Mile 0 Fest 2022: An Experience To Remember

Time is a funny thing. Less than a week removed from the fifth installment of Mile 0 Fest in Key West, Florida, it feels so far away. On the other hand, it’s also hard to believe this once dream concept has now grown into the behemoth it is today. A boutique red dirt and Americana festival at the southernmost point of the United States is a far-fetched idea on the surface, but Kyle Carter, his staff, volunteers, and locals have turned this event into one of the most impressive music festivals in the land – across all genres.

Returning to its usual late January dates after moving to April last year, Mile 0 Fest kicked off under absolutely gorgeous weather before suffering one day of Florida winter, which was still better than most attendees left in order to arrive on the island. However, fans weren’t to be deterred and they were helped by the heat bands were brining all across the island (more on that later). Overall, this year ranks among one of the best yet and, as every year does, has left both current, returning, and future attendees with a sense of excitement and anticipation for what next year has in store.

Shane Smith and the Saints

FRAMILY – FRIENDS + FAMILY

Let’s begin by stating there are no words that could possibly describe the overall experience for those in attendance. From rookies to veterans, the friendships and relationships spawned as a result of this festival is something definitely unique to this event. Many from across the country, continent, and ocean, have developed friendships and look forward to meeting up in paradise for one week a year. But the best thing may be how newcomers are just as easily welcomed into these circles as there’s space for everyone on the island. Whether you want to sleep in, be a tourist, turn in early, or party all night, there’s something for you, all while the focal point remains on each artist and their music throughout the entire week.

SPECIALTY SHOWS

Only at Mile 0 Fest can you witness the many characters of Courtney Patton in action, while also hearing the Sequestered Songwriters sing Jimmy Buffett songs on a beach. The ability of this festival to continually come up with ideas for these artists to collaborate and entertain is amazing. One of the best shows this year was hosted by the Topo Chico Cowboys, Drew Kennedy and Josh Grider, who have quickly grown into fan favorites. Their ‘All Night 90’s’ country covers kicked off with Brooks and Dunn’sBrand New Man‘ as many other artists took to the stage throughout the evening, keeping the crowd entertained late into the night. But well known artists weren’t the only one’s there to steal the show. Festival founder Kyle Carter hopped on stage at least twice, showcasing his talents that once defeated Cody Canada in a battle of the bands, singing ‘What Might Have Been‘ by Little Texas during the event and playing again at ‘The Last Bloody Brunch’ – alongside scheduled artists Jake Flint, John Goolsby, Blake Lankford, and Justin Clyde Williams in addition to a few other special guests.

All Night 90’s

Perhaps no other band embodies the spirit of Mile 0 Fest more than Mike and the Moonpies. Performing three sets during the week, they kicked off night one with what has quickly become a tradition – ‘Honky Tonk Tuesday’. It helped set the tone for the week ahead as these specialized experiences are something only a festival centered on showcasing its artists can deliver. Another Mile 0 Fest staple, Jamie Lin Wilson, hosted ‘The Sing-a-long’ Friday night leading to some fun combinations and multiple collaborations including Chloe Beth doing ‘9 to 5‘, Wilson, Kaitlin Butts, and Courtney Patton covering ‘Goodbye Earl‘ and the entire cast accompanying Bryon White for ‘The Road Goes On Forever.’

ROOKIES / FULL BAND PERFORMANCES

Every year, Mile 0 Fest compiles an astonishing lineup but the new additions this year really made a name for themselves. Rookies – Ryan Culwell, Grady Spencer and the Work, The Red Clay Strays, 49 Winchester, Justin Clyde Williams, Channing Wilson, and Zac Wilkerson each definitely left an impression with their individuals performances. Wilkerson kicked off the entire event, first to take the stage on Tuesday evening, setting the bar high and on Saturday both The Red Clay Strays and 49 Winchester brought the heat to a chilly Sunset Pier. Delayed by a wind advisory, fans were still out in full force braving the elements and this lineup didn’t disappoint. In perhaps the most talked about set of this year’s event, The Red Clay Strays immediately made it worth everyone’s wait ahead of 49 Winchester and the final Mike and the Moonpies performance of the week.

RC and the Ambers

Alongside these rookie achievements, a few past solo acts and one collaboration, presented full band performances that also raised the bar. Lucas Jagneaux and Chance Anderson have each made prior appearances, but this year both had their backing bands in tow and it literally amped up their sets. Lucas Jagneaux and the Roadshow fired up at Dante’s Pool Bar and the Southernmost Beach Cafe, where Chance and the Takers also performed after making their Coffee Butler Amphitheater debut the night before. RC and the Ambers are also veterans, but accompanied by Lance Roark and on the verge of releasing their debut album, RC Edwards and Amber Watson continued their rise drawing big crowds at both the Smokin’ Tuna and Southernmost Beach.

