Press photo via Paradigm Talent Agency
The Milk Carton Kids
Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan make up the Los Angeles-based duo the Milk Carton Kids, a band that has discovered a unique sound by coupling one another’s acoustic melodies with some very thoughtful songwriting. This is certainly music for the soul, and the wide range of people in the band's audience speaks to that: College students, young pros, parents and grandparents alike all gathered together on Wednesday night at the Sheldon Concert Hall for some serious music therapy.
Folk quartet the Goodbye Girls opened the ceremonies with rootsy melodies that took us back to simpler times. Lead singer Molly Tuttle met the Milk Carton Kids at a folk artists’ convention in the last year, and the duo was so taken with her ability that they sought her out for a series of shows along their travels. It just so happened that Molly was part of a really awesome band, so teaming up for the tour just made sense. Along with a fiddle player from Sweden, a banjo player from Canada and a bass player from Boston, the opening band shared soothing melodies that speak to a worldly audience.
About a quarter of the way through the show, Pattengale and Ryan discussed how they met on the road and began recording music together. Each was recording “equally terrible” solo albums, they say, so teaming up seemed a solid option. They clearly hit on a sound worth sharing from the get-go, and the two started recording music five years ago, barely stopping to breathe since. In the middle of a 38-city tour to promote their latest album Monterey
, the two musicians were visibly tired, but their passion for the music they share (as well as the desire to entertain a crowd) clearly carried them past the fatigue that must have set in long ago on such a trip.
It does seem the two performers were destined to meet and create this music, as it became more and more apparent throughout the night that their styles complement one another quite well. Pattengale is an incredibly skilled fingerpicking guitarist while Ryan brings a voice of refreshing purity to each song. Both are very talented on their own but they clearly understand the collective power of the music they can create together. Ryan’s rhythm guitar lays the base for Pattengale’s sweet and intricate strumming, while the latter echoes the former’s lead vocals to create a very full sound. By teaming up, they’ve created music they could’ve spent a lifetime trying to discover on their own.
Neither was afraid to interact with the audience throughout the show, and their stories of life on the road together (and life in general) added a whole other dynamic to the performance. They kept the mood light with friendly banter throughout, and they closed out the evening by thanking their audience for their support. Their concluding Pink Floyd tribute “Wish You Were Here” let the crowd know they’ll be gone a while, but they look forward to getting back and playing for St. Louis again soon. Hats off to the musicians for putting heart and soul into their performance, and to the audience for sticking right there with them every step of the way.