“Getting back feels great because it’s been so long for everybody,” says Milk Carton Kid Joey Ryan, reflecting on the past year. For all artists, not being able to play live shows has been especially hard when their main passion is bringing people together.
Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale are the Milk Carton Kids, a neo-traditional folk duo from Los Angeles. Known for their harmonies and rootsy songwriting, they are also now known by their fans for their comedic, deadpan banter onstage. This is something they have been able to teach aspiring musicians who attend their songwriting camp, called Sad Songs, where they enjoy imparting the knowledge they’ve gained over the years.
“It’s been incredibly rewarding teaching at this camp because our regular job is: We get onstage and everyone else has to shut up and only we get a microphone. And you literally turn off every other light in the room except for a bright spotlight shining on us,” Ryan explains. “This camp is the opposite of that. All of the focus is on the students and their process, their songwriting, and their singing. All of the energy is going the other way. For once we’re not the center of attention, and that’s good.”
The Milk Carton Kids are also excited to be able to bond with others while on tour. “When you tour with somebody new, you develop this unique friendship or bond. I have really good friends that I’ve only ever spent 10 days with. It’s this intense experience, and you feel like you’ve known them longer than you have.” One of their new touring friends will be Haley Heynderickx, whom they will be playing with Tuesday, August 31, at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara. “Touring with Haley was just a matter of us being fans of hers and getting connected in that way. Also, we feel a real connection to the Lobero Theatre. We come back as much as possible, and Santa Barbara is one of the places we’ve been playing the longest.”
The Milk Carton Kids and Haley Heynderickx play Tuesday, August 31, at the Lobero Theatre (33 E. Canon Perdido St.). See lobero.org for tickets. The Milk Carton Kids are set to release a special 10th anniversary box-set reissue of their critically acclaimed debut album Prologue, out September 24 on Milk Carton Kids Records. Preorder the box set here or via the band’s website here.