NEW MUSIC

The week not only featured amazing live performances, but many of the artists on hand also released new or new versions of music during the festival. Morgan Wade made her sophomore appearance at the event and really impressed during a special acoustic performance at Key West Theater before her time at the Amphitheater. The deluxe edition of her debut album, ‘Reckless‘ featured new tracks and was put out Friday.

Grady Spencer and the Work toasted fans in attendance during their festival debut over at Dante’s Pool Bar on Friday, celebrating the release of their fourth album – ‘Wait‘ – a nice blend of past and present sounds exceptionally put together around an introspective lyrical journey.

The Red Clay Strays, along with Lucas Jagneaux and the Roadshow each had singles drop while entertaining fans with their live performances. ‘Doin’ Time‘ from Alabama’s The Red Clay Strays and ‘Honky Tonk Heart‘ by Louisiana’s Jagneaux each debuted last week for everyone’s enjoyment, available on all streaming platforms, and it was fun hearing them live too.

The Red Clay Strays

Waves also dropped their debut EP of six original songs on January 28, instantly becoming renowned on the lineup more so than in years past. With two full band sets, mixing into the variety shows, and sitting down for a Texas Voices television interview, this group continues working hard laying the groundwork for what should be an impressive future career in the music industry.

NORTH CAROLINA

For the first time ever, two North Carolina artists made the official lineup and each made the absolute most of their opportunities. Raleigh’s American Aquarium, led by front-man BJ Barham, is arguably the hardest working band around with lead guitar Shane Boeker and bassist, Alden Hedges routinely backing the variety shows; in which, Barham also made a few select appearances prior to their first full set out on the beach. Playing to a packed beach and batch of shrimp boats, American Aquarium brought out some deep cuts for their initial performance much to the delight of those who have been following their rise in the industry. Setting the standard for energetic performances, the band brought both vibrance and their hits to The Amp stage on Saturday night.

American Aquarium/BJ Barham and Justin Clyde Williams

Justin Clyde Williams also impressed with a set alongside Oklahoma’s Raina Cobb at Hank’s Hair of the Dog Saloon on Thursday. Drawing a large contingent from The Old North State, it’s a safe bet Williams left the island with many new fans from all across the country. Also joining the aforementioned group for Saturday’s ‘Last Bloody Brunch’, the line down Charles St. stretching to Duval was filled with those who had been in attendance at his earlier performance and many others from North Carolina. The connection between this group, state, and the music continues to grow and seeing more artists from the area down in the keys was truly special.

HOLD MY BEER

Texas country legends Randy Rogers Band and Wade Bowen have long been staples in the scene and veterans of this festival. Bringing their ‘Hold My Beer’ collaboration, now two volumes strong to the island, for another special show, each also thoroughly impressed with their individuals performances backed by their respective bands. Bringing out hit after hit, the one-two punch of Bowen and Rogers to end Friday night at The Coffee Butler Amphitheater may have been the best all week.

EMCEE

Uncle Bekah (photo courtesy of Aaron Witt Photography)

In a shift from previous years, there was no true emcee of the festival but instead a group effort from many different artists and associated individuals who shared time in the spotlight introducing upcoming acts. Perhaps none was more impressive than Uncle Bekah, who has become synonymous with Mile 0 Fest, thanks to her ‘Inappropriate Trucker Hats’ which annually take over the island. From fans to artists – funny, clever, classic, and sometimes even impromptu sayings – find their way onto hats and they’re so prevalent, it’s unlikely you’ll see any recap footage or even a photo of the event without spotting at least a few. At any rate, Uncle Bekah’s introduction of The Great Divide was just another in a long list of memorable performances orchestrated by Mile 0 Fest throughout the entire week.

