As I reflect on year six of Mile 0 Fest, two questions I was asked last week stick out to me. The first happened on Friday afternoon while posted up front for the Randy/Wade extravaganza. A gentleman asked me what favorite new artist I’d discovered at the festival. I had to find a way to humbly say that I had already seen every artist I’d seen to that point. But, I made sure to let him know that Red Clay Strays had blown me away and laid me flat for two years running. He concurred that they were really good, but said his favorite discovery had been The Damn Quails. Moments like that make me realize I’m not built like other music fans. I first heard The Damn Quails a decade ago. And they’ve always been great! But, they’re not new to me. This isn’t a hipster bragging about digging a band before they got big type revelation; it was just the realization that new music is my drug.
The second question related to this was asked of me by my buddy Aaron Bentley, when he asked me, essentially, what’s new with Galleywinter for his podcast. It led me into an extended response about how it’s still all about chasing the dragon of music discovery. I love my old favorites, but finding a new band you love or hearing a new song that knocks you out is still the juice that keeps me going.
Experiencing that wave of excitement from a front row seat is as good as it gets. I saw it happen this week to Red Clay Strays, Ben Danaher and Lucas Jagneaux. Seeing thousands of people become acquainted with them for the first time was invigorating. Watching the Red Clay boys go from able to mingle through the crowd early in the week to by Saturday being stopped on their scooters, tapped on the shoulder in the beer line, posed for dozens of selfies and told countless times how awesome they were was fantastic. Those guys are about to buckle on to the back of the same rocket ship that so many others have climbed aboard before them. Their life is about to be forever altered. They’ve been tapped as support for some big arena tours, they’ve firmly entrenched themselves among Texas/Red Dirt fans with their undeniable bonafides and they have the songs/live show to back it up. Watching it all come together and coincide is magical.
It is not that much different than watching the coronation of Stapleton with Timberlake at the 2015 CMAs. Shane Smith and the Saints vaulted from last minute additions of Mile 0 year 1 to ass savers in year 2 when they had to play an extended set due to Turnpike’s absence. That little save vaulted them into mass consciousness and they’ve never turned back. Dylan going electric. Hendrix at Woodstock. To varying degrees, they’re all the same thing I’m talking about. Moments that change trajectory. Moments that live in history. Big and small. There are people that were there before those moments and people that arrive after them. The sweet spot is toward the beginning and in the middle. Enjoy the ride.
My extended response to Aaron expounded upon the thought that we at Galleywinter still see ourselves as gatekeepers and filters. We’re not the only voice. We’re not the most important voice. But we’re a voice. And we continue to stand for music we believe in. Especially new music. Us putting you on a playlist, posting about you or inviting you to our River Jam is an endorsement. That endorsement means something to us and hopefully, if we do it right, it means something to other people. If you’re part of the Galleywinter musical family, it means you come straight from the heart. Be it with your songs, live show or passion for music. Ideally, all three.
It’s a beautiful thing when all of that is on display at once. New music connecting with audiences is the best buzz life can provide. At least from this corner. It’s even sweeter when you arrive close to ground zero and are able to see it crescendo into a career. It’s something I’ll never stop chasing. One day this little slice of the internet will be in cobwebs and the world will be on its latest social media platform posting 3 second reels of songs while the crowd loudly talks over them. And I’ll be at a grungy bar or music venue soaking in the seeds of the next big thing. It’s what I live for. I recommend it. Get out. See some artists that are new to you. You just never know when you’ll be seeing the next Turnpike, Shane Smith or Red Clay Strays. It’s annoying and braggadocious to say you were there frist. But, it sure makes your heart swell and soul stir.
-Our house concert kick off is 3 weeks away with Kevin Galloway! Just a couple tickets left. Join us for a night of song, story and memories in West, TX. Comma, not direction. Kolaches not dust.
-Attended LJT for 20 years. Someone from our crew has been at Steamboat each year since 2004. Just hit my sixth straight year of Mile 0. Been lucky enough to cover ACL, Hang Out, Jazz Fest, Americana Fest and several others. All of them are fantastic. LJT will always feel like home. Steamboat will always be the godfather. But, Mile 0 still gets it the most right. And is the major festival that feels most like a vacation and escape. Just can’t say enough about how Kyle Carter and company run the whole experience. They get it.
-The annual Cowboys meltdown doesn’t make me mad anymore. Just sad. And numb.
-One festival I still haven’t been able to swing is from my good friends Josh Grider and Drew Kennedy out in Red River. They’re hosting another Red River Songwriter Festival this weekend and if you were able to snag a ticket, I hope you have the best time ever with the best people ever.
-Left Key West and returned to a winter storm. Life is about balance.
-One final Mile 0 thought. Each year down there, many people engage me in conversations about who I think should be on the bill that’s not there or never been. For the never been crowd, I can’t think of anyone better than Josh Weathers, Shaker Hymns, Austin Gilliam, Graycie York, Drew Cooper and Ellis Bullard. I do agree with the Facebook commenter who said they can’t invite Weathers because it would cause a hurricane. Still needs to happen. Talk about people discovering an artist that is new to them and freaking out. Weathers would be the Mayor of Key West after his first set.
-This month’s recommended release: Rio Tripiano is releasing his first solo single this week and it deserves your attention as much as any face melting lead he has laid down. The “Midnight Marionette” drops Friday and will be on The Drop. And everywhere else. Buckle up.
-”Of all the things I miss, I miss my mind the most.” - Mark Twain