To some it was much ado about nothing. But to many in Austin, TX, the Midland trio conducted a grave offense when a photo featuring the band ended up in a recent Washington Post feature with the sign of the legendary Sam’s BBQ in east Austin changed to the name of one of their songs.
The picture at the top of the Washington Post article shows Midland’s Mark Wystrach, Jess Carson, and Cameron Duddy hanging outside of a BBQ shack around a Cadillac with steer horns on the front. Many from Austin and beyond immediately noticed the storefront as that of the legendary Sam’s BBQ on on E 12th Street in Austin.
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.
It’s been 10 years since Country Music Hall of Famers Brooks & Dunn hit the road for a proper national tour. That will all change this summer and fall when the duo hits the road on the REBOOT 2020 Tour. Who will the opening acts be? According to the duo, there won’t be any. But there will be “special guests.”
All country albums, regardless if they emanate from a major label or receive radio play, are considered for Saving Country Music’s Album of the Year nominations. But not every year does a mainstream album make it. Even though one didn’t make it to the top of the heap in 2019, we had a bumper crop of quality mainstream country releases.
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.”
In many respects, the CMAs did that this year with their 2019 nominations, or at least better than many years. But the Album of the Year nominations were especially easy to pick apart in 2019. The biggest reason to second guess these nominations is that this current awards shows cycle has been exceptional for excellent mainstream albums.
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.
The heart welled up with excitement in many true country music fans when word came down that Brooks & Dunn had a new title on the way, only to be tempered by the fact that it’s a Reboot (nice double entendre there) of some of their old classics re-recorded with contemporary stars.
Here we are with a nice, tidy little bow wrapped around 2018, with the barrage of end-of-year lists finally published and in the past, the confetti from New Year’s celebrations all swept up, and the promise of an exciting new year of country music on the way. But how good or bad really was country music in 2018?
Brent Cobb, Chris Stapleton, Cody Jinks, Florida Georgia Line, Kacey Musgraves, Luke Combs, Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives, Midland, Miranda Lambert, Sam Hunt, Turnpike Troubadours, Tyler Childers
There’s nothing new about staring at the “New Artist” nominees for a country music industry awards show and being bewildered at the names you see. It’s an annual exercise. This year the names included in the CMA’s “New Artist of the Year” category were no different.
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.
“Countrypolitan” or “The Nashville Sound” are the terms used to describe the lush, orchestral approach to country music that took root in Nashville in the 60’s, which embellished the music with strings and chorus sections to make it appeal to a more distinguishing audience of the time. It was Music Row’s answer to the counterculture revolution.
So here we are once again staring at a list of the nominees for the ACM Awards, with few surprises, lots of predictable stuff, and finding ourselves full of self-reflection on if we should even care about the annual country music gala that is most susceptible to bloc voting and horse trading.
While in the independent realm of country music, 2017 went down as a record year for quality projects, the mainstream was downright abysmal pretty much across the board for both songs and albums. There actually were quite a few pretty good songs, but most struggled to gain traction in the charts.
The nominations for the 2018 Grammy Awards were announced Tuesday morning (11-28), and among the most nominated names are multiple traditional country and roots music favorites, including Chris Stapleton who comes in with three nominations, tied with award show favorites Little Big Town for the most nominations in country.
“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.
What Jon Pardi has done over the last year is prove that an artist can stick to a more traditional style, and not only sustain, but turn in career marks, even in this difficult environment for traditional artists in the mainstream, and a stacked field for artists looking to be launched. “She Ain’t In It” is a classic country crooning heartbreak song…
“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.”
With all the talk about the cheeky machismo of Midland lately, including many assigning the trio savior status for finally returning a semblance of traditional country back to the mainstream of country, folks seem have forgotten that William Michael Morgan did that very thing with a single called “I Met A Girl” in 2016.
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.
There will be one point of interest for some country fans at the 2017 VMA Awards on MTV. One of those “authentic, hardscrabble, Texas country” guys from the new band Midland will be up for no less than four VMA awards during the 2017 presentation. How, you say?
At the moment there are exactly zero women in country radio’s Top 20, and a whopping total of 4 in the entire Top 50 for an abysmal 8% representation. In fact this 4 out of 50 ratio has been pretty consistent now for the entirety of the “Body Like A Backroad” reign at #1.