In this exclusive interview, Mark Baratto sits down with Rapper and Singer of the Dirty Heads, Jared Watson (aka Dirty J).

This interview happened 30 minutes before the band went on stage for the beginning of their national tour, down here at the Key West Amphitheater.

It may have been short, but for those fans out there, we touched on the bands origin story and their beginnings.

It may have been short, but for those fans out there, we touched on the bands origin story and their beginnings.

This episode is brought to you by the Backyards of Key West Gallery

Looking for local Key West art?  We’ve got you covered!  

More on the Dirty Heads

Following in the footsteps of their California brothers Sublime, Huntington Beach’s Dirty Heads mix hip-hop, reggae, and rock along with that laid-back South Cali attitude. The group formed in 2003 when punk rocker Dustin Bushnell (aka Duddy B) asked his friend, rapper Jared Watson (aka Dirty J), to collaborate on a project that would focus on positive vibes and infectious grooves. Watson added singing to his vocal skills, and with percussionist Jon Olazabal, an acoustic trio version of Dirty Heads began playing shows and building an audience. 

They soon hooked up with producer Rob Cavallo and headed into the studio to record their debut album for Warner Bros., but differences with the label had them looking for other opportunities. Still, the band was able to retain most of its work, including sessions with drummer Josh Freese, along with the late-Beatles collaborator Billy Preston in one of the keyboardist’s last recordings. The finished album, Any Port in a Storm, would arrive in 2008, with a deluxe edition following in 2010. The deluxe version featured the track “Lay Me Down” with special guest Rome Ramirez of Sublime with Rome. The song would top Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart just before the summer of 2010. 

They followed up two years later with Cabin by the Sea and later recorded an acoustic version of the title track. This, in turn, led to an entire acoustic album in 2013 called Home: Phantoms of Summer. Dirty Heads’ next album, Sound of Change, would prove to be a breakthrough for the now-veteran band, debuting at number eight on the Billboard Top 200 while topping the Independent and Alternative Albums charts upon its May 2014 release. 

Building on their renewed success, Dirty Heads enlisted a bevy of industry hitmakers to work on their self-titled 2016 follow-up, which — thanks to its mainstream appeal — again charted high on the Billboard Top 200. The following year saw the band drop its sixth studio album, Swim Team, featuring the singles “Vacation” and “Staloney.” Also included on the album was the track “So Glad You Made It,” featuring 311’s Nick Hexum. The single “Listen to Me” arrived in early 2019 and was later included on Dirty Heads’ Dave Cobb-produced seventh album Super Moon. ~ David Jeffries, Rovi







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In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with two of the most well-known songwriters in Nashville; Craig Wisman and Lee Thomas Miller.

If you are an aspiring songwriter or musician, this episode is filled with so much wisdom, that it’s a can’t miss.

We discuss their writing process and how they pump out over 100 songs per year… year after year.

Between them, they have 33 # 1 songs, winning a number of industry awards, and have written songs for some of country music’s top artists like Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, Dolly Parton, Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan, Dierks Bentley, Carrie Underwood, Jason Aldean, Florida Georgia Line, Brian Kelley, Brad Paisley, Trace Adkins, Terri Clark, Jamey Johnson, Chris Stapleton… the list goes on and on!

Be on the listen for a little jam session by Craig Wiseman on the guitar after the closing music… ENJOY!

Reach out to Craig here:


Big Loud Publishing





Reach out to Lee here: 



More on Craig Wiseman

Craig Wiseman is one of country music’s most renowned, talented and distinguished writers. From his early days of writing and drumming in Hattiesburg, Mississippi to being crowned Songwriter of the Century by ASCAP, he has indeed created for himself a monumental platform in the history of country music. As the writer of songs including Brooks and Dunn’s “Believe” to Blake Shelton’s “Boys ‘Round Here”, Wiseman has amassed over 350 cuts, 125 singles, and 27 #1’s.

After moving to Nashville in 1985 to pursue a career in songwriting, he received his first chart success after having co-written “The Only One” from Roy Orbison’s album, Mystery Girl. In 1990, Wiseman signed his first publishing deal with Almo/Irving Music, and ten years later, he signed with BMG Music Publishing. In 2003, Wiseman opened his own publishing company, and within the first year of the independent company’s operation, Wiseman experienced the first single of the catalog; “Live Like You Were Dying” by Tim McGraw not only peaked at the top of the charts for ten weeks, but it also was named NSAI Song of the Year, CMA Song of the Year, ACM Song of the Year and won the Grammy Award for Best Country Song. In 2012, Wiseman co-founded Big Loud’s management division, the launchpad of Florida Georgia Line, followed by Big Loud Records in 2015.

