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Mile 0 Fest is Worth Every Mile Getting There

Cody Canada, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Jack Ingram, Jason Boland, Jeremy Plato, Mike McClure, Pat Green, Red Dirt, Road Trips, Show Coverage, The Departed, Wade Bowen, Walt Wilkins By February 15, 2018 No Comments

We started the week bringing you Brad’s thoughts on Mile 0 Fest and we’ll end the week with mine. As usual, they’ll be some media to add pictures to words.

Let’s start by rehashing a tweet sent the moment the festival closed on Saturday night.

Almost a week removed from Mile 0, the sentiment still holds.  This thing had a lot going for it, so let’s start with the festival itself:

  • The lineup was superb, especially for a first-year festival. While there were 50+ artists that participated, only about half of those saw the big stage. The rest did gigs at a handful of bars that partnered with the festival. Not quite as copious as LJT or Steamboat, but still very ample and high quality. In fact, they probably hit a sweet spot with the number of artists. You get too many names playing in different places at the same time and you have to make difficult choices on who to see and who to skip and that can leave a bad taste in your mouth. The event scheduling was so well done that you could see pretty much catch everyone at some point. During the early afternoon, you picked from any number of shows going on Duval Street and from 3pm up until 11 you hit the main acts up at the amphitheater.
  • The venue was great, sizable but not overwhelmingly big, with room for both lawn loungers and stage swooners. Sound quality was good. It was busy but not insane and you could get around easily. While the festival had an island attitude, it didn’t run on island time as all the acts were on/off stage at their assigned times. It made planning the day a lot easier.
  • Hitches and glitches were small and mostly undetectable. The biggest issue encountered surrounding this festival was securing lodging, which took us 4 four attempts to nail down. Two of the places found were double booked thanks to some AirBnB website issues while the third place shut down because of hurricane damage. Despite having nothing to do with the festival, the folks putting on Mile 0 Fest helped us locate new accommodations, going so far as setting up a conference call with the key organizers who were familiar with the town. After some searching, we landed at The Authors’ Guesthouse, a cool little B&B in old town. Barbey, our septuagenarian host and former “Queen of The Conch Republic”, graciously peppered us with island history, stories, and most importantly…coupons for free key lime pie and cocktails at various establishments across the island.
  • As for the attendees, the demographics definitely skewed towards the 35 and up crowd; mostly established professionals looking to get away and cut loose.  Didn’t see massive quantums of vomiting or fights, no obnoxious people, just good folks loving good music. That’s the way it should be.

Now for the other half; after all, festivals are a holistic experience and without the backdrop, they’d all be the same. Imagine LJT without campfire jams or Steamboat without the mountains. Here are your Key West perks:

    • The weather. While our peeps in Dallas were dealing with 30-degree temperatures and sleet, Key West hovered in low 80’s. Factoring in the humidity, it was quite warm from mid-morning up until late afternoon before the sea breeze kicked in and quickly cooled things off. From 5 o’clock on, it was phenomenal. Scoreboard – Key West.
    • Duval street. Think Bourbon Street without seeing and smelling trash and vomit. It’s lined with bars, restaurants, and eateries of all types. For every garden variety crap T-shirt and souvenir shop, there was nicer boutique shops and funky art galleries.
    • The rest of the island. Key West is more than a one-trick pony. Lot’s of historical sites, museums, beaches, dining, and every type of water sport – fishing, diving,  jet skiing, boating, you name it. My wife and I tacked on an extra day to squeeze in some snorkeling and sunset sailing in the 76-degree turquoise waters.

  • Wild chickens are everywhere and a car is more trouble than it’s worth. You can bike anywhere on the island in 10 minutes or if you aren’t into that, spend $10 on an Uber and get there in about the same amount of time. Walking is more than doable and the people watching sport can be fully enjoyed here. On the first day of the festival, I saw a guy get kicked out of a bar before 1 pm. That’s impressive.
  • The attitude. Packing for Key West is easy – shorts, your best beach bum shirt, and comfortable walking shoes/flip-flops. Nobody cares what you wear or don’t wear and if you’re into the clothing optional thing, Key West can accommodate you.

