Folk duet impassions West Coast performances
Posted November 8, 2011 at 9:03 pm in Lifestyle
For a band whoâs never played with Over The Rhine before, The Milk Carton Kids already have a history with the Ohio-based husband-and-wife duo.
âWe were on our way to a show and listening to Over The Rhine in the car,â said Joey Ryan, one half of 2011âs folk sensation The Milk Carton Kids. âWe became fans very quickly â after that we decided it would be really cool to do a show with them.â
Kenneth Pattengale, the second face of The Milk Carton Kids, emailed Over The Rhine guitarist, pianist and bassist Linford Detweiler to tell him how much he admired his work, and the two began writing to each other.
Five months later, Ryan and Pattengale are getting ready to open for Over The Rhine at El Rey Theatre, marking the beginning of a weeklong west coast tour.
âThis is our first opportunity to play in Los Angeles for an audience this big,â Ryan said. âWe know theyâll be a great audience. Itâll be a real honor to open the show.â
The El Rey show also represents fulfillment of a more personal kind â Pattengale and Ryan are native Angelenos; Ryan attended UC Berkeley, and Pattengale, a USC alumnus, graduated with a degree in history and a minor certificate in critical studies in 2006.
âEvery time we play in [Los Angeles] it feels like a homecoming show,â Pattengale said. âThe crowds here have been very kind to us.â
Itâs a modest statement for a band that has already sold out Santa Monicaâs famedÂ McCabeâsÂ twice this year. Yet, the ability of Pattengale and Ryan to connect with their fans has remained steady as they continue their rapid ascent into fame.
The two also manage to make folk music appealing to those who normally reject the genre, and do so while giving away their music for free â saying itâs their live shows, not their CD sales, that mean the most.
âThe records are an extremely great point of pride for us, but thereâs something more, something more pure and different you get from a live performance every time,â Ryan said.
Remarkably, The Milk Carton Kidsâ casual approach to album revenues hasnât colored the business side of their live performances. They are, sincerely, not in it for the money.
âPay for the show,â Pattengale said. âCome in, say hello to us, enjoy the night and then download the music for free. Thereâs something extra special about that.â
Itâs The Milk Carton Kidsâ passion for performing that has made their concerts so beloved in Los Angeles. The pair knows people are seeing them at their best.
âWe have always hung our hats on the strength of our live shows,â Pattengale said. âOur first release was a live album, and we donât put anything on the albums outside of what people see live anyway.â
For as much attention as Pattengale and Ryan have garnered in recent months, The Milk Carton Kids are a relatively recent creation. The two have known each other nearly two years, but it wasnât until February that they began writing and playing as the folk duo we know today.
âThe albums we were working on before we met each other were full of different instruments and sounds and effects,â Ryan said. âThen we met and started doing simpler things, just two guitars and two voices. Eventually we just decided we needed a name for it all.â
âTwo Guitars and Two Voicesâ has become the duoâs signature of sorts, referring to their bare, stripped-down style of writing and recording. The bandâs albumsÂ Retrospect, released in March, andÂ Prologue, released in July, convey an unassuming openness between artist and listener. InÂ PrologueÂ tracks such as âMichiganâ and âThere By Your Side,â their voices, at once husky over two guitars, make you understand their widespread appeal.
The successful duo isnât reluctant about staying together and shows no signs of separation. The Milk Carton Kids will at least stay together for a little bit.
âOne more month,â said Ryan immediately.
Pattengale gravely added, âAt least.â
They held for a moment, then yielded to fits of laughter before soberly outlining plans for festival performances, film score writing and even the possibility of a third album drop in the coming year.
âWeâve both indefinitely shelved our solo careers,â Ryan said. âNeither of us has plans to stop. There are other things we want to do, film scoring, all that, but for now itâs this. We work really well together.â
The Milk Carton Kids will open for Over The Rhine at El Rey Theatre on Nov. 13 at 8 p.m.