The Milk Carton Kids turn heads

The two voices of The Milk Carton Kids in perfect close harmony fade into the background like a ghost, as the final hand-picked notes of a folk song ring out from vintage acoustic guitars. Even through the Live from Lincoln Theatre video posted to YouTube, you can sense the audience collectively draw a breath in awe of the performance before erupting in applause.  While they adjust the tuning of their guitars, Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan speak quietly to each other in witty banter that has the audience laughing out loud. Their act is akin to a love child of Simon and Garfunkel and the Smothers Brothers. 

Hailing from Eagle Rock, California, the indie folk duo The Milk Carton Kids have been turning heads in the folk community in the past five years by playing something different: traditional American folk music.

Returning to tradition may not seem radical on the surface; however, the style of The Milk Carton Kids stands in stark contrast to the foot-stomping grandeur of the American roots revival trend that is popular amongst young folk performers.  The melodious harmonies of Pattengale and Ryan captivate the audience like a lullaby, while their banter between songs creates intimate joy. It is quiet and understated in its genius.

The Milk Carton Kids have been expanding the rich tradition of American folk music to the delight of traditionalists and newcomers alike.  They’ve been nominated for two Grammy awards, and are the winners of the American Music Association’s 2014 Best Duo/Group of the Year. If their beautiful music and onstage humour isn’t enough to turn you into a fan, you can download the first two of their four albums for free: (
Colleen Bedford