Other Top Performances (non-variety) and in no particular order:

  • Shane Smith and the Saints – Truman Waterfront Park Amphitheater
  • Stoney LaRue – Truman Waterfront Park Amphitheater
  • Adam Hood and Jason Eady – Hank’s Hair of the Dog Saloon
  • Jamie Lin Wilson – Truman Waterfront Park Amphitheater
  • Topo Chico Cowboys – Sunset Pier
  • Kaitlin Butts – Truman Waterfront Park Amphitheater
  • John Fullbright – Southernmost Beach Cafe
  • Dalton Domino – Sunset Green
  • Max and Heather Stalling – Hank’s Hair of the Dog Saloon
  • Cliff Cody – The Marker
  • Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights – Dante’s Pool Bar
  • Kylie Frey – Sunset Pier
  • Walt and Tina Wilkins – Hank’s Hair of the Dog Saloon
  • Chloe-Beth – Hank’s Hair of the Dog Saloon
The Coffee Butler Amphitheater / Truman Waterfront Park Amphitheater

Year Five of Mile 0 Fest continued to show why this event has transformed into a can’t miss week for many attendees and bucket list item for red dirt and Americana music fans everywhere. Navigating a few artists cancellations, including Ryan Bingham, and a cooler than usual Saturday, the staff and crew working this festival continually make magic happen across the island. As stated in the beginning, no amount of words can truly portray what life is like during Mile 0 Fest, but if you’d like to find out in 2023 – CLICK HERE – and a $100 deposit guarantees you a pass for next year!

American Aquarium Roadtrip to Raleigh VII: Preview

The annual pilgrimage of American Aquarium fans returns this weekend, February 3-5.

Fans of North Carolina based American Aquarium have become familiar with the annual journey to the state’s capital (Raleigh, NC) and Lincoln Theatre, orchestrated by front man B.J. Barham. Over the years, inviting talented artists from other parts of the country and those right here in our own backyard, Barham consistently pieces together a solid lineup for the ‘Roadtrip to Raleigh’, now on its seventh rendition after missing last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Initially gaining notoriety around the Carolinas with a tireless touring schedule. Barham continues working hard to connect with fans and it’s this persistence that has expanded the fan base, leading to national tours with sell outs in tow. From humble beginnings the band now regularly visits Texas, Oklahoma, and has repeatedly played festivals like Mile 0 Fest in Key West (Florida), Music Fest in Steamboat (Colorado) and many others – but none compare to seeing Barham perform on his home turf.

In years past, fans have traveled from all over the United States and even the world to experience these unique sets of consecutive American Aquarium performances. Every year the lineup has been stacked as fans enjoy and discover other artists, all while having an opportunity to take in Barham’s hometown sights often referred to in his lyrics. Once in Raleigh you can, hear “the church bells ringing down at old St. Mary’s” and experience “landlocked nights down at Slim’s” all on your own.

As always, Barham has mapped out the cities finest restaurants, coffee shops and other entertaining establishments (available here), in addition to the return of ‘Tough Folks’ craft beer.

The full 2022 lineup features, Margo Cilker and Old 97’s on Thursday, Adeem the Artist and Aaron Lee Tasjan on Friday, and John R. Miller with Zach Bryan on Saturday – all ahead of American Aquarium who close the show each night.

Margo Cilker (Thursday 2/3)

Old 97’s (Thursday 2/3)

Adeem the Artist (Friday 2/4)

Aaron Lee Tasjan (Friday 2/4)

John R. Miller (Saturday 2/5)

Zach Bryan (Saturday 2/5)

American Aquarium (Thursday 2/3, Friday 2/4, and Saturday 2/5)

Mile 0 Fest 2022: Preview and Instagram Takeover Artists

Mile 0 Fest 2022 kicks off next week…

Mile 0 Fest returns for its fifth installment, January 25 – January 29, in Key West, Florida. One of the absolute best festivals available to fans of red dirt and Americana music, Mile 0 Fest has rocketed its way into the top echelon of events with stellar lineups, unique experiences, and an amazing setting, all thanks to a relentless work ethic of those behind the scenes. This year’s edition boasts another amazing lineup with over 60 artists performing 100-plus shows in just over four days and there’s no indication things will be slowing down anytime soon.

There’s a handful of first-time artists that are definitely expected to make an impression, including 49 Winchester, Ryan Bingham, Ryan Culwell, The Red Clay Strays, Grady Spencer and the Work, Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights, Zac Wilkerson, Justin Clyde Williams, and Channing Wilson. Impactful returning performers include North Carolina’s own American Aquarium – Chance and the Takers, John Fullbright, Lucas Jagneaux and the Roadshow, Shane Smith and the Saints, RC and the Ambers, Morgan Wade, Reckless Kelly, and the Topo Chico Cowboys (Josh Grider and Drew Kennedy). In addition, the backbone of Mile 0 Fest – Mike and the Moonpies, Cody Canada, Wade Bowen, Walt Wilkins, Jason Eady, Courtney Patton, and Jamie Lin Wilson continue to impress each and every year.

