Music

Mandolin Orange

Relationship goals

Attend

What: Mandolin Orange

When: 8 pm Fri., Mar. 8

Where: Mount Baker Theatre, 104 N. Commercial St.

Cost: $22.50

Info: http://www.mountbakertheatre.com

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

For as long as I have been an observer of Bellingham’s music scene, I’ve heard musicians talk about how there is no tour stop like this one, no audience like a Bellingham crowd. At first, I was skeptical, thinking it to be the equivalent of a hackneyed pickup line tried out on as many likely targets as possible.

“They probably say that to all the towns,” I’d think.

Over time, I came to realize most of these musicians were telling the truth. When Bellingham falls in love with a band, we often do it at first sight, we crush hard and completely—and we’re not afraid to show it.

When we’re in love, we are not cool about it. Our affection is obsessive and explosive and a possibly a little scary. We’re showing up at your tour van or bus, we’re ogling you while you’re trying to eat dinner, we’re buying you drinks and inviting you back to our house after the show. We have no chill.

However, sometimes we fall in love the old-fashioned way. We take things slow. We get to know a band. We let things happen naturally. We don’t give it all away up front. We might even play a little hard to get.

In short, we allow ourselves to be wooed.

So it was with Mandolin Orange.

When the North Carolina-based Americana/folk duo first appeared on our radar, it was 2015 and they played the Green Frog. About 30 people showed up to witness Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz perfectly harmonize their way through a set of Marlin’s songs, and they came away with the beginnings of a crush.

It was a promising first date.

As one does when one has a crush, those who were at that first show talked about Mandolin Orange to their friends, to their coworkers, to whoever would listen. Enough so that when the band next rolled through in 2016, 100 or so people came to see them at the Shakedown.

We were still trying them on, but it seemed more and more like they were a good fit.

As the months went by and absence made our heart grow fonder, we began to yearn to see Mandolin Orange again. We wanted to hear their sweetly intimate songs that sounded as if they could’ve been written just for us. By the time they came back to us in 2017, we filled the Wild Buffalo, letting them know that we were ready to take things to the next level and make things official—we were in a full-fledged relationship with Mandolin Orange. We were buying their albums, searching them on YouTube, following them on social media—some of us probably even introduced them to our parents.

It was not love at first sight, but a bond built over time. However, no matter how long it took us to get there, the end result was the same with regard to Mandolin Orange as with all those other bands we have fancied over the years: We lost all our chill.

So now Marlin and Frantz are making their way back to Bellingham again, and they’re doing so in support of their newly released album, Tides of a Teardrop, which is their most personal and fully realized effort to date. The songs have to do with loss, grief and both making peace with the past and putting it in its proper place. However, thanks in no small part to the duo’s gift with vocal harmonies—one that often draws comparisons to Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris—the songs are more comforting than sad, more nostalgic than regretful.

However, none of that is news to the band’s Bellingham fan base, now too large for even the generously sized Wild Buffalo. It might’ve taken us a minute to catch on to Mandolin Orange, but now our love for them cannot be contained.

However, Wild Buffalo owner and talent booker Craig Jewell is nothing if not a musical matchmaker. And Mandolin Orange gave him the perfect opportunity to do something he’s wanted to do for a long time: to play Cupid and set a band up with the Mount Baker Theatre. So, when Mandolin Orange plays their Fri., March 8 concert, they will have the honor of being the first show presented by the Wild Buffalo at the historic venue. After all, what better place to take this romance to the next level than on the city’s most impressively beautiful stage? Isn’t that what relationship goals are all about?

BoS
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