Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Barefoot Movement and Milk Carton Kids

I'm feeling rather fed up because I wrote a post about our great concert last night, and then it got swallowed up by Blogger. This has happened to me several times before, but I still, clearly, haven't learned my lesson to draft my posts on Notepad and then drop them into Blogger. Silly me.

In spite of this setback, I'm excited to share with you my thoughts about the concert I went to with my 16-year-old son, Chris, last night, after he won tickets on Tixie. My post will be shorter this time around!

Chris has never met a concert he doesn't like. Many of our discussions revolve around his efforts to persuade us to go to concerts or music festivals, with the entire family in tow, even! He is completely besotted with concerts...even if he's never heard the band before. On the other hand, I'm less interested in going to concerts of bands I do not follow--I value my time and money too much!
But free is appealing, and I listened to the groups beforehand and knew I'd like them. Chris, though, deliberately did not listen to the music before the concert. The reason he bid on the tickets on Tixie was that he liked the band name (Milk Carton Kids)!

The Barefoot Movement

This group of young, amazingly talented musicians, the Barefoot Movement, hails from North and South Carolina and Tennessee, where they attended Eastern Tennessee State University, which offers a major in bluegrass, old-time, and country music. Noah Wall sings vocals and plays a kick-ass fiddle (and writes most of the lyrics), Tommy Norris plays a mean mandolin, Quentin Acres sings and plays rhythm guitar, and Hasee Ciaccio plays the upright bass and sings. I think they are the youngest band I've ever seen perform live--so young that Hasee is turning 21 today, and one of them had never traveled east of Memphis. They play old-fashioned bluegrass amped up several notches. I love their sound!

I bought their most recent CD, Figures of the Year, and will do my best to get my hands on their other one too. Here's one of my favorites, "Do What You Please" (this video is from 2011, when they were even YOUNGER!):

I will definitely be following this group and looking for an opportunity to see them again when they return to Portland one day. And they made my teenager appreciate bluegrass--he loved them too!

Here's a quick clip of their recording of the Blind Melon song, "No Rain" (with some interviews):

The Milk Carton Kids

Milk Carton Kids performing an NPR Tiny Desk Concert
Before yesterday I'd never heard of the Milk Carton Kids, a duo from California, but I loved them as well. Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale sing beautiful, smooth two-part harmonies, prompting comparisons to Simon & Garfunkel and the Everly Brothers. How they differ from those two groups is that although many of their songs are sad and soulful, they are HILARIOUS. I think they spent nearly as much time joking and bantering as they did singing! (Well, maybe not...)

With a dry, quick wit, Joey loves to tell stories and tease his bandmate. Kenneth is an amazing guitarist. Before one song, Joey told us how much he'd been practicing his guitar, and how critical it was that we watch HIS hands during the next song. Then they started the next song, and Kenneth was just all over that guitar! Here's an example of Joey's banter, as he's explaining that they put up their first two albums (Prologue and Retrospect) for free on their web site (which I downloaded today!):

Here's a good example of Kenneth's guitar playing (see how you think they compare to Simon & Garfunkel!!):

Here's another song I like...Kenneth wrote it for his hypothetical future daughter, Charlie. I realized when they started describing it that I'd heard it on the radio (either KINK or NPR) just a few days ago:

I didn't buy their most recent album, the Ash & Clay, but I might have to do so. They are extremely generous musicians, not only offering their albums for free on their Web site, but also offering the entire album on youtube. They also still record their albums on vinyl and used these gorgeous, handmade microphones (made in Portland):

If you get a chance to see either of these two great bands, I strongly encourage you to jump at the chance. Such great talent! It's so much fun to discover new bands.


  1. I absolutely LOVE discovering new bands. I love fold music and bluegrass---so you've just made my weekend!! This is fantastic! Can't wait to dive in to these two bands. Love the songs you posted! :)

  2. Oh, I'm so glad you like them. You should check out their tours to see if they're coming to your town. It was such a fun concert!