Country Band MIDLAND Revives the Beloved and Legendary Palomino Club in North Hollywood

Country band MIDLAND revives the beloved and legendary Palomino Club in North Hollywood for a night of honkytonk revelry as they showcased their now well-known selection of drinking songs, cheating songs and seduction songs, which is also how they divided their set.

Celebrating their sophomore release “Let It Roll” which they featured on the “Ellen Degeneres Show” with their song “Mr. Lonely,” MIDLAND’s appearance was a few hours prior to The Palomino Club gig and it appears to have made Degeneres a Country music convert.

The album hit the Billboard Top Country Music Chart at #1, which they began touring in support of in June 2019. This is MIDLAND’s second album on Big Machine Records. “Mr. Lonely” reminds me of early Beatles music.

Pulling this memorable show together was Valley Relics Museum (VRM) director and founder Tommy Gelinas.

In fact, we dare say that had it not been for Gelinas, the show would probably would not of had the same sentimentality as it did, with the expertise of Gelinas and his team of volunteers that Gelinas tells us give 100 percent of their all to pull a show like this together. The VRM owns the neon Palomino sign as well as other artifacts from the fabled watering hole of locals as well as out-of towners. Also featured at MIDLAND’s gig was the cowboyed up station wagon that Nudie Cohn owned.

According to Gelinas, they only had around three weeks to pull the show together once the green light was given by the Encino-based Academy of Country Music to proceed with the project that had originated with MIDLAND’s record label Big Machine Records in Nashville, Tennessee. Luckily for Gelinas, the VRM’s vice president Oscar Urrutia has an entertainment company that pulls shows and such together professionally so he was able to network that into what needed to be done.

Dubbed the “21st Century Honkytonk All Night Band,” MIDLAND took inspiration from Dwight Yoakam’s song “Fair To Midland” when naming their good time music band.

In fact, many fans of MIDLAND give them credit for restoring their faith and interest in Country music.

While looking around at the crowd that packed the Palomino Club, it was hard to tell if the crowd was that wild about MIDLAND, thrilled to be reliving the glory days of the Palomino Club or both. Either way, the crowd, that had been exceeded by more than 100 according to a door person, were having a grand ol’ time and were eagerly saddling up to the free Dos Equis Beer and Tito’s Handmade Vodka…including myself and fellow reporter Debbie Speer from Pollstar that also sponsored this amazing event. Among the merch for sale at the show was a set of four pins that contained a pin that was a lightning bolt that brought back memories of Elvis Presely’s TCB lighting bolt. There was also a cactus with their name on it which was gifted to Speer.

For MIDLAND, this event was like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and if the walls could talk they would more than likely camp out there.

As it stands, Gelinas has opened the door for MIDLAND to come to the VRM, located in a warehouse in Lake Balboa (formerly Van Nuys), to film a video and let the guys drive Nudie’s renowned cowboy, tricked-out vehicles.

MIDLAND, established in Dripping Springs, Texas, is nominated for the CMA’s Best New Artist award this November and has garnered an award from the ACM and is a double Grammy nominee.

MIDLAND consists of Mark Wystrack, lead vocals and guitar; Cameron Duddy, bass and vocals; Jess Carson, lead guitar and background vocals. “Let It Roll” is their first #1 on the Billboard’s Top Country Music Chart.

For Gelinas, it seems that all roads lead back to the Valley where he happily grew up and, according to Gelinas, MIDLAND’s bass player, Cameron Duddy, is a Valley boy hailing from the berg Northridge. The band may have been formed in Texas, but Duddy’s heart is here in the good ol’ San Fernando Valley.

As for the possibility of another such pop-up event occurring, it is a very real consideration according to Gelinas. “Most people think that all we have to do is call to rent it out and it can be done anytime. It’s just not like that,” Gelinas said. “They are always booked way in advance and things need to be planned out in advance to accommodate that,” he added.

Gelinas is looking to the sSpring as a possibility for another pop-up night with comedy or rock or whatever he and his crack team decide, Gelinas enthused.

The building that housed the Palomino Club from 1949 to 1995 is now a banquet hall which also has activities there for senior citizens such as bingo and is always busy with something. The neighborhood “isn’t very pretty and it’s not like driving to Studio City or Sherman Oaks,” Gelinas cautions, but it’s the best place for music activities since it is an industrial neighborhood.

The Palomino has had their world-famous stage graced by the likes of Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Dwight Yoakam, Lyle Lovett, Emmylou Harris to more contemporary artists such as The Flying Burrito Brothers/Gram Parsons, Neil Young and Elvis Costello and there have been CowPunk artists such as Rosie Flores, who will soon be appearing at the old Palomino building for a James Intveld birthday party sans the the VRM’s artifacts, to the Long Ryders and Green Day. One night George Harrison, John Fogerty and Bob Dylan hopped onto the stage to join Jesse Ed Davis and Taj Mahal for an improvised set of their hits. Even Cajun Doug Kershaw played there in 1968 offering up his brand of Cajun Folk meets Zydeco with his electric fiddle and burned up the stage with “Louisiana Man” and “Diggy Diggy Lo.”

Also playing there toward the end of its run were Quiet Riot featuring Randy Rhoads. And one of my favorite local bands, Lost Pilots, have played a few gigs there, including their last show. While I was running the local club “The Cave” I also lent some bands to play there.

The VRM held a fundraiser there at the building and resurrected the Palomino Club with the carefully curated items from the VRM. Dubbed “The Palomino Rides Again,” the nostalgic event netted them $40,000 which went toward expenses and paying rent. These successful events have led Gelinas to believe that pop-up events that not only feature The Palomino, but also FM Station or Mancinis are a definite possibility as well as a comedy night.

From what Gelinas tells the LA Music Scene, ACM is into sponsoring another Palomino event which is music to any Palomino Club fan’s ears.

It’s difficult to walk around NoHo and not run into someone that hasn’t had an explosively good time there and many remember Gram Parson’s hanging out there a lot and talking music. Others remember eating there while still others remember the regular fist fights that this local watering hole would play host to and gave it its reputation as a rather tough beer bar.

In fact, Thomas McElroy was my brother in-law and his twin, Jerry, was my husband and regularly went a few rounds with patrons. Thomas was a bartending fixture there.

These are the memories and energy that MIDLAND wanted to tap into and soak up the legend that is the Palomino Club. For that one night in October the Palomino truly did ride again just for MIDLAND.