Following are 10 of the best things witnessed during Mile 0 Fest 2020
Mile 0 Fest 2020 wrapped up last week after four-plus days in Key West, Florida and this year’s version was bigger and better than ever. Beginning with a stacked lineup of headliners – Jason Isbell, Whiskey Myers, Robert Earl Keen and Randy Rogers Band – even a monsoon couldn’t slow down the momentum built for this third annual festival. The Oh Wook! Productions crew has spared no expense as this event is quickly turning into a homecoming for attendees and an epic vacation for everyone who settles onto the island for good times, awesome music and an experience unmatched anywhere else. Beginning with the disclaimer that it would take an army to witness it all, in no particular order, here are the 10 best things experienced at a third consecutive Mile 0 Fest.
Mike and the Moonpies
Bursting onto the scene in 2018 fresh off the release of ‘Steak Night at the Prairie Rose‘, Mike and the Moonpies continued their momentum this year spreading ‘Cheap Silver and Solid Country Gold’ (a surprise release from last August). From the kickoff party at Durty Harry’s following the Duval Street Party, until their epic set at the Truman Waterfront Amphitheater, the Moonpies fan base continues to grow.
Bassist Omar Oyoque was everywhere, completing three successful stage dives, crowd surfing and thoroughly enjoying his time during the week. Initially leaving the stage briefly during Honky Tonk Tuesday, Oyoque also splashed down in the pool at Dante’s during the Mile 0 Fest and Outlaw Country Cruise combined event midweek. Finally, a later set for Mike and the Moonpies this year at the amphitheater was well received by the capacity crowd on hand.
Honky Tonk Tuesday
Durty Harry’s began to fill up hours in advance of Jamie Lin Wilson taking the stage for what may have been the best show all week. After an energetic set from Wilson, it was Mike and the Moonpies time to shine. Both bands turned in quality performances but the jam session that ensued, including guest appearances from Courtney Patton, Jason Eady and Wade Bowen provided the perfect kick off to festival while giving patrons a glimpse of what to expect over the next four days.
In the end, Mike Harmeier gave a repeat performance of his shirtless, jean jacket wearing, bar hopping experience from night one a year ago. For those who were on hand to witness the sheer fun everyone was having on stage, in the crowd or simply watching Bowen tend bar, it was a moment they won’t soon forget.
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
Jason Isbell was a surprising but welcome addition to the Mile 0 Fest lineup, making his debut appearance Wednesday night on the amphitheater stage. Immediately, he and the 400 Unit band captivated attendees rounding out arguably one of the best ever lineups for a single night at the event. Oklahoma’s Tequila Songbirds were followed by Flatland Cavalry, Shane Smith and the Saints and American Aquarium before Isbell brought the house down.
One of the unique things about festivals is the ability to gather so many talented individuals who spend their time crisscrossing the country to entertain fans into one space in a singular moment. When Isbell took the stage, everyone was a fan – other artists on the bill spilled into the crowd, in addition to packing out a side stage area for viewing. An epic close to the festival’s first full day.
Uncle Bekah’s Inappropriate Trucker Hats
No matter where you were in Key West, one didn’t have to look far to find an inappropriate trucker hat created by Uncle Bekah. Exploding in popularity since the first year, her creations have gone viral in the Texas/Red Dirt scene.
Hats are available in a range of colors and although there’s already an option for seemingly every occasion, one can be created in seconds if you think of something new. In fact, many of the performing artists and their bands got in on the fun this year, sporting different sayings while on stage or simply roaming the streets.
The Tulsa Revue
Lingering from Friday night, rain greeted attendees on Saturday but it couldn’t slow down the fun. In fact, at the Southernmost Beach Stage where John Fullbright was slated to perform, it actually created a unique and even more memorable experience. Moving inside the beach cafe, Fullbright was joined by fellow Okies Jacob Tovar, Paul Benjaman, Paul Wilkes (bass) and Paddy Ryan (drums), forming a rendition of the Tulsa Revue.
The final performance for this particular space, Fullbright and his crew not only received chants for an encore after initially shutting things down (which they obliged), but also received two well deserved standing ovations from the full house on hand.
