Photo Credit: Timothy Norris / Getty Images for Big Machine Records
North Hollywood, CA (October 16, 2019): By the time Midland swept into their double Grammy-nominated “Drinkin’ Problem” at the legendary Palomino Club, the beer was gone, the lights were low and the dance floor was once again gently churning with knots of people two-stepping to the trio’s harmony-driven country music. If the bar on North Lankershim no longer served as Southern California’s refuge for old school honky-tonk and classic country fans, for one night only Midland brought it back with a sound that was equal parts Laurel Canyon, Dripping Springs and Lower Broadway.
“They told us the Dos Equis was gone near the end of the set,” marveled lead singer/guitarist Mark Wystrach. “It’s a good thing the Titos almost held out… It’s not that you wanna be drunk to listen, but more that this kind of country deserves a few cold ones.”
With a prominent slot on the 2020 Stagecoach Festival announced that morning on The Ellen Degeneres Show, Midland, nominated for New Artist & Vocal Group at November’s CMA Awards, was intent on enjoying the chance to re-open the storied club joint in North Hollywood, who’d hosted Haggard, Charlie Rich, Jerry Lee Lewis, Commander Cody, Emmylou Harris, Dwight Yoakam, kd lang and Lone Justice, as well as served as a pop-up play for Bob Dylan, John Fogerty, George Harrison and Willie Nelson.
“You think about who’s been on this stage,” said bassist/vocalist Cam Duddy, “you can’t help but feel connected to so much greatness. We draw on the past for what we do. So to be able to come here, to return the Palomino to what it was meant to be – even for one night – that means something.”
Between celebrating their Stagecoach slot, unveiling their cover of touring trade Pollstar and the last three years of building it on the road as well as the radio, the scrappy band delighted fans who’d stood in line a couple hours to get in with songs from their #1 debut Let It Roll and On the Rocks. In a room mixed with fans, friends, VIP music supervisors, CAA’s Rob Light, Sandbox Entertainment uber-manager Jason Owen and media from Billboard, Daily Variety, HITS, NPR, Spotify and Pollstar, Midland mixed their signature cocktail of sweat, fun and music, including a terse cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain.”
“This is what we do,” says Carson. “There’s nothing more fun for us than being on that stage, playing these songs and giving people a reason to come out and have some fun. When we look out and see those people dancing and singing out songs back to us, nothing feels better. So what better way to celebrate so much great stuff happening than what we just did?”
An unapologetic hybrid of classic country’s embrace of grown-up themes of drinking, cheating and seduction, Pollstar deemed them “21st Century Honky Tonk All-Night Band.” Whether the rockabilly jilted girl fixer “Mr. Lonely,” the set-opening tone-setting “Playboys,” or the lush “Cheatin’ By The Rules,” Midland showed themselves to be a ragtag group who plays it with the same verve that marked Cliffie Stone’s legendary Talent Night or Ronnie Mack’s Tuesday night Barn Dance.
With the Academy of Country Music, Dos Equis, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Igloo Coolers, Pollstar and Waterloo as sponsors, Midland at the Palomino gathered hipster and roper-sporting cowboys, 20-somethings, old guarders, hipsters, former Pal cocktail waitresses and the amazing team from the Valley Relics Museum who brought the original neon sign in with a crane to reign over the parking lot one more time.
Some nights you just have to be there. For the true believers who spent years in the low light of Tommy Thomas working class, Hollywood cowboy boy, that was just what happened.