The Milk Carton Kids Live: Great Music for English Majors (Friday Feature)

mastro_milk_carton_kidsIf you don’t know, the Milk Carton Kids are an indie folk duo with Americana sensibilities. They’ve been on my playlist since I saw them on youtube on an NPR Tiny Desk concert. Kind of a Simon & Garfunkel for the folk revival era, string-plucking vocalists Joey Ryan and  Kenneth Pattengale are fascinating entertainers. Armed only with 50s-era guitars, smart writing, and boyish grins, the Milk Carton Kids are on my to-see list.

I wanted to share the 2014 NPR-produced show, “Live at Lincoln Theatre.” It’s a gem. Retro- and intro-spective melodic folk songs are interlaced with Joey Ryan’s Dryasdust commentary on their most recent album, including a typographical history, instructions on pronunciation, and a definition of “eponymous.” The definition is hardly needed for the crowd at the Lincoln Theatre. Joey Ryan claims that 75% of their fans are English majors, including one who is able to distinguish between a generic symbol and a ligature. What follows is a mini-lecture from the musician on the philology of the the ampersand.

Overall, worth sharing for word nerds and roots music lovers alike.

About Brenton Dickieson

“A Pilgrim in Narnia” is a blog project in reading and talking about the work of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the worlds they touched. As a "Faith, Fantasy, and Fiction" blog, we cover topics like children’s literature, apologetics and philosophy, myths and mythology, fantasy, theology, cultural critique, art and writing. This blog includes my thoughts as I read through Lewis and Tolkien and reflect on my own life and culture. In this sense, I am a Pilgrim in Narnia--or Middle Earth, or Fairyland. I am often peeking inside of wardrobes, looking for magic bricks in urban alleys, or rooting through yard sale boxes for old rings. If something here captures your imagination, leave a comment, “like” a post, share with your friends, or sign up to receive Narnian Pilgrim posts in your email box. Brenton Dickieson is a father, husband, friend, university lecturer, and freelance writer from Prince Edward Island, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter, @BrentonDana.
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9 Responses to The Milk Carton Kids Live: Great Music for English Majors (Friday Feature)

  1. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    Do they explain why ‘Milk Carton Kids’? It made me think of playing the jug, somehow – though, come to think of it, I tend to treat emptying cartons as percussion…

    (But I shall have to watch and find out for myself…)


  2. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    Interim snapshot: I enjoyed the ‘sound’, especially the guitar playing, but trying to listen while doing dishes and getting dinner ready does not ‘do justice’ to a ‘proper hearing’ (!) That is not such a surprise – ‘big’ instrumental works (or even familiar choral works) are more likely to ‘succeed’ (‘survive’?!) in such circumstances (across the room, against splash and sizzle). Beyond that, I wonder, when I can hear and attend properly, whether I will wish for subtitles, or, better yet, the lyrics typed out – for your comparison with Simon & Garfunkel and reference to “smart writing” justly indicate these are ‘art song’ folk songs, which seem to take some following fully to ‘get’ (my first impression anyway: I want to get better acquainted with the definitely poetic elusive reclusive Nobel Laureate, with texts before me, too!)


    • “art song” folk songs is something different, though I don’t know if it is all poetry (Bob Dylan excepted? No, I don’t think so. Some of his music is just credible doo wap). Most any pop song, though, will sound dumb if you read it aloud in a really serious voice.


      • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

        Interesting to try to think of song-lyric as distinct from poem-set-to-music (where providing the text in the former case is a sort of courteous helpful concession, an aid to comfortable following of the whole thing, words and music together) – and i wonder where the fascinating phenomenon of metrical text set to different tunes fits in (and, so, different texts to the same tune, too)?

        Liked by 1 person

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