I was also keen on the dry, tongue-in-cheek suit and tie wearing duo Milk Carton Kids, moreso than the Seattle chamber-folk band Hey Marseilles, who were pleasant enough, but they’ve got a long ways to go before stepping outside the Decemberists-Arcade Fire-Death Cab for Cutie box they’ve built.
Dan DeLuca, Philadelphia Enquirer Folk Music Critic
Milk Carton Kids – Now this is what we were expecting out of a folk festival: classic sounds that could have come out of Greenwich Village during the Kennedy administration. The Milk Carton Kids specialize in gorgeous vocal and heart-rending melodies, but if the folk thing doesn’t work out for them they’ve definitely got a career in stand-up comedy waiting for them if they want it. But the folk thing will work, if the overwhelming reaction at the Quad stage is any indication.
The rain came early and often – a mist to begin, finding its way to a steady spit. I didn’t even notice at first, to be honest. I was nestled in the center of a large and solid tent, a few rows back, watching the Milk Carton Kids play one of the first and finest sets of Day One at the 2013 Newport Folk Festival.
“We’ve worn our finest suits,” joked Joey Ryan after the duo’s first song or two. “[We] brought these notes that’ll help us put on the most professional show possible.”
As their set unfolded, Ryan and his songwriting partner Kenneth Pattengale dropped one-liners about the remarkable collection of photographers and the crowd around the tent. No doubt they were marveling at how far they’ve come in the three years since they blended their solo careers into a collaboration so intuitive it often sounds like they’re singing in the same voice, just on different notes. Of course, between jokes, they unleashed the music, with its daringly tight harmonies and heartbreaking lyrics. They pulled mostly from their recent release The Ash and Clay (Anti-, 2013), though a few of the songs reached back farther than that. For many under this tent, though, it was likely all new.
After a day of rain and drenched shoes squishing through mud, the second day of this year’s Newport Folk Festival was beating with sun. Arriving a little late, I took a seat at the back of the crowd around the Harbor Tent for Sarah Jarosz. Backed by Nathaniel Smith on cello and Alex Hargreaves on fiddle, Jarosz moved through material from across her two already-released albums, as well as a couple of selections from her forthcoming disc – due on Sugar Hill Records Aug. 6. She covered Tim O’Brien and shared one she co-wrote with Darrell Scott. It was a lovely set, marked by Jarosz’s remarkably casual dexterity on her instruments…
Sarah will be appearing on the Hamilton Campus of Miami University on Saturday, September 28 and The Milk Carton Kids will be in Middletown at Dave Finkelman Auditorium on November 2.
Tickets are available now by calling (513) 529-3200 or at http://www.miamioh.edu/boxoffice