This year, RedDirtNC is excited to partner with five of those performers throughout the event in order to give fans, both in attendance and elsewhere, a truly unique perspective. Make sure you’re following all of our social media (FacebookTwitterInstagram – RedDirtNC) but especially Instagram next Tuesday – Saturday (January 25 – January 29) for what promises to be some entertaining and fun content!

TUESDAY, JANUARY 25 – MIKE AND THE MOONPIES (Omar Oyoque)

Mile 0 Fest Scheduled Performances:
TUE (1/25) Truman Waterfront Park Amphitheater, 10:30pm-12:00am
THUR (1/27) Sunset Green, 3:00pm-4:00pm
SAT (1/29) Sunset Pier – The Shiner Bock Stage, 3:00pm-4:00pm

-An inaugural member of the lineup from year one, the Moonpies are one of the hottest bands in the country and will be leading the charge on day one ahead of their late-night Honky-Tonk Tuesday performance.

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 26 – CHANCE AND THE TAKERS

Mile 0 Fest Scheduled Performances:
WED (1/26) Truman Waterfront Park Amphitheater, 5:00pm-5:40pm
THUR (1/37) Southernmost Beach Cafe – The Kimes Ranch Stage, 12:20pm-1:20pm

-Another inaugural member of the lineup, Chance Anderson will have his full band in tow for the first time this year and is sure to make an impression.

THURSDAY, JANUARY 27 – JUSTIN CLYDE WILLIAMS

Mile 0 Fest Scheduled Performances:
THUR (1/27) Hank’s Hair of the Dog Saloon, 12:00pm-1:00pm
SAT (1/29) The Smokin’ Tuna Saloon – The Deep Eddy Stage, 10:00am-12:00pm

-Officially a Mile 0 Fest rookie, you may remember Williams’ from an impromptu appearance alongside Stoney Larue and Cody Canada during a beach set in year number two.

FRIDAY, JANUARY 28 – RC AND THE AMBERS

Mile 0 Fest Scheduled Performances:
THUR (1/27) The Smokin’ Tuna Saloon – The Deep Eddy Stage, 1:40pm-2:40pm
FRI (1/28) Southernmost Beach Cafe – The Kimes Ranch Stage, 1:40pm-2:40pm

-Oklahoma natives, RC Edwards and Amber Watson, front this fun band that always leave you smiling with their fun lyrics and catchy sound.

SATURDAY, JANUARY 29 – GRADY SPENCER AND THE WORK

Mile 0 Fest Scheduled Performances:
FRI (1/28) Dante’s Pool Bar – The Uncle Bekah Stage, 12:00pm-1:00pm
SAT (1/29) Truman Waterfront Park Amphitheater, 4:00pm-4:40pm

-Making their first Mile 0 Fest appearance, it’s a safe bet this group garners plenty of new fans during their time in the Keys.

If this is your first time to the festival, be sure and check out our Seven Things To Know Before You Go from years past. Including 2021 and 2020 – there’s plenty of tips, tricks, and a preview of just how much fun you’re about to have in paradise.

New Music Monday: Cody Canada and the Departed – ‘If You Want It That Much’

There’s no doubt Cody Canada has already cemented his place in what has become known as the red dirt music scene. From his early days as an integral part of Cross Canadian Ragweed, to the present with Cody Canada and the Departed, it’s the music and live performances that have always resonated with the fans. Fortunately for those same fans, Canada continues making quality music and already has other projects on the horizon.

This latest release, ‘If You Want It That Much’ is available right now however you consume new music and it truly taps into the heart and soul of what one would expect from Canada and the Departed. Written by Gary Wayne Thomason and Scott Melott, Canada, the band, and a few others bring the full sound to life while creating something fans will recognize and should immediately respond to with favorable acceptance.

In addition to this latest single, Canada also has plans in place for an upcoming re-recorded release of the Cross Canadian Ragweed album, ‘Soul Gravy’. Peaking at No. 5 on the Billboard Top Country Albums Chart, this new version will also features collaborations with country superstar Lee Ann Womack.

Canada had this to say about the future release, “I never was satisfied with the recording of ‘Soul Gravy.’  I thought the songs were all spot on and thought out lyrically. That was a busy year so we recorded fast. No amps. All pod. I didn’t like that idea and got out voted. This time I did it the way I wanted. I can finally own recordings of these songs again and have them on vinyl.”

*credits* – Cody Canada – Lead Guitar, Vocals, Acoustic Guitar Pool – Jeremy Plato – Bass, Vocals, Acoustic Guitar Pool – Eric Hansen – Drums – Ryan Snipes – Baritone Guitar, Acoustic Guitar Pool – Lucas Taylor – Acoustic Guitar Pool – Mason Morris – Acoustic Guitar Pool

Again, be sure to check out ‘If You Want It That Much’ (available now) while keeping an eye out for the upcoming re-recorded release of ‘Soul Gravy’.

