I can remember my first real exposure to country music back in 1992. I was a 9 year old in a beer joint in Goliad, Texas. Now before you start the judgments it was practically in my front yard across Highway 59 next to a grain elevator and I only went while the sun was up. I liked to shoot pool and had a lot of quarters and my neighbors owned the place called, Julian’s.
The jukebox sat in the back of the bar and it was the kind that had labels of 12 songs on each flap and it would flip over to the other side. You had to punch in the letter-number combination to pick the song you wanted to see. Julian had it set up so I didn’t have to pay for it to pick the music. The songs that stand out in my memory are “Straight Tequila Night” by John Anderson and “Who You Were Thinkin Of” by Texas Tornados.
I knew every word to both songs.
There was an innate sound to those songs that triggers nostalgia for me when I think about them and it’s the same feeling I get when I listen to Midland’s hit single, “Drinking Problem.” I don’t know if it’s because they are based out of Dripping Springs, Texas or if country music is starting to come full circle. After all, that was 25 years ago that I was first introduced to those melodic, steel guitar laced harmonies.
That’s a quarter century!
Midland’s band members, Mark, Cameron and Jess are a breath of fresh air in country music. There’s no denying the strong rhythm and blues and rock influences we’re hearing in today country music and while I don’t mind at all, I was kind of craving that more traditional sound. Truthfully, I didn’t know I was craving it until I heard “Drinking Problem.”
Today, on my drive to work I loaded up Midland’s debut EP and it was a pleasant surprise to hear more of the traditional, grass roots country sound emerge from my speakers. Their tale of low budget living with dreams of the big time comes through with “Check Cashin’ Country” and it was their bar loving song “Burn Out” that really took me back to Julian’s. “This Old Heart” and “Electric Rodeo” were the quintessential country tracks that accompany the rest of the EP perfectly.
By the end of my first listen, there was not a doubt left in my mind that all the nostalgia I felt when I heard “Drinkin’ Problem” was not a coincidence. These three guys are on a track that very few, if any, other country artists or groups are taking. They’ve taken the path of most resistance, the sound that is different than everything else in Country radio, they’ve taken the long, dirt road that’s grassed over but soon with their herd of a following it’s going to be clearly seen once again.
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