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The City of Angels, long celebrated for its vibrant music scene, is set to embrace a new tradition as it plays host to the inaugural Los Angeles Folk Festival. This two-day event, curated by the folk-inspired duo, The Milk Carton Kids, is scheduled to take place at the breathtaking Ford venue, promising a lineup as diverse as the city itself.
While Los Angeles has always had a rich tapestry of musical genres and influences, folk music festivals have been a rare sight in the city’s musical landscape. One might recall the Troubadours of Folk Festival at UCLA in 1993, a star-studded affair that included luminaries like Joni Mitchell and the Folksmen. Since then, the city has seen few attempts to organize a folk festival on such a grand scale, at least until now.
The Milk Carton Kids, known for their soul-stirring harmonies and introspective songwriting, have taken it upon themselves to change that narrative. Alongside their own performance, the duo will serve as hosts for an eclectic lineup of artists spanning various folk and folk-inspired genres. The festival promises an exciting mix of musical talents, seasoned with a touch of comedy.
Scheduled to perform on Saturday are Sierra Ferrell, Valerie June, David Garza & Freaklórico, Tré Burt, and comedian Mae Martin. The Sunday lineup includes Waxahatchee, Haley Heynderickx, Willie Watson, comedian Nick Thune, and several surprise guest appearances.
Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale, the faces behind The Milk Carton Kids, recently sat down for an interview with Variety to discuss their ambitious festival venture. Ryan expressed his enthusiasm for the festival’s diverse lineup, highlighting the importance of showcasing artists who may not be household names but play a crucial role in today’s music scene. The duo’s vision is clear: they aim to invigorate the L.A. community and establish the Los Angeles Folk Festival as an annual tradition.
The use of the term “first annual” raised an interesting grammatical debate during the interview. Ryan and Pattengale acknowledge that it may be unconventional, but they are determined to make it a tradition regardless. Their confidence in the festival’s potential to resonate with the local community and beyond is palpable.
When questioned about L.A.’s history with major folk festivals, Ryan acknowledges that the idea has been simmering for quite some time. Friends and acquaintances in the music industry expressed gratitude for finally bringing this vision to life, recognizing the city’s deep-seated folk music roots. While Los Angeles may not be the first city that comes to mind in discussions of folk music, it has a rich history, including its association with iconic figures like Woody Guthrie.
Pattengale emphasizes that the Los Angeles Folk Festival is not meant to be a nostalgic trip down memory lane but rather a celebration of the contemporary folk music scene. It’s about music that is happening right now, transcending traditional boundaries. The Ford, often hailed as one of the most enchanting outdoor venues in L.A., serves as the perfect backdrop for this musical journey.
The duo acknowledges that folk music is a broad term, and they prefer to embrace its diverse facets. While acoustic instruments often come to mind in the context of folk music, the artists selected for the festival represent a subversive, outsider spirit that challenges norms and expectations. It’s not just about strumming guitars and singing vaguely political songs; it’s about pushing boundaries and leaving a mark on the contemporary music landscape.
Despite their own acoustic sound, The Milk Carton Kids see themselves as part of a broader and more dynamic folk music community. The festival lineup reflects this belief, featuring artists who bring an edge and vitality to their performances. There’s no room for the “background-y” or simply soothing; each artist offers something urgent and compelling.
In addition to the announced lineup, The Milk Carton Kids plan to infuse the festival with spontaneity and collaboration. Surprise guest appearances and impromptu performances are on the agenda, drawing inspiration from the spirit of folk festivals worldwide.
Some of the announced guests include Tish Melton, Charlie Hickey, John C. Reilly, and Raye Zaragoza. Among them, John C. Reilly stands out as a charismatic performer with a beautiful singing voice. His presence promises to be a highlight of the festival.
The Milk Carton Kids’ enthusiasm is infectious, and their passion for curating a diverse and compelling festival experience is evident. They envision the Los Angeles Folk Festival as a platform for connecting artists and audiences in a celebration of music’s power to transcend boundaries and create lasting memories.
As Los Angeles prepares to embrace this exciting new tradition, music enthusiasts and folk music aficionados alike can look forward to an unforgettable weekend filled with soul-stirring melodies, captivating performances, and the warm, communal spirit of folk music. The Los Angeles Folk Festival is poised to carve out a special place in the city’s musical legacy, offering a fresh perspective on the ever-evolving world of folk music. Don’t miss the chance to be a part of this historic musical journey.