Always looking for ways to improve, the Mile 0 Fest production team added in some new additions this year that continue raising the bar. Not only were there a few impressive first-timers on the bill – Isbell, Keen, Hayes Carll, Will Hoge, Senora May, Lucas Jagneaux, Brent Cobb, Cliff Cody, Jack Waters and the Unemployed, John Baumann and Jonny Burke to name a few, but venue additions and other new details were all top-notch.
Two, in particular, included a ‘Golden Ticket‘ awarded to fans which offered unique meet and greet opportunities with certain artists. Distributed by festival workers to individuals for a variety of different reasons – good gestures, passionate singing, quality dancing, funny clothing, etc. it was just one more way Mile 0 Fest goes above and beyond for their attendees.
The other was a joint effort between organizers of the festival and Cruisin’ Tikis Key West. Providing fans with two-hour tours on the water surrounding Key West and Sunset Pier, specifically, fans were able to enjoy certain sets from a floating bar creating both a unique atmosphere and seemingly once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Topo Chico Cowboys
A few weeks ahead of the festival, Josh Grider and Drew Kennedy released two songs – ‘Dollar on the Wall‘ and ‘Here’s to Friends‘ – that have strong ties to Key West and the latter very well could have served as the anthem for this year’s event.
Naming themselves the Topo Chico Cowboys, their set was great and spotting new merch (that hasn’t been available long) all around Key West was great to see. Playing on a boat, in a bar and everywhere between, seeing these two share their love of music with engaging fans was fun to watch.
Returning after their initial festival appearance last year, American Aquarium brought the same energy to two different full band shows during Mile 0 Fest, earning new fans and entertaining old ones along the way. Both lead singers B.J. Barham and Jason Isbell mentioned one another during back-to-back sets at the amphitheater, sharing briefly about their time together as the latter produced ‘Burn. Flicker. Die.‘ helping to catapult the continued rise of American Aquarium.
In addition to a powerful set on night one, the boys returned for a Thursday matinee performance on a beach at the Southernmost Beach Resort and it was equally as entertaining. The setting alone provides for a quality experience and getting to enjoy a full band show – another new addition (full bands at this venue) – while on the beach was great.
In similar fashion, Reckless Kelly made their debut one year ago and was equally as impressive. Former Turnpike Troubadours lead-guitar Ryan Engleman joined the Braun Brothers (Willy and Cody), Joe Miller and Jay Nazz this year following David Abeyta announcing his retirement just after this event last February.
The band made their first 2020 festival appearance with a late night show on Thursday evening at Smokin’ Tuna. Greeted by a large crowd, lead singer Willy Braun broke into ‘The Pina Colada Song‘ until served on stage in an epic move fitting of the environment. Debuting a few new songs off their upcoming double-album release, both sets were high-energy and well received.
Jamie Lin Wilson and Courtney Patton went all in to make Friday night’s 80’s Ladies event one to remember. From wearing wigs reminiscent of popular hairstyles during the era, tossing out shoulder pads from their throwback attire and orchestrating a stacked lineup of performers, this was truly one of best shows all week and something that is only attainable in such a festival environment.
Backed by a stout, although makeshift, band featuring Cody Angel, Scott Davis and Willy Braun – numerous different artists took the stage to perform hits from women of country music during this decade. In a time where both fans and artists are hyper-aware of gender discrepancies associated within the music world and beyond – seeing everyone come together for an entertaining evening was truly a magical experience.
Overall, Mile 0 Fest 2020 raised the bar on an already amazing festival full of high quality music from extremely talented musicians, friendly people, and opportunities to create lifelong memories in paradise.
A few other shows and artists that made an impression during the week:
Jason Boland 20th Anniversary of Pearl Snaps, Cory Morrow, Kylie Rae Harris Tribute Hosted by Walt and Tina Wilkins, RC Edwards, Amber Watson, Jonny Burke, Chance Anderson Oklahoma Rock n’ Roll, Senora May, Charley Crockett, Shane Smith and the Saints, Lucas Jagneaux, Tanner Miller, Cody Canada w/ members of Waves, Whiskey Myers, William Clark Green, Cliff Cody and Kelley Mickwee