Mandolin Orange in Fort Collins
The sheer talent and approachability of Mandolin Orange’s music cannot be overstated. The delicate and docile tones put the listener at ease while the subject matter varies wildly from song to song. From the enlightened Southern perspective put forth in “Wildfire” to the suite of ballads that Andrew Marlin wrote in the ensuing years after his mother’s passing; Mandolin Orange is anything but predictable. While the narratives they weave fluctuate their music never deviates from its velvety, smooth texture and cadence.
Mandolin Orange invited fellow North Carolinian and multi-instrumentalist Kate Rhudy to open up the sold out show. Marlin produced Kate’s 2017 debut album Rock Ain’t For Me, which helped to gain her some well-earned attention nationally. To say this crowd was attentive would be an understatement. At one point during the opening set a patron sneezed and Rhudy God Blessed him mid-lyric. Her music is like a warm whisper telling a secret that you strain to hear. With a full band she can be dynamic and at times downright rowdy, but solo she is gracefully raw in the telling of her truth with each song. She performed heartbreakers like “I Don’t Think You’re An Angel (Anymore)” and “Kissing My Friends.” Between tunes she sprinkled in humorous anecdotes setting up each number perfectly. “Til The Butter Melts” was about a lover who talked in their sleep and her set closing “The Only Pretty Thing in Texas” was about a tour gone awry. This run opening for Mandolin Orange is an excellent opportunity for Rhudy to reach that wider audience she obviously deserves.
Emily Frantz and Andrew Marlin aka Mandolin Orange brought along a full band on this visit to Colorado. Even with the additional players they maintained their down-home feel, passing instruments back and forth and regaling the audience with both story and song. They opened the night with “Golden Embers” off their latest album Tides of a Teardrop. “The Wolves” made an early appearance before they played a new number “Belly Of The Beast” memorializing fellow friend and picker Jeff Austin.
The delicate and docile tones put the listener at ease while the subject matter varies wildly from song to song. From the enlightened Southern perspective put forth in “Wildfire” to the suite of ballads that Andrew Marlin wrote in the ensuing years after his mother’s passing; Mandolin Orange is anything but predictable. While the narratives they weave fluctuate their music never deviates from its velvety, smooth texture and cadence.
While their performance still maintained some of the social commentary for which Mandolin Orange has become known for, their recent musical output feels much more personal. They played a number of older tracks including “Calvary” and “Like You Used To” interspersed with the new. Kate Rhudy retuned with her fiddle on the “The Hawk is a Mule” a string jam about employing a falcon as an international drug smuggler… hypothetically. She stayed to add her backup vocals to the Emily’s on “Into The Sun.” Mandolin Orange wrapped up their set with the aforementioned “Wildfire” much to the delight of the still very focused crowd.
The five-piece returned for a two song encore consisting of fan favorite “Hey Stranger” into the woefully beautiful “Heart of Gold.”
Their music is timeless and with slots on several prominent festival lineups including Bonnaroo, Telluride Bluegrass and Delfest this summer Mandolin Orange is poised to reach a much wider audience.