There are many festivals out there now catering to independent country and Americana. But in three short seasons and amid a pandemic, Under The Big Sky Fest has quickly made the case for being the biggest and most important of all off the strength of its lineups.
It’s not that those “authenticity” concerns don’t continue to linger. But Midland is most certainly a mainstream country music bright spot, and has been ever since the band’s inception. This new album is no exception, once again taking Midland’s throwback 90s-era style…
I listened to the entirety of ‘The Sonic Ranch’ album by Midland and watched all of the 45-minute documentary so you don’t have to. It’s not that it’s terrible, or in any way offensive. For what it is, it’s fine, and you can’t approach either the album or the film as if these were finished products
Mike Harmeier, Caitlin Rutherford, Kyle Ponder, Zach Moulton, and the incomparable Omar Oyoque. Mike and the Moonpies as they’re know collectively. Also known as the greatest country music band in the world at the moment — Gary Stewart. The King of the Honky Tonks.
We though Mike and the Moonpies caught us completely off guard last August when they released a surprise album on us recorded in London. Now they have a brand new record of completely unheard songs written by country legend Gary Stewart on the way.
Midland will not be heading to Europe in a few days for scheduled tour dates in December as planned, and will also miss upcoming shows in Idaho and Las Vegas after postponing all their remaining tour dates in 2019 to deal with a family emergency. “We regretfully must postpone our upcoming tour due to a medical emergency.”
The effort to save country music must be a pragmatic one. Classic country like the stuff Midland is peddling has become a hot commodity in the mainstream and beyond in the last couple of years, and don’t question for a second that Midland and their big radio singles haven’t been a catalyst for this positive development.
I feel like Al Pacino in The Godfather III. “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!” I’ve moved on from the whole questioning of Midland’s media narrative thing, and numerous times. Ultimately, it’s all about the music, and Midland’s music is better than most anything else in the mainstream.
“If I ever meet that guy from Saving Country Music he is gonna see just how Country I really am!” says Mark Wystrach of Midland, while calling Saving Country Music’s coverage of the band “lies” and “click-bait.” But it was never about how “authentic” Midland was. It was about their attempts to unnecessarily embellish their back story.
“I feel like we manifested [Midland], because this is our playground…,” says Shane McAnally. “When these guys walked in and were a vehicle for those kinds of songs, and also quite capable of writing them as well, it was like ‘Weird Science,’ like, it wasn’t our design, but it’s almost like we put into a machine what we wanted, and out came Midland.”
I can’t stand these Midland guys. I can’t stand their faces, I can’t stand their bullshit Tom Selleck circa 1985 mustaches, I can’t stand their stupid getups, or the fact that they’re making a mockery of the authenticity of scores of Austin-based country artists, and legions of traditional country performers across the globe.
As time has gone on, I find myself disliking these dudes more and more because I can’t beat back the obvious reality that we’re being misled about these guys. Midland is a machination of the big Music Row industrial complex, no different than most major label artists.