In an ideal world, there would be no need for an information portal such as SavingCountryMusic.com. The best of the genre would naturally be foisted to the front of the line. The brightest prospects would enjoy the biggest spotlight on their way up. And those that preserve the roots and show respect and admiration for those who came before them would have that respect and admiration reciprocated by the fans and powers that be, just as it often was in previous eras.
But unfortunately a discrepancy exists between quality and popularity, substance and support, and this permeates throughout the country genre, not just in the mainstream. Even in the independent realm and Americana, often it is who you know, how you’re slotted, and where the hype is focused that chooses who receives the sweet blessing of popular attention, while some of the most potent music remains obfuscated and hard to find.
Perhaps Mike and the Moonpies are the greatest true country band out there right now. They at least deserve to be in that discussion. But what is hard to argue is that Mike and the Moonpies are the band out there right now where the quality of their music, the infectiousness of the vibe, and the enthusiasm, attitude, and heart they expend in their music is woefully out-of-whack with how many people know about them.
This truth was patently evident when they released their latest record Steak Night at the Prairie Rose recently, putting themselves right in the mix for early Album of the Year consideration. And at Mile 0 Fest in Key West, Florida this weekend, they proved the positive reception for the record wasn’t just the result of studio magic.
At their small club show at Durty Harry’s on the infamous Duval St. Thursday night (2-8), and then on their main stage slot at the Truman Waterfront Amphitheater Friday (2-9), Mike and the Moonpies exemplified why they’re worth whatever accolades anyone chooses to send their way. Since they’re so tied to the Texas honky tonks, they just haven’t had an opportunity yet to cultivate a more national and international narrative like the Turnpike Troubadours, or Cody Jinks. But when it comes to the music—live or recorded—they give nothing up to any other act.
As good as their record is, the harmonic melodies between the steel guitar, lead guitar, and keyboard, Mike’s scrappy attitude and funny quips on the mic, along with the attack and upbeat passion they bring to their music is nearly unparalleled live. No, they’re not a songwriter’s “cry in your beer” band that will give you “feels” on every song. But as an authentic Texas honky tonk beer joint band, they bring entertainment value pound for pound right up there with anybody in true country.
It’s been a slow burn for Mike and the Moonpies. They’re heading toward a decade now in the business. But the time might be right for them to take their act out of the Texas honky tonks and to a bigger audience. If their shows at Mile 0 Fest were any indication, it couldn’t happen soon enough.
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Stay tuned to Saving Country Music for further recaps from Mile 0 Fest.