Mile 0 Music Highlights

We started Mile 0 by catching a Cody Canada and Mike McClure acoustic gig at the San Carlos Theater on Duval. Chip and Ray’s on-stage chemistry was fully engaged, swapping stories and jokes in between songs. Cody’s sons, Dierks and Willie, each did a number and we even heard “Carney Man” which Cody had once vowed to never play again. Overall, both seem to be in good places in life with McClure’s The Great Divide getting back together and Canada finally at peace with what went down with Cross Canadian Ragweed. I got to talk at length with both of them and we’ll post those chats in the coming weeks.

The main stage lineups definitely ramped up as the week progressed. Jason Eady, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Stoney LaRue and Wade Bowen all did their parts to kick it off on Wednesday in good form. Wade played most of his popular stuff while mixing a few of the new songs off his new record  “Solid Ground”, which happened to drop during the festival. It was a huge week for Bowen.

Thursday’s lunchtime trifecta of Jamie Lin Wilson, Tina and Walt Wilkins doing an acoustic gig at the Smokin’ Tuna was a songwriter’s dream. The legendary husband-wife duo next to an artist at the top of her game in Jamie Lin. It was church on Thursday. Kylie Rae Harris, Kaitlin Butts, and Jason Eady all looked on, mostly in wonder but with a dash of terror mixed in for KRH who had to follow up that act with her own set.

Speaking of Jamie Lin Wilson, she’s without a doubt the biggest female act in our scene right now and you could easily argue to extend that title to most popular singer-songwriter overall. I’ll again reference a tweet made during the festival that pretty much sums up her week.

Her “Jamie Lin Jamboree” shows that occurred at the local Duval establishments were big hits, with various artists jumping on stage to jam. She even made some new fans who mistakenly thought her last name was “Jamboree”.

Thursday upped the intensity as Kevin Russell and the rest of the Shinyribs clan brought their swamp rock grooves to the big stage. Watching a Shinyribs show is like trying to catch a knuckleball, you have to stay on your toes because you have no idea where it’s going. This particular adventure ended with a Russell led conga line which included a giant inflatable duck and one William Clark Green.

Following up we got one of the biggest treats of the festival, the “Unleashed” show featuring Jack Ingram, Charlie Robison, and Bruce Robison. All icons in their own right, it’s hard to imagine how the greatness of their set snuck up on me the way it did. It was fantastic to watch these “old dogs” elevate the night and energize the crowd with their classic tunes.

Thursday ended with Pat Green, our gateway drug into this scene. He played all the hits while channeling his best Kevin Russell, lots of twirling and hand gestures. People ate it up, including some of the younger artists who idolized Pat growing up and were out in the crowd losing it like everyone else. William Clark Green got so excited he derailed Pat’s set by running onstage too early to sing “Wrapped” which he’s covered on the upcoming Pat Green tribute album.

For me, the coolest part of Pat’s show was when he played Galleywinter, our namesake. It was the first time I had heard the song since joining the Galleywinter team just over a year ago and I got goosebumps.  This site has been rolling for almost 20 years and although my stint here as a writer covers a fraction of that, I felt proud to be a part of something that’s been a staple in this scene for so long.

Friday’s line up was monster, starting with Dalton Domino who happily embraced the island spirit.

Mike and The Moonpies continued to awaken people to their old school honky-tonk jams. We’ve been on The Moonpie train and think “Steak Night at the Prairie Rose” will likely make our Best of 2018 list in a year that’s gonna be packed with great new records. For those in the crowd who hadn’t heard of them, whipping out some Rusty Wier made them quick friends.

The Departed followed, then Jason Boland and The Stragglers. Both announced their new records coming out this year and I’m sure we’ll be covering them.

The penultimate act of the night was the Old 97’s. A little bit country and a lot of rock ‘n’ roll, these guys can still bring it after 25 years.

Finally, there was Turnpike. What’s there to say about Turnpike that hasn’t been already said? They are bad ass and consummate professionals. Ryan Engleman’s son crashed the stage and gave everyone a chuckle.

