Mandolin Orange bluegrass-folk acoustics fill Englert Theater

Mandolin Orange, a musical duo with Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz, performed at Englert Theater on Tuesday night, bringing bluegrass, folk, and acoustic vibes to share with the audience.


Nichole Harris

Emily Frantz and Andrew Marlin of Mandolin Orange perform at their concert at the Englert theatre on Tuesday, January 28, 2020.

Ashley Dawson, Arts Reporter

The Englert Theater welcomed duo Mandolin Orange Tuesday night, as well as opening act Kate Rhudy. They played out the evening with cool, ocean-wave folk vibes that echoed throughout the theater.

Originating in North Carolina, Mandolin Orange, made up of members Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz, has grown in popularity after releasing its first album in 2010. On the group’s current tour, they have traveled across the United States, and will end with the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee.

Its most recent album, Tides of a Teardrop, was released Feb. 1, 2019, and features beautiful songs such as “Golden Embers” and “The Wolves.”

Marlin is a singer-songwriter and Frantz is a multi-instrumentalist. Together, they make beautiful music that “is often wistful and contemplative without being somber,” according to New York Public Radio.

Just a few minutes before the show began, the seats were filling up. The crowd chattered amongst themselves as the smell of wine wafted through the auditorium.

Nichole Harris
Kate Rhudy sings as she opens for the band Mandolin Orange at its concert at the Englert theatre on Tuesday, January 28, 2020.

Beginning at 7:30 p.m., the opening act, Rhudy, began by playing a soft and slow melody on her acoustic guitar. She wore an ankle-length teal dress with old-fashioned florals that swayed back and forth with her movements.

“This next song is about a fourth of July I had, more specifically, the moment I asked a guy if he wanted to make out with me during the fireworks,” Rhudy said, making the audience laugh.

Rhudy finished her set after 40 minutes of music, backstories, and laughter.

Mandolin Orange came out to the stage at 8:30 p.m. Frantz wore a floor-length green dress, and Marlin wore a blue button up with khakis. The duo was backed up by a drummer, a bassist playing an upright bass, and a guitarist.

As Mandolin Orange’s wistful music filled the auditorium, the audience fell quiet and swayed with its melodic and rich voices.

Frantz gently moved back and forth as her violin rested on her shoulder. The backup members added strength to the duo’s singing and instrumentals.

Nichole Harris
Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz of the band Mandolin Orange open its concert at the Englert theatre on Tuesday, January 28, 2020.

Marlin handed off the acoustic guitar to Frantz and picked up a banjo as they went into its second song, which was heavy in beautiful bluegrass sounds.

The mixture of red and blue lights on the stage created a sweet violet haze as Mandolin Orange played its combination of music types, which ranged from country to folk and bluegrass with everything in-between.

Following a small mistake in its song, Marlin said, “I planned that voice crack, how did I do?” as the audience chuckled.

Going into its next song, they sang, “she sparkles like a diamond and she shines like gold.”

Marlin bobbed his head along with his soft banjo riffs as Frantz strummed along beside him.

The crowd seemed relaxed and satisfied with the sounds of the five instruments blending throughout the room.

Colorful stage lights continued to fade into soft colors to fit each different song, creating a calming effect in Englert’s auditorium. The combination of the fog and ever-slowly changing lights made the stage look like a beautiful dewy sunrise, which seemed to perfectly encapsulate the music that Mandolin Orange played throughout the night.