Prior to last night's horrific mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, all the country music world could talk about was the age old debate about whether one's background had an impact on the 'authenticity' of the music created by a band or artist. Basically, according to some places, if a band said they did things that couldn't be easily verified, like say tour small dives and honky tonks in Texas prior to breaking out nationally with a big hit ("Drinkin' Problem,") then said band (Midland) couldn't possibly be authentic, especially if two members were part of "Hollywood elite."
The band wasn't ever hiding who they were or the fact that their path to success was quicker than it is for many. They didn't toil around the honky tonk circuit of Texas or Oklahoma for decades (like Granger Smith) before breaking out. No, the band had the audacity to have other careers which were varying degrees of success on and off (an actor/model and film director are amongst the band's members). The Band's wardrobe choices -- Graham Parsons chic as seen in the photo above -- certainly didn't help the "authenticity" narrative as it forced some people to claim the band as "playing a part" for a big, bad record label like Big Machine Records (a fact which seemingly is as bad as any other authenticity narrative) or songwriters who are mis-quoted as to being some sort of mad scientists or something.
But here's the rub with all of this nonsense, and it is nonsense, is that the band, as stated above, wasn't hiding their background. They didn't hide the fact that they lived in an affluent area of Texas (Dripping Springs) or that they came together from various places to make a band and scored quite a few lucky breaks (and were already photogenic). That they wrote well and made music that most country music songwriters and producers loved? Oh, that wasn't faked. In fact, it made everything easier for the band to break out but releasing a traditional-leaning (or at least Strait-like) single like "Drinkin' Problem" in 2017 without drum loops and other modern production touches? Well, that was clearly a risk but a risk that worked.
Quite simply, Midland was in the right place at the right time with the right music. It's ok to not like them, their style or their music. But to question that they're coming from some sort of unholy place, some sort of manufactured place is disingenuous. And for most of these accusations to be coming from a place which claims to want to champion the exact kind of music the band makes? Well, that screams of a sort of cynicism that can only be described as an "anything from Nashville is fake" like that never should be crossed. Midland, and all bands making music, do so because it's what they do. Midland has made one of the most retro-cool (yet mainstream) projects in all of country music in 2017 and they may be on the forefront of a trend towards traditional or at least 90s traditional sounds. But I guess, if there's a way to spin them as bullshit artists, one must do so to get clicks to their blog in this day and age of hawt takes instead of just enjoying the music.
Question: Does where a band comes from matter to you when you listen to country music? Does any of that impact whether you'll like the music or not? Does some sort of "authenticity" matter when listening?