Mile 0 Fest Announces Initial 2022 Lineup

The fifth Mile 0 Fest (initial) lineup is out and January can’t get here fast enough.

Five years ago Mile 0 Fest arrived on the red dirt and Americana scene down in Key West, Florida. A logistical hurdle just to secure artists and patrons at the southernmost point of America, the very first lineup was far too impressive for many to ignore. Every year since, the folks at Oh Wook! Productions and those working alongside their organization, including the city of Key West, have created arguably the best festival in the country, regardless of genre. Navigating a literal work stoppage of the live music industry just after the 2020 event, last year’s festival was delayed until April but a return to its traditional January dates has been set for the fifth installment (January 25-29) and the list of artists expected to join fans this year is especially impressive.

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BACK FOR YEAR FIVE: Wade Bowen, Cody Canada and the Departed, Mike and the Moonpies, Jamie Lin Wilson, Walt Wilkins, Jason Eady, Courtney Patton, Kaitlin Butts, Tina Wilkins, Bri Bagwell, Red Dirt Rangers

RETURNING FROM A PREVIOUS YEAR: Randy Rogers Band, American Aquarium, Reckless Kelly, Shane Smith and the Saints, The Band of Heathens, Micky and the Motorcars, John Fullbright, Adam Hood, Stoney Larue, Ray Wylie Hubbard, RC and the Ambers, Morgan Wade, Bonnie Bishop, Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers, The Dirty River Boys, Topo Chico Cowboys, Kylie Frey

MAKING THEIR INITIAL APPEARANCE: Parker McCollum, Ryan Bingham, The Dead South, Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights, Channing Wilson, Zac Wilkerson, The Hooten Hallers

Mile 0 Fest 2020: Raising the Bar

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.

New Additions

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.

American Aquarium

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.

Reckless Kelly

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.

80’s Ladies

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

***CLICK HERE to renew or register for your opportunity to attend in 2021***

Mile 0 Fest 2020: Instagram Takeover Artist Previews

Mile 0 Fest 2020 kicks off one week from today…

Mile 0 Fest returns for its third installment January 28 – February 1 in Key West, Florida. One of the best festivals available to fans of red dirt and Americana music, Mile 0 Fest has rocketed its way into the top echelon of events with stellar lineups, unique experiences, an amazing setting and relentless work effort of those behind the scenes. The 2020 edition boasts arguably the best lineup of any festival – ever – and with 88 artists performing over 140 shows in four-plus days there’s no indication things will be slowing down anytime soon.

This year, RedDirtNC is excited to partner with four of those performers throughout the event in order to give fans, both in attendance and elsewhere, a truly unique perspective. Make sure you’re following all of our social media (Facebook, Twitter, InstagramRedDirtNC) but especially Instagram next Wednesday – Saturday (January 29 – February 1) for what promises to be some entertaining and fun content!

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 29 – AMERICAN AQUARIUM

Mile 0 Fest Scheduled Performances:
WED (1/29) Truman Waterfront Park Amphitheater, 8:10pm-9:10pm
THUR (1/30) 1800 Tequila Southernmost Beach Resort Stage, 3:10pm-4:10pm

-NC’s own BJ Barham takes control to kick off coverage and provide some behind the scenes footage and commentary during the first full day of Mile 0 Fest 2020.

THURSDAY, JANUARY 30 – MIKE AND THE MOONPIES

Mile 0 Fest Scheduled Performances:
TUE (1/28) The Bacardi Durty Harry’s Stage, 10:30pm-1:00am
THUR (1/30) Dante’s, 11:00am-3:10pm
THUR (1/30) Truman Waterfront Park Amphitheater, 7:00pm-7:50pm

-An inaugural member of the lineup from year one, the Moonpies are one of the hottest bands in the country and will be leading the charge on day two.

FRIDAY, JANUARY 31 – LUCAS JAGNEAUX

Mile 0 Fest Scheduled Performances:
WED (1/29) The Bacardi Durty Harry’s Stage, 12:00pm-1:00pm
THUR (1/30) 1800 Tequila Southernmost Beach Resort Stage, 12:30pm-1:30pm

-A Mile 0 Fest rookie, Jagneaux worked his way onto the lineup by virtue of winning the Texas Music Picker’s Songwriter contest and you’ll want to catch one of his sets to see why.