Saturday closed out strong. It was my first and likely only time I’ll see Uncle Lucius since the band is soon calling it quits. The Great Divide’s new stuff is rock solid, in particular, “Spacebrain” and John Moreland’s take on “You Wreck Me”  was one of many kickass homages to Tom Petty.

Shooter Jennings brought a different vibe compared to everyone else, it was like a bunch of bikers temporarily invaded the crowd and it got visibly rowdier. Nothing scary but definitely rougher.

It all ended with Cody Jinks and the more I hear him the bigger fan I become. Again, a Twitter thought to summarize:

Jinks’ final song to wrap it up: “Hippies and Cowboys” which seemed fitting for a hippie town that was invaded by a bunch of Texans and Okies.

Quick Riffs:

  • By the time this hits the web, you’ll know Jamie Lin Wilson flew straight out of Key West and into the studio to record her next record. She didn’t need a plane, she just strapped on her cape.
  • The Great Divide is officially back together and slated to put out a new record this spring. Again, keep your eyes peeled for that McClure interview.
  • Many of the artists went full Cory Morrow and played the big stage barefoot. It ended up costing Pat Green, who probably broke his toe when he stubbed it on a piece of stage equipment. He fought through it with beer and eventually limped off stage.
  • PG has traded songwriting for painting and sculpting. He told us all about his new art venture, Galleywinter Galleries. Set to open soon in Fort Worth, it’ll feature all of his work plus work from other local artists.
  • Many lamented that Brandon Jenkins, who is about to undergo major surgery to replace a genetically defective heart valve, had to back out of Mile 0. It was cool to see the artists rally around their brother.
  • There were several items auctioned to raise money for charities like The Red Dirt Relief Fund. People dropping 5-6K on signed guitars isn’t something you are going to get from a broke college crowd.
  • Ran into Stoney one morning biking along Higgs Beach. Unlike his stage appearance, he was in full uniform this time – jeans, bandana and tight shirt so you could spot him a half mile away.
  • I’ll second Brad’s comment on Frita’s Cuban burgers, you need to check out that hole in the wall when you are in KW.
  • We tried as many key lime pies as we could. Kermit’s was the worst, the best was a toss up between Blue Heaven’s meringue monster and Matthesen’s.
  • Our secret to getting into Blue Heaven without a dinner wait… get there at 5:30pm
  • My cholesterol went up 50 points just listening to hostess Elizabeth Cook’s intoxicated southern drawl. It was like eating a stick of butter and chasing it with a mess of biscuits.
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Good Premonitions

Cody Canada, Dan Johnson, DocFell, Flatland Cavalry, Jeremy Plato, Johnny Chops, Randy Rogers Band, Red Dirt, Red Shahan, The Departed, The Texas Music Scene, Wade Bowen By January 22, 2018 No Comments

January’s kick off to 2018 is about over and music-wise, I’m pumped about what’s in store for the year. My personal trifecta of favorites – the Randy Rogers Band, Cody Canada and The Departed, and Wade Bowen are all putting out records this year. Past those heavy hitters, we have many a big name giving us new music in 2018. The spring in particular looks to be chock-full of great stuff to keep our ears busy. So here’s a rundown:

