Today's Paper News Sports Features Business Opinion LEARNS Guide Newsletters Obits Games Archive Notices Core Values

Arkansas country band Midnight South debuts “Girl From Mississippi (Acoustic)” single on new label

by Sean Clancy | May 31, 2023 at 10:30 a.m.
Arkansas country band Midnight South: Sam Williams (from left), Jeremy Castaldo, Matt Sammons, JL Jones, Darin Davis.(Special to the Democrat-Gazette/Sarah Caldwell)

Central Arkansas country band Midnight South has only been around about 18 months, but the five-piece has made plenty of progress in that time.

The group — singer-guitarist Matt Sammons, guitarist Sam Williams, multi-instrumentalist J.L. Jones, bassist Jeremy Castaldo and drummer Darin Davis — is nominated in the Entertainer of the Year and Vocal Duo/Group categories at the Arkansas Country Music Awards on June 5, and they’ve recently signed to Nashville, Tenn.-based Rock Ridge Music.

“Girl From Mississippi (Acoustic),” the band’s first single for the label, drops Friday, but you can hear it here now at

Castaldo, who co-wrote the upbeat, nostalgia-tinged track with Sammons, says it was inspired by a childhood crush he had while growing up in Grove, Okla. For about three summers, the girl of the title would come from Mississippi to visit her mother in Grove, and she and Castaldo would hang out. Over the fall and winter they’d write letters to each other, but when he was about 12 the letters stopped and he never saw her again. The song, he says, is about what could have been.

The band released the track in 2022 as a single, but the new version, produced by Aaron Gillespie, has been stripped down a bit.

“I’ve never gotten to do something like that,” Castaldo says of having the chance to revisit the song. “Once you release a song, you kind of wash your hands of it. I clear it out of my mind because my creativity goes elsewhere, but to get back into that frame of mind and put a different twist on it was a lot of fun.”

The band plans to release an acoustic version of another early single, “Better Than a Country Song,” later this summer, Castaldo says. An album with Gillespie is also in the works and should be out next spring.

When Midnight South first got together the creative chemistry was evident, Castaldo says.

“We hooked up and started writing and playing and quickly realized that there was something special there … I’ve been in bands in the past, but this just has all the right pieces, all the right people.”

Their first show was in February 2022 at King’s Live Music in Conway.

“It’s blown up since then,” Castaldo says. The band has been touring steadily and has opened for Randy Houser, the Josh Abbott Band, Chris Cagle, Texas Hill and more.

In a news release, Cynthia Cochrane, president and creative director of Rock Ridge Music, said: “We’re proud to welcome Midnight South to the Rock Ridge Music family. It’s surprisingly rare to find a band that not only has talent but also a clear, united vision and strong work ethic; it was an immediate ‘yes’ to signing them after our first meeting.”

“I’m just thankful,” Castaldo says. “Here we are, signed with Rock Ridge, nominated for two Arkansas Country Music Awards. I sat down with my wife last night and said that this is just insane. It’s so cool.”


Sponsor Content