Wiseman’s success has continued to escalate at exponential levels throughout the years. He was proclaimed ASCAP’s “Songwriter of the Year” in 2003, 2005, and 2007 in addition to being named “Writer of the Year” by NSAI and Music Row in 1997. In 2009, he received the impressive honor of NSAI’s “Songwriter of the Decade” and won the 2014 Heritage Award from ASCAP as the most performed country songwriter of the century. Following those years of success, hard work & accomplishments, Wiseman was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in October of 2015. In 2017, Wiseman was honored with a CMA Triple Play Award for FGL’s “Anything Goes” & Blake Shelton’s “Gonna” & “Came Here To Forget.”

Although his accomplishments are nothing less than extraordinary, Wiseman’s talents and endeavors extend far beyond the field of songwriting. As a complement to Tim McGraw’s “Live Like You Were Dying”, Wiseman co-wrote a book with the same title, which topped the New York Times Best Seller list in 2004. Additionally, he co-wrote the book A Baby Changes Everything in 2008, in conjunction with Faith Hill’s #1 single. The following year, Wiseman starred in a reality TV show, The Hitmen of Music Row, which aired on GAC.

For the past 15 years, Wiseman has hosted The Stars of Second Harvest Show at the Ryman, showing his philanthropic heart and giving all proceeds to the Second Harvest Food Bank Of Middle Tennessee. To date, this musical event has raised more than $1.5 million for the food bank.

Craig’s Instagram:

Big Loud Publishing





More on Lee Thomas Miller


3 Time Grammy Award Nominee:

2003 Grammy nomination: 

“The Impossible” (Joe Nichols) Country Song of the Year:

2009 Double Grammy nomination:

“You’re Gonna Miss This”(Trace Adkins)-  Country Song of the Year

“In Color” (Jamey Johnson)- Country Song of the Year

Music Row Magazine: Breakthrough Songwriter of the year 2003

Awarded one of NSAI’s  ‘Ten Songs I Wish I Had Written’ 2003: “The Impossible”

Awarded one of NSAI’s  ‘Ten Songs I Wish I Had Written’ 2008: “You’re Gonna Miss This”

Won Song of the Year at the 2008 NSAI awards for “You’re Gonna Miss This”

Nominated for Song of the Year at 2008 CMA awards for “You’re Gonna Miss This”

2009 Double ACM Nominee: “You’re Gonna Miss This” and “In Color” for Song of the Year.

Won Song of the Year at the 2009 ACM awards for “In Color”

Won Music Row Magazine’s 2009 Song of the Year  for  “In Color”

Awarded one of NSAI’s  ‘Ten Songs I Wish I Had Written’ 2009: “In Color”

Won Song of the Year at the 2009 CMA awards for “In Color”

Awarded BMI’s inaugural “Champion’s Award” 2015

Nominated for Song of the Year at the 2018 ACM awards for “Whiskey and You”

#1 Country Singles:

“The Impossible” (Joe Nichols)**
“I Just Wanna Be Mad” 
(Terri Clark)**
“The World” 
(Brad Paisley)**
“You’re Gonna Miss This” 
(Trace Adkins)*
“I’m Still A Guy” (Brad Paisley)
“Southern Girl” (Tim McGraw)
“Perfect Storm” 
(Brad Paisley)

(*received BMI Million Play Award)
(**received BMI 2 Million Play Award)
Other top 10 singles:

“It Aint My Fault” (Brothers Osborne) #9
Crushin’ It” (Brad Paisley) #7
“In Color”  (Jamey Johnson) #7
“Nothing To Die For” (Tim McGraw)  #5
“Jesus In Disguise” (Brandon Heath)  #8
Just A Girl” (Brandon Heath) #8

Other top 20 singles:

“Something To Do With My Hands” (Thomas Rhett) #15
“Crying On A Suitcase” (Casey James) #14
“Leaving Eden” (Brandon Heath) #17

Cuts include:

Tim McGraw, Rascal Flatts, Dierks Bentley, Josh Turner, Brad Paisley, Joe Nichols, Terri Clark, John Michael Montgomery, Sammy Kershaw, Andy Griggs, Tracy Byrd, Tracy Lawrence, Randy Travis, Rhett Akins, Blue County, Billy Currington, Craig Morgan, The Wreckers, Chris Young, Blackhawk, Mark Wills

Production credits include  Curb recording artist Steve Holy including the 2006 #1 single: “Brand New Girlfriend” and 2010 top 20 single “Love Don’t Run”



In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with Real Estate Broker Associate Krystal Thomas.