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 1 – CHANCE ANDERSON

Mile 0 Fest Scheduled Performances:
FRI (1/31) The Deep Eddy Smokin’ Tuna Stage, 12:50am-1:50am
SAT (2/1) 1800 Tequila Southernmost Beach Resort Stage, 12:30pm-1:30pm

-An Oklahoma native, Anderson impressed during each of the first two events and is back armed with new music you don’t want to miss.

Mile 0 Fest 2020: Seven Things to Know Before You Go

Seven things you need to know before you go…

Two weeks from today, a few thousand people will descend upon Key West for one of the best vacations imaginable. For first-timers and veterans alike, these seven tips will enhance your Mile 0 Fest experience as you prepare for four-plus days of the best in Red Dirt and Americana music.

1. “It’s A Marathon, Not A Sprint.”
This is saying many will hear prior to arriving on the island and during the first few days of festival – in particular at Tuesday night’s Duval Street Party. As cliche as it may sound, it is sage advice. Yes, you’re on vacation but this isn’t simply a one-night affair. Shows begin daily at 11:00am and last until 2:00am – that’s 14 solid hours of music for four consecutive days – plan accordingly.

2. Wear Comfortable Shoes
It’s likely a majority of people heading to the southernmost point of the continental United States are coming from cooler climates. With late January temperatures averaging between 71 and 77 degrees, flip flops are appropriate but if you’re not fully prepared to walk a considerable amount in them then consider something a little more practical.

<<CLICK HERE FOR APPROXIMATE WALKING TIMES BETWEEN VENUES>>

3. Use the Mile 0 Fest App
You’ll want to make use of this important festival perk routinely ahead of time, while on the island and following each show. From being able to plan your own personal schedule to receiving push notifications about updates or changes, there is so much useful information available at your fingertips. Maps, frequently asked questions, a new photo challenge and more already appear on the main menu, in addition to a new ability for offering reviews and feedback directly to the festival from every performance.

4. It’s 5:00 Somewhere
The Truman Waterfront Park Amphitheater shows begin at 5:00pm ET but that doesn’t mean it’s where you should start. Each day there are events beginning at 11:00am ET and it’s here where you can meet new friends, find new artists, and make some of the best memories during the week. Go support these individuals and the variety of different venues associated with Mile 0 Fest across the island.

5. Consider the Environment
Key West is roughly four miles long and just one mile wide at the end of the Florida Keys. As a place dependent on natural resources and tourism, ensuring the sustainability of both becomes the responsibility of everyone who resides on the island. For this reason, expect paper straws and limited single-use plastics. Reusable water bottles are recommended and many venues also offer a discount on beer when using a provided cup of the same nature.

6. Charitable Causes
There’s an abundance of music and good times all across the island but don’t miss out on the opportunity to make a difference while you’re in attendance. Mile 0 Fest is committed to giving back and there are multiple opportunities to contribute to the Red Dirt Relief Fund, Michelle Halpern Foundation and Bahama Village Music Program through the festival sponsored Fishing Derby and signed guitar auctions.

7. Take It All In
From maritime museums to botanical gardens and Ernest Hemingway to Harry S. Truman, there is plenty to see on the island. Best suited for a few extra days before or after the festival, there are plenty of tourist opportunities to ensure you get the full experience of Key West. Mallory Square is known for street performances and sunset celebrations but the amphitheater also offers wonderful late day views from its grassy knoll along the back of the venue if you don’t want to miss any music.

It’s a vacation, trip, festival, etc. unlike any other but it’s also important to remember that it’s the people of Key West and those in attendance, working and responsible for putting on the event – who make it extremely special. A boutique festival with another incredibly talented lineup ensures all of the music heard throughout the week will be spectacular, so have fun, meet new people, take care of your bar tenders and enjoy one of the best times you’ll have all year – guaranteed.

‘The Tulsa Revue’ showcases Oklahoma artists

Multiple Oklahoma artists played the ISIS Music Hall stage in Asheville Friday night – 10/25/2019

Oklahoma is home to red dirt music and while the tag falls in line with other genres, in terms of attempting to label musicians and their particular sound, it’s also a representation of independent artists making music the way they want to make it. Instead of performing songs simply for a paycheck and the sole enjoyment of others, these individuals and bands entertain by telling stories their own way with each set seemingly benefiting both the performer and audience – a catharsis in a setting rarely replicated by those considered to be “main stream” performers.

Last Friday night at ISIS Music Hall in Asheville, ‘The Tulsa Revue’ featuring John Fullbright, Jacob Tovar, Paul Benjaman and Jesse Aycock was a perfect example of the musical hotbed that is the “Sooner State”. Four extremely talented musicians who each have their own solo projects, deciding to join forces and take their combined skills on the road with the end result creating a perfect musical conglomerate.

