Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan have been writing and working together as The Milk Carton Kids since 2011. In that time they have released five records, been included in various small and big screen enterprises and, as of 2018, are the acting hosts of the Americana Music Awards. This colorful history can most likely be particularly attributed to two aspects of their work together: their mellifluous discography (detailed instrumentation and harmonic vocals), and their rapid-fire chemistry. Pattengale and Ryan never fail to riff or build upon what the other has said, and the results vary between sharp insight and comedic banter worthy of Second City. So join us on Americana Podcast as host, Robert Earl Keen, speaks with Pattengale and Ryan on their professional conjunction, songwriting evolution and the expansion of Americana music moving forward.
The Milk Carton Kids are a Grammy Award-nominated neo-traditional folk duo from Los Angeles, California. Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan formed the group in early 2011, shelving their solo careers in favor of a collaborative project that focused on harmonized vocals, entwined acoustic guitars, and rootsy songwriting. They released their first two albums — the live Retrospect and studio LP Prologue — in 2011, at which time they also began a pattern of persistent touring. Known on the road for their adversarial, Smothers Brothers-evoking comedic banter as well as their virtuosic guitar skills (Pattengale’s intricate picking and Ryan’s airtight rhythm guitar), they added a backing band to the project for the first time in 2018 with their fourth studio album, All the Things That I Did and All the Things That I Didn’t Do. The duo pared things back in 2019 for the intimate The Only Ones.
The Americana Podcast is a platform dedicated to sharing and expanding on the Americana genre’s roots, reach, and definition. Each episode is told from the point of view of the musicians that have dedicated their lives to it.
Host Robert Earl Keen, equipped with his 19 albums and 30 years in the music industry, knows a thing or two about Americana. Keen’s music was seemingly genre-bending making him a veritable singer/songwriter without definition until 1997 when radio trade magazine Gavin recognized Americana music and its musicians. With REK on the cover, Gavin, published the first known comprehensive list of Americana artists, placing him in the top 10. With a long-running, vested interest in the Americana music scene, Keen intends for this project to be a method in which musicians, music lovers, and artists come together over storytelling. Americana Podcast is not sponsored as we prefer to keep the vision of this project pure and without distraction or bias.
Tune in to Americana podcast every month for more episodes like this one and check out American Songwriter’s latest interview with The Milk Carton Kids here.