The Milk Carton Kids – “The Only Ones”


In late 2019, the Milk Carton Kids self-released an excellent new album, The Only Ones, and set out on a tour of “Very Small Venues for Very Low Ticket Prices… and Very Few Seats.” It was a chance for the duo to perform for their most rabid fans at some of the venues that they started out in. Before their show at Seattle’s Tractor Tavern, the pair – Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan – stopped by the Fretboard Journal to perform the album’s title track.

While here, Joey Ryan tried out a guitar you’ve likely never seen him with… a Martin. More specifically, he put down his ’51 Gibson J-45 and, thanks to Seattle’s Jet City Guitars, tried out an exquisite 1939 Martin D-18 with a palindrome of a serial number (73137).

“This is the best guitar that I’ve played that handles itself well tuned-down a whole step,” Ryan admitted of the vintage Martin. “[On] so many of our songs, my guitar is tuned down a whole step. [With another guitar] I’d have to relearn it in it some other key, which is not an option at my playing level.”

Not to be outdone, Kenneth borrowed another rare bird for this session, a 1934 Martin 000-18 with bar frets, long scale and the optional dark top. “It’s basically an OM-18 stamped ‘000-18’ to fall in line with the time-honored Martin series,” Jet City’s Jim Brown explains.

Guitars aside, the MCK seemed to be enjoying their back-to-basics approach for 2019. The mini tour sold out every venue, the duo are plotting a follow-up to their first-ever Sad Songs Summer Camp and The Only Ones has garnered rave reviews. “The [new] album stands as a reminder to just be following the good ideas, following your gut and following your heart,” Kenneth says.