Live: Mandolin Orange warms to its homecoming | Music
INDY Week's music blog

Archives | RSS

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Live: Mandolin Orange warms to its homecoming

Posted by and on Wed, May 6, 2015 at 11:56 AM

click to enlarge PHOTO BY DAN SCHRAM
  • Photo by Dan Schram
Mandolin Orange & Ryan Gustafson
Memorial Hall, Chapel Hill
Saturday, May 2, 2015

When Emily Frantz introduced “There Was A Time” Saturday night at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Memorial Hall, she called it an “old one.” The barbed, heartbreaking tune appears on 2013’s This Side of Jordan, Mandolin Orange’s most recent album before the new Such Jubilee.

But from the weary looks on the faces of the hard-touring Frantz and her partner Andrew Marlin, two years can be a long time on the road, wearing you down differently than merely sitting in an audience. The popular Carrboro pair took sometime to settle into home Saturday. Frantz surveyed the room and remarked that, as a UNC graduate, it was a dream to play the Carolina blue concert hall. And in front of their hometown crowd, no imperfection was tolerated. Marlin worked with the sound engineer to chase down a speaker hum that seemed inaudible to the rest of the room. 

The audience worked to put them at ease. Rousing applause rewarded each song. Just a few numbers into the set, the crowd began to clap along. Frantz noted that it normally takes audiences much longer to join. Marlin's shoulders relaxed. His face eased. His stage banter drifted into comfortable teasing of  Frantz and family stories. Throughout the set, his mandolin solos became more vigorous, too. The audience roared during each one, compelling him to pick faster and harder.

To end the night, Mandolin Orange invited up members of the Big Fat Gap Band. They huddled around a single microphone and picked up the tempo with a pair of bluegrass tunes, “Cherokee Trail” and “Thin Ice.” Marlin even hinted at a few dance moves while he talked and laughed with his new stage mates. He and Frantz were no longer performing in their hometown; they were at home.

A solo performance from Ryan Gustafson, who seems to take more energy from traveling than settling down, opened the night. Gustafson’s new music centers around fingerpicked guitar and banjo, with some slide work to add color. It’s more intricate than the broader rock of his main band, The Dead Tongues. On The Dead Tongues’ Desert, Gustafson’s eager to search for answers. But Friday night, it sounded like he had found some. Named after a rail line running from Montana to the Pacific Northwest, “Empire Builder” used furious picking and tense chord progressions to paint a picture of the American West flying by. It sounds like Gustafson hitched a ride and found peace.

Mandolin Orange, "Daylight" & "Blue Ruin"

Mandolin Orange & Big Fat Gap, "Cherokee Trail" & "Thin Ice"

Ryan Gustafson, "Empire Builder"

Ryan Gustafson, "Black Flower Blooming"

Tags: , , , , ,

Pin It


Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Music

Twitter Activity


I was proud to call him Uncle Willy cousin with the same birthday

by Blackfoot on Proud to call him Lumbee: Willie French Lowery, 1944-2012 (Music)

Most Read

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…

Most Recent Comments

I was proud to call him Uncle Willy cousin with the same birthday

by Blackfoot on Proud to call him Lumbee: Willie French Lowery, 1944-2012 (Music)

Revive is my people. If folks were offended by this, I can assure you it wasn't intentional. Revive Music was …

by Matthew Allen on Art of Cool Festival, Night One: Revive Big Band's Music-History Concert Leaves Out Women to an Absurd Degree (Music)

Small crowds like the one in Utrecht The Netherlands where I was with my 7 year young daughter may be …

by George Hendriks on The blues of Randall Bramblett's career-long cult status—and the promise of his new Devil Music (Music)

Wow! I am speechless. Skylar that was amazing! You are very talented. I love your vocal range and passion. Thank …

by Rita Romaine Rakestraw on Video Premiere: Phil Cook and Skylar Gudasz Nod to Alice Gerrard in New Tribute Clips (Music)

© 2017 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation