The Milk Carton Kids
An independent folk duo from California, The Milk Carton Kids are comprised of Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan. Both members play vintage guitars, and lend an ear towards the traditions of folk while striving to make cross-genre music and impact.
Recent years have been significant ones for the group, with recognition including a Grammy nomination for Best Folk Album and winning Group of the Year at the 2014 Americana Music Awards. While some of their awards reference specific genres, the duo quickly transcends those tags with clear inflections of jazz, classical, even the dark lyricism of modern “alternative,” all broadening their appeal. The typical audience at a Milk Carton Kids concert ranges from 14 to 84. Sources as varied as Sara Bareilles and Garrison Keillor have cited the growing importance of the duo’s contribution, with the latter declaring them to be “absolute geniuses in close-harmony.” The political undertones in <em?the ash="" &="" clay<="" em=""> led musician and activist Billy Bragg to declare it his favorite album of 2013. When they rehearsed for T Bone and the Coen Brothers in the concert documentary Another Day/Another Time, Marcus Mumford cried on Chris Thile’s shoulder. At their second standout performance at Newport Folk Festival in as many years, Jack White made sure to listen from side stage. This past year, The Milk Carton Kids were asked to pay tribute to Johnny Cash and Emmylou Harris — Cash on the Joe Henry-produced remake of “Bitter Tears,” and Harris with their standing ovation performance at the tribute concert “The Life & Songs of Emmylou Harris,” among luminaries including Kris Kristofferson, Mavis Staples, Alison Kraus, Iron & Wine, and Harris herself. If Cash and Harris taught us that American music is meant to be taken at its expansive word, without confines or borders, The Milk Carton Kids appear to have taken the lesson to heart.
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