Opening with a brief introduction by Fullbright, who jokingly discussed how all the group members were friends wanting to, “put their friendship to the test”. The solution was to pack all of their gear and necessities into the smallest van available for a tour. With eight stops across five states in less than a month, to whoever decided these guys should play together outside of Oklahoma – we salute you.

Tovar, who was featured for his set at Medicine Stone earlier this year, opened the show with his unique honky-tonk sound. Utilizing clever lyrics with sensational style, it was immediately apparent everyone in attendance was in for a treat with Benjaman on lead guitar, Fullbright playing keys, Aycock’s lap steel and a quality rhythm section (bass, drum kit) to back them up.

Benjaman was up next with Tovar exiting, taking his turn to shine in the spotlight. Sharing a few songs of his own, the combination seemingly flourished as the night unfolded. In sharp contrast to Tovar, his tone was more low key and groovy, displaying the versatility of each performer.

Fullbright concluded the show with a few solo songs and group performances. Able to command the focus of an audience with his songs, there were multiple moments during his set where the crowd was seemingly hanging on every word or simply amazed at his musical talent.

Closing out with Tovar and everyone else rejoining Fullbright on stage, the group concluded the evening with a hearty rendition of ‘Saved‘, written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller and performed by a variety of artists including Elvis Presley and The Band.

It’s a safe bet that while not everyone in attendance may have known each of the group’s members before the night began – Fullbright, Tovar, Benjaman and Aycock each earned some new fans by turning Asheville – known for its own vibrant music scene – into Tulsa for one extremely special night.

2019 Medicine Stone: 10 Best Things We Saw

Three different stages showcased a stacked lineup as Medicine Stone 2019 did not disappoint.

Year seven of Medicine Stone, originally created in collaboration with Jason Boland and the Turnpike Troubadours, was missing a key contributor at Diamondhead Resort in Tahlequah, Oklahoma this past weekend. After announcing an “indefinite hiatus” in May, fears of an event cancellation surfaced but those behind-the-scenes took steps to ensure a continued, high-quality, weekend of music.

The legendary Robert Earl Keen was tabbed to fill a headlining position and although there was no set from the Troubadours, their presence was felt throughout the festival grounds. Appearances by members of the band, sitting in with others or leading their own projects were witnessed, in addition to covers by many who were there performing and Turnpike songs could often be heard between sets.

Following, in no particular order, are the 10 best things we experienced at this year’s Medicine Stone.

RC and the Ambers

Affectionately referred to as the godfather of Medicine Stone by Doc Fell during his set on Saturday, RC Edwards, bassist for the Turnpike Troubadours, and his project, RC and the Ambers, kicked off the main stage lineup Thursday night. Singing their own original songs, in addition to a few covers, locals got to witness the rise of some of their own as Edwards, Amber Watson and Jordan Cox took the stage alongside Kyle Nix, the Turnpike Troubadours fiddle player. Watson’s angelic voice paired with the gritty Edwards and a harmonic Cox, combine to create a unique and very well received sound.

Osage County

Rain greeted Osage County on the Gravel Bar stage Friday morning, but it didn’t slow anyone down. Fans piled into the area as Cox, who played with RC and the Ambers on day one, put his relatively new band on full display. Leading an entertaining and high-energy set, featuring hits ‘Like I Used To‘, ‘By and By‘, and ‘Wildfire‘ from their debut EP with a few new ones mixed in – it quickly became apparent this group is on a solid trajectory for success after forming just last summer.

Jacob Tovar

Jacob Tovar is the epitome of old-school country music with a resonant voice, honkytonk style and twist all his own. Just as the sun broke through on Friday afternoon, Tovar also began heating up. Joined by pedal steel phenomenon Roger Ray (who featured his talents throughout the weekend by sitting in with multiple artists), and musical genius John Fullbright on keys, his hour-long set spanned the full spectrum of pacing from slow, easy listening, to getting up for a dance and eventually a full-on party. Tovar left fans wanting more as he continues to grow his audience in Oklahoma and beyond.

