Midland: Making Old Country New a last look at the Fair

Midland’s trio jamming out at the Fair.

by Kylee Brown California Polytechnic University San Luis Obispo 

In the early 2010s, Mark Wystrach (lead vocals), Cameron Duddy (bass guitar, vocals), and Jess Carson (guitar, vocals) got together and formed a country music trio named Midland. The band initially bonded over their shared love of classic country music and aspired to add a retro flair to modern country music. From Midland, Texas, the band reportedly chose their name in homage to an old Dwight Yoakum song, “From Here to Midland.” Their eclectic brand of music is said to make old country new and appeals to a broad range and age of fans. Much like the Ventura County Fair itself, which brings young and old together to share live music, rides, and other excitements, the trio brought a large and enthusiastic crowd of all ages when they performed at the fair on August 2nd, 2023, kicking off the entertainment for the fair’s opening night.

22-year-old Ventura native David Koger attended the concert with his dad John Allen Koger. David shared that Midland is his favorite country band after being introduced to the band a little over a year ago. “This is definitely the best country concert I have ever been to,” he said. “It feels more local and more energetic, and granted, I was at the front; it felt pretty amazing.” David had attended Ventura County Fair concerts in the past and gushed about Midland, stating that it was his favorite country music experience. When asked what appeals to David about live music, he responded, “It’s slightly different every time you go to a live show–it’s not the same recording you hear every time on the radio.” David’s father, John Allen Koger, is a fan of a wide range of country music, from Kenny Rogers, Brad Paisley, and Garth Brooks to Midland. John said, “Classic country has a ‘feel-good’ to it and tells a really good story which is kind of the definition of country music in general.” John shared that upbeat styles of country music appeal to him, and that’s what he enjoys about the Grammy Nominated band the most.

The crowd included many local Ventura folks as well as people who traveled to attend the concert. Hailey Johnson is a self-proclaimed cowgirl, a dedicated country music fan, and spent many years as a competitive equestrian. The 20-year-old college student drove down from her hometown in Santa Ynez to see Midland live at the fair. “I was happy to make the drive out to Ventura for this concert,” said Johnson, “I think this was the first concert where I was able to get close and right up front, the energy was immaculate, and the people up front were true fans. I loved it.” Johnson said she also appreciated the diverse crowd that attended. ‘I liked being with my friends in real-time, bonding over a band we would listen to in our cars, and now finally seeing them live and being able to sing along with the band,” she said.

As John Koger reflected, the concert was a unifying event for the entire crowd. “I’d heard Midland on the radio, and I knew they were one of David’s favorite bands,” he said. “The highlight was just the fun vibe and people all having a good time, dancing and singing together.”

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