The Massry Center for the Arts Adds The Milk Carton Kids to Line Up December 7
The Massry Center has partners with Troy Music Hall to offer an impressive line up of musicians, including the newly added Milk Carton Kids on December 7th at 8 pm.
Since their last hit studio album, Monterey (ANTI- 2015), life has changed dramatically for Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan, otherwise known as The Milk Carton Kids. Pattengale has moved to, and is now producing records in, Nashville. Ryan is now the father of two children and works as a producer on Live from Here with Chris Thile, the reboot of A Prairie Home Companion. A break from years of non-stop touring, Ryan says, has yielded “space outside of the band that gives us perspective on what the band is.”
The break is over and they are back on the road again, promoting their recently released album, All the Things That I Did and All the Things That I Didn’t Do.
Though they didn’t approach the new album conceptually, a theme of shattered realities began to emerge out of the songs that sparked to life. Recent events provided a bruising background for the record, yet the project is somehow bigger than any personal grief. Two-part harmonies ride acoustic guitars high above the haunting landscape created by the presence of the band, as if Americana went searching for a lost America.
Listening to the Milk Carton Kids talk about their creative process, it’s easy to imagine them running in opposite directions even while yoked together. “Joey and I famously have an adversarial relationship, and that did not abate when it came to choosing songs,” Pattengale says.
They dig at each other in interviews and on stage, where Ryan plays his own straight man, while Pattengale tunes his guitar. The songs emerge somewhere in the silences and the struggle between their sensibilities.
They have been known to argue over song choices. They have been known to argue about everything from wardrobe to geography to grammar. But their singing is the place where they make room for each other and the shared identity that rises out of their combined voices.
Pattengale recalls hearing a story from Del Byrant, the son of Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, who wrote so many of the Everly Brothers’ biggest hits. The tale goes that when it came time to teach them a new song, the couple would separate the brothers, with each one going into a different room to learn his part. In the process, they would tell each brother that he was singing the melody, while his brother was singing harmony.
Defying the conventions of melody and harmony is a strategy the Milk Carton Kids have consciously embraced. “Sometimes, we’ll switch parts for a beat or a bar or a note,” Ryan says. “And that starts to obfuscate what is the melody and what is the supporting part. Because we think of both of them being strong enough to stand alone.”
“There are only so many things you can do alone in life that allow you to transcend your sense of self for even a short period,” Pattengale says. “I’m the lucky recipient of a life in which for hundreds of times, day after day, I get to spend an hour that is like speaking a language only two people know and doing it in a space with others who want to hear it.
By extending that language to a band and reimagining the boundaries around what acoustic-centered two-part harmony can sound like, All The Things That I Did and All The Things That I Didn’t Do carries listeners down a river and out into the open sea.
Tickets are on sale now in person, by phone 518-274-7804, or online at www.massrycenter.org or www.troymusichall.org. Tickets may be purchased in person at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall box office, located at 30 Second St., Troy, Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tickets cost $35 for general admission; St. Rose College student cost is $10.
The Massry Center for the Arts is located at 1002 Madison Ave., Albany. Free off street parking is available behind the Massry Center building.