Courtney Patton

Making her Medicine Stone debut, singer-songwriter Courtney Patton was flanked by fellow songstresses, Jamie Lin Wilson and Kaitlin Butts, all while being backed by Ray and his magical pedal steel guitar. While the harmonies and soulful steel were amazing, it was Patton’s voice and lyrics that carried her 90-minute set. Spectators were greeted with a wave of emotions as Patton dedicated a song to Kylie Rae Harris, a fellow musician who was recently killed in a car accident, just as a perfectly timed gust of wind removed Patton’s hat prior to the chorus. She also covered one of Harris’ songs before taking requests from the crowd, which included ‘Fourteen Years‘, a song about Patton’s own sister who tragically passed away while she was in college. One of the best sets all weekend, Patton made quite the impression on those in attendance.

Max and Heather Stalling

Down at the River Stage, just outside the main venue, Max Stalling was telling his own musical tales while sharing an enjoyable set of his own. Alongside his wife, Heather Stalling, the two share more than a musical connection as her fiddle playing and harmonies add flair to each and every song. Finishing his set with an enthusiastic version of ‘Bass Run‘, Stalling took the time to thank Medicine Stone – as he too was making a first appearance – in addition to everyone who works behind-the-scenes to orchestrate such a large scale event. Especially thankful for the sound engineers, who Stalling referred to as the, “first ones in and last ones out”, both Stalling’s undoubtedly gained many new fans with their performance.

Dixie Chicks Tribute

Fans began piling up in front of the River Stage well before showtime in anticipation of this very special set. Performed only once before, Heather Stalling, Butts, Patton and Wilson joined forces paying tribute to the 13-time Grammy Award-winning Dixie Chicks and their library of hits. After countless classics, this quartet – who were accompanied by a drum kit and upright bass, dialed up the Merle Haggard classic, ‘I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink‘ before paying tribute to the Turnpike Troubadours.

With the fans on their feet and crowding the stage, Butts belted the words to ‘Gin, Smoke and Lies‘ as enthusiastic fans sang along with her word-for-word while Wilson added harmonica before spiking it to the stage. Eventually, they returned to the task at hand with a Dixie Chicks finale as festival goers and fellow artists both looked on well aware they were witnessing a rare but beautiful experience.

Chris Blevins

Henryetta, Oklahoma native Chris Blevins is a rising star. Sharing his own personal songs about triumph and heartache, Blevins voice is a unique instrument in its own right. True performers are able to entertain acoustically or with a backing band and Blevins proved capable of the former with his Gravel Bar set. Granted only an hour on a jam packed lineup, Blevins shared his blended blues and folk styles before a haunting rendition of Jason Isbell’sCover Me Up‘.

Kaitlin Butts

If Carter Sampson, who was also part of the lineup – playing a wonderful set on Friday – is the ‘Queen of Oklahoma‘ then Kaitlin Butts is undoubtedly next in line to the throne. Popping up everywhere, Butts shared her talents and unique voice alongside multiple artists throughout the weekend. From singing with fiance’ and Flatland Cavalry front-man Cleto Cordero, Butts also joined Wade Bowen, American Aquarium, Courtney Patton and multiple others on top of her own Saturday afternoon set. One minute, Butts would be meandering through the crowd watching different performances only to be up on stage the next, enhancing someone else’s song. Her star is continually burning brighter and Medicine Stone 2019 served as a coming out party for this Oklahoma songstress.

Doc Fell and Company

Another artist making his Medicine Stone debut, Doc Fell and Co. drew one of the largest crowds to the Gravel Bar over the weekend. Sharing originals like ‘Peacemaker‘ and ‘Tears In Texas‘, Doc Fell and Co. also debuted some new material. ‘Boxes‘ especially has all the components to be another hit for the local Tahlequah general practicioner. Joined by Jordan Cox on accordian, who Fell described as the “swiss army knife of red dirt” and former Jason Boland and the Stragglers drummer, Brad Rice, the set delivered by Doc Fell and Co. capped with Amber Watson joining Fell on stage for his own version of ‘Beulah Land‘ – an upbeat take on the classic hymn with a personal twist.

William Clark Green

The lineup at Medicine Stone was stacked with legitimate talent and William Clark Green found himself sandwiched between North Carolina’s own American Aquarium and overall festival headliner, Jason Boland. A precarious position but Green answered the bell, dishing out arguably the most memorable main stage set of the entire festival. Before taking down Uncle Bekah in Beer Puppeteer and sitting below the Gravel Bar to enjoy Fullbright’s late-night set, Green was entertaining fans with his own rock-solid performance. Transitioning into an array of classics during a culminating performance of ‘She Likes the Beatles‘ and giving his bandmates an opportunity to shine in the spotlight, Green’s notable set was well worth the wait.

Overall, Medicine Stone proved capable of sustaining the absence from one of their pillars and should continue bringing people – who share a love for live, original music – from all across the country together well into the future.