Cameron, Jess and Mark from Midland share their local favorites
Midland photographs by Harper Smith
We were thrilled when Midland agreed to be interviewed for our March issue — and even happier when the scheduling stars aligned, making way for the Grammy-nominated band to be photographed for the cover.
Midland’s members had become friends years earlier in Los Angeles, when each was trying to make a go of it in the music business. They reunited in 2013, at Duddy’s wedding in the Tetons, and a year later, they decided to officially form the country band they had been dancing around for years. The guys soon landed at El Paso’s Sonic Ranch to begin recording what would become their debut album, “On The Rocks.” Shortly after their time in El Paso, Duddy and Wystrach joined Carson in Austin, who had taken up residence in the area. When not touring, Duddy and Carson now call Dripping Springs home, while Wystrach, the bachelor of the group, is based in South Austin.
On a bright day in January Nicole Beckley and I found ourselves in Dripping Springs as the band popped into Mazama Coffee Co. In between photo set-ups, the guys shared some of their favorite local spots, both in Dripping Springs and in Austin.
Bassist Cameron Duddy lives on a ranch with his wife, photographer Harper Smith, and their young son. The family’s property, populated with pigs, horses, goats, and the occasional angry chicken, has become the main meeting and rehearsal spot for Midland. Duddy shared some of his go-tos in and around Dripping Springs, which he affectionately calls “Drip”…
“Mercer [Street Dance] Hall is the local honky-tonk, and it’s where Midland got some of its first gigs.”
“The Barber Shop is the local watering hole — locals only, though.”
“Homespun [Kitchen and Bar] has the best bloody marys I’ve ever had in my life. Great breakfast too.”
“I’ve been around the world, and my favorite theater to watch a movie is the Alamo Drafthouse on Slaughter Lane [in Austin]. If Midland ever makes a movie, it’ll premiere at The Drafthouse.”
Guitarist Jess Carson, along with his wife, Camille, used to own a vintage store in Portland, Oregon. His affinity for, and knowledge of, all things vintage is eminently evident in his recommended haunts…
“I’ve been to darn near every antique mall in America, and we’ve probably got the best one in Austin: Uncommon Objects. They’ve got great Navajo jewelry, things for the house — and I’ve even found guitars there.”
“Feathers, off South Congress, is my favorite vintage-clothing spot. They’ve got vintage rock tees and tattered Levi’s.”
“The Austin Antique Mall is also a cool spot. It’s huge, so set aside some time to comb through it. And Style Station is Central Texas’ best-kept secret. If you’re ever just north of Waco in West, Texas stop in and talk conspiracy theories with the owner. He has a crazy collection of old western shirts, cowboy boots, and deadstock Levi’s.”
Lead vocalist Mark Wystrach grew up on a ranch in Arizona steeped in country music — his parents owned the local honky-tonk. Based in Austin now, he is the group’s resident expert on a night spent drinking, listening to live music, and “classing it up” on South Congress Avenue…
“Well, if you’re going out for a night on the town in Austin, it most likely will involve live music and dancing, and there probably is no better place for that than The White Horse —smoking country bands and terrific two-steppers.”
“The upstairs lounge at The Continental Club is a favorite mid-week haunt of mine with no cover charge and excellent nightly musical talent.”
“If you’re looking for a more subdued but intimate setting, look no further than the house that Townes [Van Zandt] built: The Cactus Cafe on UT’s campus.”
“Vespaio is my go-to if I’m looking to class it up, an Austin institution that serves up delicious, fresh, from-scratch Italian food.”