  • Of the aforementioned, Wade Bowen’s Solid Ground drops first (February 9th) and based on the tracks out there thus far, looks to be an homage to Texas life in both subject and sound.
  • The last word at Christmas was The Departed’s new offering is a slated for spring. In 2017 the band pared down to a three-piece outfit of Cody Canada, long time partner-in-crime Jeremy Plato (bass) and Eric Hansen (drums). I have no idea what Cody and company have in store, but I’m hoping we get a sneak peek at Mile 0 Fest.
  • The back-fence talk on the Dave Cobb produced RRB record is that it’s thick in Tom Petty influence. I know the guys in the band are pumped and let’s hope we see a single or two in the summer months. Expect the record to arrive in the fall.
  • If you were at Steamboat you got to hear William Clark Green’s new Hebert Island in its entirety, the rest will see it this spring.
  • Red Shahan finished Culberson County months ago and he we heard some of those new tunes back in July at River Jam. Can’t wait to see if Shahan follows up strong to Men and Coyotes, which as good of an initial offering as we’ve seen around here in recent years. This also hits everyone’s ears in the spring.
  • Mike and the Moon Pies Steak Night at the Prairie Rose will be a big winner this year. I can’t think of anybody who has mastered the steel heavy honky-tonk sound better than this Austin based group. The Adam Odor produced record is nostalgic and genuine, complete with boot burners, beer criers, waltzes and swing that might cause Jerry Reed and Don Williams to pay us a visit from the grave. You’ll be able to get your hands on it February 2nd.
  • Cody Jinks’ new record is out “very soon” and all we know is the cryptic title: _ _ _ _ R _
  • Johnny Chops and The Razors’ has a self-titled album arriving at the end of March. It’s the Chops’ brand of rockin’ blues he introduced us to with 2013’s Stick and Stones, but with a heavy nod to his Delta Blues influences.  We’ve got an extensive interview with Chops in the bag so you’ll be hearing all about this one in the coming weeks.
  • Dan Johnson – Hemingway. The writing and ambiance of Dan Johnson’s new project could propel him to the next level in this scene. It’s indeed a project, with a full narrative that envelopes the music. There are Quentin Tarantino-esqe scenes to the Hemingway story, giving us characters who have to make some soul-selling decisions that have lifelong repercussions on them and their loved ones. Check it out in early April.
  • American Aquarium – Things Change: BJ Barham has retooled his band after it disbanded in April last year and apparently we are going to see lots of harmonies on this new record which is slated for late spring.

Rounding out the release rumor mill, scene darlings Flatland Cavalry, 2017 phenom Koe Wetzel, and Cody Johnson all have new stuff expected to see light in 2018.

So there you go, keep in mind the list isn’t exhaustive and we’ll likely hear about many more as the year progresses. 2018 is looking good!

Quick Riffs:

    • Dierks Canada looks to have had a pretty good 2017. The oldest son of Cody and Shannon Canada continues to hone his chops on the axe and capped off 2017 playing with Ray Wylie Hubbard on the Gruene Hall stage in front of a packed house. Gruene Hall at age 12? Not bad kid.
    • I all but checked out of the NFL once the Cowboys got eliminated and I got my butt handed to me in my fantasy football playoffs. The “Minneapolis Miracle” was something to see even though I didn’t catch the replay until later in the evening after Twitter blew up. I have a love/hate relationship with SuperBowl Sunday. Love the game, the parties, and the commercials but it’s the final nail in the coffin of the holiday season. It’s the low point in the sports calendar and next to the frying heat of August, probably my least favorite time of year. To steal from Junior Miller’s Top 5/Bottom 5 – February sits behind August and July as my least favorite months. The good news is that this year I’m going to Key Westand soon after, pitchers and catcher report for spring training.
    • Speaking of Key West, Mile 0 Fest is just a couple of weeks away and I’m looking forward some beach time R&R and a ton of great music. If the OhWook! Productions team do a good job of pulling this thing off I’m thinking Steamboat could take a hit. I’m not predicting its demise, but if I’m an artist would I rather be breaking my fingers off in subzero weather or nursing margaritas on a 75-degree beach? Same goes for the festival goers. These trips aren’t cheap and if I had to budget for one festival, the argument of comfortably watching my favorite artist on a Duval street pub crawl versus freezing my junk off in a crowded tent (or worse, breaking my collarbone on a mountain) is pretty compelling.
    • In October I got to sit in on some sessions with Tahlequah based red dirt outfit, DocFell & Co. who were working on their latest album Heaven, Hell, or Oklahoma. I’ve finally heard some early mixes and it’s cool to hear Dave Percefull work his magic at the production helm. These guys haven’t bled into Texas quite yet but they may make a push with this one in 2018.
    • For Christmas, my awesome brother bought us tickets to see The Eagles and Chris Stapleton in Dallas this June. That’s a bucket list worthy show for sure.

 

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