Wallowa County resident releases new album


Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 2.28.13 PM ENTERPRISE – The old adage of art imitating life could be the theme of Mike Midlo’s latest album, “Two Steps and Waltzes.”

It’s been five years since Midlo released an album, shortly before migrating to Wallowa County in 2013 with his wife, Kristy Athens. He said his idea of a follow up record changed radically from his initial intent.

“When I moved here I was thinking I was going to make a super dancey, prancey rock record, but the songs that came out are just a reflection of living here,” Midlo said.

The 14-song album was recorded in 15 hours at the OK Theatre in Enterprise, produced by Bart Budwig who has made several albums in the historic space.

“Bart knows the room, he knows what he’s doing and has great bedside manner that helps artists get the most from their performances,” Midlo said.Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 2.28.19 PM

Most of the record is a mix of Tex Ritter and Herb Albert, Midlo said, a country album to play late at night for dancing, driving back roads or washing dishes.

“I felt like these fit into a narrative that felt right for a guitar, trumpet and voice.”

A musician and songwriter most of his life, Midlo says he writes all the time. Eventually he had to stop and sort through his collection to choose the right ones for the album – songs called “Branding Day” and “Water Lines” are literal reflections of the farmland where he lives outside of Enterprise.

“Lostine” is an instrumental tribute to the mid-Wallowa Valley town and “My Rifle, My Pony and Me,” the only cover on the album, was inspired by a trip to the Imnaha Tavern where Midlo said he watched Dean Martin sing the cowboy classic in the movie “Rio Bravo” on the bar’s television. The song fits well amongst his original American music.

Woody Guthrie oozes through the pores of “Pacific Wonderland,”  the most rocking song on the album where Midlo teams up with the power-singing duo of Janis Carper and Carolyn Lochert.Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 2.28.34 PM

“Rockjack!” is a love song honoring the two-piece band he and Athens put together for special occasions, like playing loud in the basement and occasionally at local pubs. “Waterlines” is about a young couple who want to be farmers and get jobs changing irrigation – a song Midlo could have written from his porch.

“How Could I Complain” not only reflects the sentiment of country life, but the celebration of the Eagle Cap Mountains and the fields that roll from the toe of Ruby Peak’s slope to the Wallowa Valley.

“I’ve been singing these songs for the dogs and field mice; I don’t need to play them in front of people,” Midlo said.

But play for people he will in the coming weeks. Midlo has booked house concerts in living rooms and backyards around the Northwest and California where his collection of songs will fit well in an intimate space.

Ahead of the album’s release April 9 Midlo produced a video for its lead off song, “Timberbind.”

“The video has nothing to do with the song but it’s fun to watch,” Midlo said. “I know for 35 years videos are the things that drive people to buy records and it’s fun to tell a story with pictures.”

Of the videos he’s made, Midlo said, “I find these human beings who I think are really interesting, and I want to hang out with them.”

For the Timberbind video Midlo said he drove around the county for two months to find the perfect set and ended up shooting it at a friend’s shop in Enterprise. The video can be seen on his Facebook page, “MidLo.”

Midlo shares the songs of his latest album on streaming outlets like CD Baby, Spotify and iTunes and CD’s can be purchased at The Bookloft in Enterprise.

Midlo will play music from his new album at the OK Theatre April 29. Doors open at 6 p.m. Admission is free. He will also perform at 7 p.m. May 12  at Wallowa Valley Music Alliance’s Tunesmith at Sugar Time Bakery and 7 p.m. May 13 at Terminal Gravity.

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