We talk about everything from the state of the market in Key West, home buying ranging from under $500K to $1.5M+, the different neighborhoods, rental prices, how to rent out your home, and codes to look out for.

If you are thinking about purchasing real estate in Key West, this is the episode for you!

More about Krystal Thomas

Key West and The Florida Keys are my passion. As an agent with Preferred Properties, I provide a wealth of local Key West knowledge, real estate and vacation rental market experience, and an unbeatable client experience. I decided to make Key West my home in 2006 and consider it a privilege to live and work where others vacation.

As an agent my focus is assisting you in the purchase of the best property for your investment needs, island home, or both!I have over 11 years of experience in Real Estate, including 6 years of Key West real estate and vacation rental market experience. As a graduate of Florida State University and former research manager for a commercial real estate research company, I promise to combine my education and work experience with my passion for Key West and will be an invaluable asset to you in the sale or purchase of your Key West home.

Krystal Thomas Real Estate



Email: [email protected]

In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with Stephen Kitsakos, Opera creator, stage director and Artist Advisory Council for The Studios of Key West.

We talk about his career in NYC and how he made it down to Key West.

More on Stephen Kitsakos

STEPHEN KITSAKOS is an opera librettist and stage director. With the American composer, Sheila Silver, he wrote libretti for The Wooden Sword, winner of the Sackler Prize for Composition (World Premiere 2009), The White Rooster for the Smithsonian Institution (World Premiere 2010), and A Thousand Splendid Suns, adapted from the international bestselling novel by Khaled Hosseini, commissioned by the Seattle Opera (World Premiere scheduled 2022, previously presented by the National Opera Center New Works Forum). With the composer Martin Hennessy he wrote the opera-theatre one-act operas, An Incident in Sutton Place & The Woman in Penthouse A (World Premiere 2020) & the upcoming  The Pleasing Recollection (2021) and A Fairy Tale (2021). Other opera & music projects include The Other Voice with Robert Starer & Gail Godwin, Ashokan with Greg Allen & The Woodstock Cycle. Kitsakos is the recipient of grants or commissions from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Commission on the Arts, the Florida Council on the Arts, the Catskill Watershed Commission, the Episcopal Diocese of New York, the Community Foundation of the Florida Keys, the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, NYFA and American Opera Projects.

His work as a stage director concentrates on new works with established and emerging playwrights and includes Smithtown by Drew Larimore starring Michael Urie, Ann Harada, Colby Lewis & Constance Shulman, The Thing About Pipecleaner People by Drew Larimore with Constance Shulman, Anne by Adi Eshman, Red Masquerade by Jack Wade, and Here’s Your Hat, What’s Your Hurry? by Eric Weinberger. Since 2018, he has focused on both directing and engaging in scholarly research for the lesser, unknown and experimental one-act plays of Tennessee Williams including Lifeboat Drill, Kingdom of Earth, Green Eyes The Traveling Companion as an Artistic Associate of the Tennessee Williams Key West Museum. 

A graduate of New York University and the BMI Musical Theater Workshop, between 1999 & 2013 he was a member of the Theatre Arts Faculty at SUNY New Paltz in New York’s Hudson Valley teaching courses in theatre studies, musical theater and performance as well as at Shantigar,the spiritual retreat of playwright Jean-Claude van Italie, and at Kripalu. During that time he was a contributing writer for The Sondheim Review and ABC-CLIO’s Music in American Life. Professional affiliations include a librettist member of Opera America, the Dramatists Guild, and a writer member of ASCAP. His experience as an opera-theatre writer has informed his approach to directing and his approach to directing has informed his writing libretti for the opera stage.

In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter James T. Slater to talk about how he got started, and where he is headed in his amazing career.

More on James T. Slater

James is a two time, grammy nominated, piano-playing, bilingual singer-songwriter of Bolivian American descent signed to BMG Music Publishing/Nashville with songs recorded by everyone from Carrie Underwood to Tim McGraw to Willie Nelson and Kenny Chesney.