— to work jointly with others or together especially in an intellectual endeavor
— the action of working with someone to produce or create something
Or as I’ve taken to calling it, “The Art of Coming Together”.
You know those days when there is tangible magic in the air? Some kind of enchanted frequency, bliss-laced static electricity, or simply some damn good juju? The kind of day that is evidence that the stars aligned the night before spelling out your name… I’m quite partial to those days and I will go to great lengths to infuse my day with the necessary musical (or literary) loving to get me on track. I find a good collaborative effort to be an inspirational hug wrapped with a bow. I get to live vicariously through someone else’s connection. I’m a sucker for camaraderie. When I see people really getting one another, expanding on each other’s talents — I don’t know, it speaks to me in a powerful, awe-inducing way. No matter how many times I have the opportunity to witness artists collaborating, I can’t help feeling a little bewitched by the experience. There is an unspoken reverence that occurs in those moments and it’s really something special to behold.
When I ponder some of the very best collaborations (and I have an EXTREMELY long list) Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan immediately come to mind. They are no strangers to the blogosphere, you probably already know them as The Milk Carton Kids. There isn’t much that I can say about them that hasn’t already been said. These two are sensational together and if you’ve heard them play, chances are pretty solid they made an impression. Their live show is second to none and they are the truest of troubadours.
I’ve been a fan of Joey Ryan’s since 2006. I’m pretty sure I own all of his music, down to his first EPs. I’ve seen him play in Oregon, California, Colorado and Texas. His live show won me over early on and I always drag my friends out to see him whenever he plays near me. (Or whenever I travel to see him. )
I first heard Kenneth Pattengale in 2010. He played the Hotel Cafe Showcase at the Vail Film Festival. I was blown away by his talent and seriously disappointed in myself for not being familiar with his music prior to that. I immediately got acquainted with his entire catalog and searched out all available youtube videos.
(Do yourself a favor and check out his version of Betty Davis Eyes. I get chills whenever I hear it.)
From the very first time I saw Kenneth and Joey on stage together I felt the chemistry. I had no idea they would abandon their aforementioned solo careers and join forces, but I confess I’m glad they did. You might compare it to meeting that perfect someone… these two are just better together. I mean no disrespect to any of their previous musical endeavors; I will be an enthusiastic supporter of any effort either of these fellas is involved in. But when they joined forces they went from really good, to really fucking great and you simply can’t begrudge that.
These two are becoming widely known for their goosebump-inducing harmonies, intricate guitar picking, witty crowd-pleasing banter and their eloquent grasp on the craft of song-writing. They have an undeniably timeless sound that can’t help but to garner comparison to some of the folk-rock greats. I hope this peaks your interest, but in truth what Joey and Kenneth bring to their genre shouldn’t be described with words. It’s an art that must be experienced first hand.
Collaboration is an essential part of life. Some collaborations are disastrous and some take on lives of their own spawning countless new creations and inspiring many many more people to unite and tap into the mystical well of collaborative energy. It always comes back to connection. No matter how I dance around things, that’s what it always comes back to for me. Does that person, that song, that meal, that moment, that _________ (FILL IN THE BLANK) make you feel alive? Do you connect with it?
In their short time as a band The Milk Carton Kids have delivered two albums chalk full of melodies that penetrate to my core, slowly seeping in through all of the unguarded pathways that lead to my soul. Being the sensual being that I am, I delight in the simultaneous ache, longing and satisfaction that occurs when I listen to their music.
They leave my heart pulsating for days and suffice it to say, I am grateful.