On a quiet Tuesday in Toronto, with much of the music community still hungover from Canadian Music Week, three dudes from Texas made their first visit to Canada and played a showcase at the Dakota Tavern.
Midland, all the way from small town Dripping Springs, TX, hit the small stage in front of fans and industry and showed everyone why they’re being pegged as fast risers and the next big thing.
Mark Wystrach, Jess Carson, and Cameron Duddy make up the band. Writing, singing, and playing together, these guys are legit. They strum and pick and croon together, offering harmonies that reminded us of Alabama in their smoothness, richness, and quality. Don’t get us wrong, they aren’t Alabama 2.0, that’s not their sound, but they are sweet, sweet, sweet to listen to.
Their debut EP, Midland, was released in October 2016, and features 5 tracks that do an excellent job of introducing the band to fans of country music. They also hooked up with Spotify at SXSW 2016, which turned into the Spotify Sessions playlist that was released in January of this year.
Note: The boys quickly became familiar with Toronto and Canada press, hitting three TV outlets on their day in the city, before even thinking about getting to the Dakota for a cold beer and their stage time.
Having taken a listen to the Spotify Sessions, I felt like I had a heads up for what has going to come in the stripped down live show… and maybe I did, but my expectations were still quickly blown away. To see three guys so locked in, in such a small and intimate setting, was awesome. To hear their voices play off of, and join each other, was fantastic. And to remember that we’re going to have the chance to watch them do it again, bigger and louder, at Boots & Hearts 2017, was the bonus.
We heard Midland move through tracks we’ve heard including, Check Cashing Country (hit play on the video clip), This Old Heart, Burn Out, and Champagne For The Pain… and we were treated to Altitude Adjustment, which is a wonderfully cheeky love song to the state of Colorado, and their legalized weed.
We also heard Mark, Jess, and Cameron roll through Fourteen Gears, Gator Boys, and their current Canadian country charts top 40 single, Drinkin’ Problem. And through each one of those songs we nodded and tapped our toes and sang along when we felt like we had a handle on the words. It was the small venue gig coming through with the moments and memories that all music fans dream of.
It also needs to be noted that Midland are funny. All three of the hatted performers took their turns hitting punch lines, taking shots at eachother and themselves, and generally having a good time as entertainers. There were laughs and whistles in the crowd, and they were all well deserved.
Country music fans are starting to learn a little about Midland now through their radio play and press… and soon, sooner rather than later, they’re going to know a whole lot more about who they are and what they can do on stage and in the studio.
Stay tuned – you’re going to like it!