Midnight River Choir – The Shake Interview

Midnight River Choir can put on a show. The Texas Groove artists have been riding high on the release of Fresh Air, their second full length album last year. Front man Eric Middleton sat with us to discuss their origins and who coined the term “Texas Groove”. “It was a fan on Twitter,”he says, engulfed in the green room couch of Whiskey Girl Saloon. “She posted a picture of us that said ‘Texas Country?#texasgroove’. We loved it and went with it.”

“In 2008, Kent Finlay invited us to be apart of a battle of the bands. We won that and our prize was every Tuesday at Cheatham Street. That’s when we had just started the band, doing backyard gigs and BBQ joints on Mondays,” he laughs. “We did 165 Tuesdays. How we got to where we are now is by using the same mindset as Cheatham Street wherever we go. No matter where we’re at, no matter how many people are there we bring it and we play it well. That’s given us the ability to stretch out of the state.”

“When we first started we did mainly covers of others in the scene. Just like most everyone does. When we started writing all together, that’s when a sound began to evolve. It brought in my background of Grateful Dead and The Band and The Allman Brothers. Jam band, rock and roll stuff. Mitchell, our drummer, being part of the Pyeatt family and his history. He was born with it. And Bob. Bob’s into some weird stuff. A lot of Primus and all kinds of crazy, crazy things. Justin had the blues/country influence. We tried to incorporate all of it when we write. That’s where Texas Groove came from.”

Sadly, Kent Finlay, a patron of the Texas songwriting community passed earlier this year after a long battle with cancer. How has his passing affected Eric and the rest of the band? “When we first started playing, I would go see (Kent) afterward to see what he had to say about it. He always said ‘Son, don’t stop.’ Its stuck with me. It hurt really bad for awhile after he passed. It’s really opened the eyes of people in the San Marcos area of what Cheatham Street has always been. They’ve always had their songwriter night. Now you go in on a Monday night and there are people in the parking lot writing on their tailgates. People writing on the patio. You go inside and six or seven groups of people all over the place just writing. It’s made that place what it should always have been. Sacred. Like a temple.” DD