Five Minutes with Jess Carson, lead guitarist and vocalist for Midland

by Martin Ramirez on March 25, 2024 in Entertainment,

The popular country music trio Midland will be headlining Day 2 of the upcoming Landlock Festival, a three-day event uniting coastal and inland culture in a uniquely Texan way. The Texas-sized celebration will feature pro-surfers, five coastal-inspired foodie villages, a water park with a wave pool and lazy river, and live music from over 20 bands. 

TLM recently sat down with Jess Carson who provides rhythm guitar and vocals for Midland to discuss the festival, as well as Midland’s creative influences and new album. In addition to the Landlock Festival, Midland will be traveling to a city near you this Spring on the Up In Texas Tour

Midland is headlining Saturday, May 4 of the Landlock Festival at Waco Surf. How cool is that event? Great music, pro surfers battling, amazing food and just all sorts of fun in the sun. And it’s all wrapped up in this uniquely excellent experience. What excites you the most?

Playing cross-genre festivals is my favorite. It’s just such a diverse crowd and group of people backstage. These festivals tend to have a lot of stuff going on for the audience. This one is no exception. And there’s just going to be so much to do and see. Surf competition. Horse riding. Lazy river. I’m sure it’s just going to be an all-out spectacle.

Landlock Festival will feature three days of bands, food, and beach culture. Courtesy photo.

Your tequila brand Insólito is playing a major part of this festival, not only as a sponsor, but with events like the taco and tequila tasting dinner. For any of our readers who don’t know, can you tell us about your tequila brand and what it personally represents for the band?

That’s something that we’ve been very hands on with. We went to Mexico and built the whole case profile. Everything from the design of the bottle and down. We’re very proud of it. It’s a high-end tequila that includes blanco, reposado, añejo, and extra añejo. It’s fun to do events where Insólito is a sponsor. We’ll do specialty cocktails for the event, and it’s just another reason I know it’s going to be an all-out party. Anytime we get tequila involved, it’s going to be fun.

The bottles are gorgeous. They really represent your band which has been known for having a retro-revolutionary style. It’s very independent and bold. Having owned a vintage store in the past, how much of this was your influence?

I think we all tend to like things from the past, whether it’s clothes or anything. It kind of goes hand in hand with our musical influences. I’ve always been very into vintage clothes. They were made different way back in the day. Things like denim tend to look better with age. There’s no replicating a pair of jeans from the ‘60s. And we like a lot of music from back in the day and look at what they’re wearing. Look at people like Alan Jackson and what he was wearing in the ‘80s and ‘90s. He really loves music. Sometimes you just want to follow that aesthetic. And yeah, I think the tequila bottles are an extension of our taste and love through the visual side.

Everyone I talk to has their own favorite Midland album or song. Can you talk a little about your creative inspiration and what your creative process looks like?

We draw mostly from music from the past. That could be anything from the ‘70s to the ‘90s or early 2000s. Gary Stewart has always been a huge influence on me. And it was interesting when I first heard Gary Stewart. I was just like, “Well, it’s country music.” And then I learned more about him, the stuff that he was into and what he was influenced by – country but also rock. And I love the Rolling Stones. It’s always kind of interesting, if you love Gary Stewart and you love the Stones, and then you read about him and find out that he loved the Stones. It all comes full circle. And we like everything from Alan Jackson and Garth Brooks, Brooks and Dunn and George Strait. All the types of country. There’s a lot of genres, too. Rock ‘n’ roll –  anything from the Stones to The Beach Boys. It’s all kind of a melting pot. And obviously vocal harmony groups like Alabama.

Since “Drinking Problem”, Midland’s style has been a focal point of fashion and influence in country music. Photo courtesy Midland / Harper Smith.

A lot of great influences. Not too long ago you had a great collab with John Pardi. Is there anyone else that’s on your wish list?

We’d love to do something with Willie. A lot of those guys from that time are kind of dream collaborations. It would just be cool to be able to do something with somebody who’s such a big influence, so iconic and important in the genre. Willie. George Strait. We got to work with Brooks and Dunn, which was a real pinch yourself in the studio type of moment. I remember sitting there playing guitar with headphones on, cutting a song live and hearing Ronnie Dunn’s voice. I mean, to be playing and he’s singing is crazy.

I’m sure fans are probably eagerly waiting for future collabs like that. A couple of weeks ago you released a new song, Up in Texas. It feels like a nice little love letter to the Great Lone Star State. Can you tell us how the song came about?

Josh Osborne brought that to us. And he had that lyric, “Outta 10 it’s 11, but even in Heaven they say Up in Texas…” It was an incredible lyric. We just kind of built the song around that. It was going to make it feel like a throwback. It has that bar room seal, like it’s always going to be fun to play. A sort of sing-along feeling. That was really a fun one to record, and of course we’re doing the Up in Texas Tour.

I’m looking forward to hearing this played live. Does that mean there’s a new album coming out soon?

Yes, we finished recording the album with Dave Cobb. That was a very special experience getting to work with him for the first time. Dave worked previously with Chris Stapleton, Miranda Lambert, Sturgill Simpson, and so many people. He’s also done soundtracks like A Star is Born and Elvis. Just a legendary producer. So that album is done; actually just received some mix updates today. You can expect that later this year.

Can’t wait to see y’all at Landlock and later on your other tour dates.

Yeah, it’s going to be a party. Come down to Landlock, it’s going to be a wild time. The best of a lot of worlds all in one place.


Cover photo courtesy Midland / Harper Smith

Martin Ramirez is a brisket-eating, Shiner-loving, road-tripping enthusiast of all things Texas. This Dallas-born writer / adventurer is ready to take his ‘78 El Camino to find the best in food, fun, and fitness throughout the Lone Star State.