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Milk Carton Kids return to Belly Up for first time since pandemic began

SOLANA BEACH — Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, music lovers can still enjoy some sense of normalcy at the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach.

The venue has been putting on shows for several weeks now with protocols in place to protect performers and patrons and this week will welcome a regular from before the pandemic who is celebrating ten years since their first album, a folk duo known as The Milk Carton Kids.

The duo composed of Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale is excited to return to Solana Beach which they consider their home base south of their hometown of Los Angeles.

“I’ve lost track of how many times we’ve played at the Belly Up,” Ryan told The Coast News. “There’s not many other places you can play with a red-eyed shark staring you in the face on stage. So we have to keep coming back to that.”

Ryan and Pattengale begin a tour of the West Coast this week in celebration of the ten-year anniversary of “Prologue,” the duo’s first album as The Milk Carton Kids.

Still cautious of the pandemic, Ryan says they have been in many conference calls with different venues to ensure everything is done as safely as possible.

“We have ways that we can do it responsibly and safely so we should,” Ryan said. “We should not deprive ourselves and each of that experience of the music and being together anymore. We should do it safely and keep it going.”

For The Milk Carton Kids or any band or entertainer during the ongoing pandemic, it is a struggle to keep track of all of the state and local mandates and regulations regarding the virus.

At the band’s show at the Belly Up this Monday, there will be a requirement to provide either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours. The venue is asking all those who aren’t vaccinated to wear a mask and is encouraging those who are vaccinated to still use their mask.

“On our side, I have not heard of any issues so it seems like by and large that everyone is kind of on the same page,” Ryan said.

The Milk Carton Kids have been compared to other folk and rock duos such as Simon & Garfunkel and The Everly Brothers. Their style of music, generally soft and introspective, has led them to gain a fan base that may be more inclined to follow the regulations laid out by state and local health officials.

“For the most part, I think people just want to come and see a show and not feel like they are putting themselves and their family or whoever they live with at-risk unnecessarily,” Ryan said. “I think even if people don’t fully agree what different mandates should be, most people don’t have that much energy to get that angry I feel.”

The West Coast tour of The Milk Carton Kids, along with singer-songwriter Haley Heynderickx, starts this weekend with shows in Phoenix and Los Angeles before they make the trip down to the home away from home in Solana Beach for a show Monday night at 8 p.m.

The show is 21 and over only and tickets are still available on the Belly Up website.