.
White had no such teachers, other than his dad, Senate, who was a musician, but he got the songs deep by competing with katydids, whippoorwills, nighthawks, hoot owls, maybe foxhounds and bawling cattle.
"I rode our mule, Ol' Jen, 13 miles round-trip to get my first guitar," he said. "My cousin had bought it for $5, but he sold it to me for $1.50. It had three strings..."
"Dad got me a 50-cent chord book, and he taught me some, too. I was 11 years old," he said. White learned "She'll be Comin' Round the Mountain" and other old ballads. The songs left an indelible imprint.
"I love songs that tell a story, the ballads that Merle Haggard does, for example. Merle's my hero," he said. He could do a lot of what Haggard did after his dad spent $31.95 for a amplifier at the old Western Auto Store in Leitchfield.
In the 1960s, White was singing "House of the Risin' Sun," and "Memphis, Tennessee," and trying to sort out which thing he liked best -- "country music or mini-skirts."
Adding to the mix was the discovery of harmonizing.
"With the Wilson twins (Dale and Dennis) and Martin Cook, the quartet once opened a gospel show for the Oak Ridge Boys in Owensboro," he said.
But the group's appearances were mostly local. "We didn't have enough money for the suits and for transportation to the big gigs," he said.
And performing on the road has always been a chore for White. "You drive all day, sing half the night, then try to drive home... Well, the days just are too long," he said. "It'll kill you!"
White performs quarterly at Lincoln Jamboree, and fans wait for his name on the Jamboree's schedule.
People like Paul and Anna Spangler, who drive south from Decatur, near Ft. Wayne, Indiana, each time White sings.
"Anna has singled Tommy out," Paul said, "and that means something!"
"She also picked George Strait when he was just starting out, same with Randy Travis," he said. "She drug me all over the country to hear these guys and now, my star-maker's picked Tommy!"
But White's not sure he wants to go big time. "It's hard on you, and I like being home and singing for fun and for people I know and love," he said. "It's an honor to be asked to sing!"
And there are hitches even to that kind of fame. When White worked at a local factory, he was always getting requests to sing while the crew worked.
White sang, loud enough, of course, to drown out the machinery, while he worked, but the boss thought he was a slacker and ought to be fired.
We'd look pretty stupid, another supervisor told the boss if we fired this guy for singing on the job, especially when he's doing his job.
White stayed on and sang on until he got a route with the U.S. Postal Service out of Leitchfield.
"I drive 52 miles round-trip over the backroads of Southeast Grayson County, and I'm singing the whole way; the radio's on at a country music station while I sing along with the ones I know, learn the ones I don't know," he said.
There are 325 mailboxes on White's route, and the car window's down spring, summer and fall. People still sit on their porches as they did when White was a boy, catching snippets of "Branded Man," Lonesome Fugative," Farmer's Daughter," even "Flies in the Butter." He says he can learn a song he likes 10 times faster than one that doesn't touch him.
"Singing, if you love it," he says, "is just a hunger in you; you have to do it."
White was doing it Saturday Night at the Lincoln Jamboree, a show that will be 50 years old on September 11. That's nearly as long as White, 52, has been hypnotized by country music.
"My Grandma Rua White told me that when I was about 3 years old, I was already keeping time by beating an old pan with a spoon."
He comes by his love of country music naturally. His father played music for local churches, pie suppers, pound suppers and other local gatherings. And his grandfather was a fiddler with the old Pleasant Valley String Band.
In 1983, White got his special- made Martin guitar, one he had to pay 15 percent more for because he is a left-handed picker.
It's a long way from the back of a mule with a 3-string guitar to an on-stage introduction by Joel Ray Sprowls.
White waits in the wings while Sprowls, who himself will celebrate 50 years in show business in May, tells a couple death row jokes:
"Bowl of mushrooms.
"Yeah, I was afraid to eat them before..."
"They're out of season!"
White doesn't have to carry a pillowcase to keep the night air away from his guitar anymore. It catches the light, redirecting it to faces in the crowd. His boots are spit-shined.
He strides onto the stage, in his "outlaw" black hat with that special talisman he doesn't talk about intact, plugs in the guitar, the crowd stops talking...
If I sing all night long,
It's just a family tradition.
--Hank Williams, Jr.