North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh
Saturday, July 22, 2017
The heatwave sweeping the Triangle in late July continued as the gates opened to the North Carolina Museum of Art as a sold-out crowd lined up to brave the temperatures to see Mandolin Orange. Part of the museum’s twentieth season, dubbed its “homegrown season,” the evening also included a performance by Joe Pug, a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill graduate, who opened the show.
In recent months, Mandolin Orange has been busy touring the country, with notable stops at the famed Red Rocks venue in Colorado and appearances at Bonnaroo, the Newport Folk Festival, and Pickathon. It should come as no surprise that the evening was sold out, with folks clamoring for any extra tickets online in the days leading up to the performance.
The group worked through its acclaimed Blindfaller album, mixing in some older numbers like “Haste Make” and “Jump Mountain Blues” before calling up Raleigh native Kate Rhudy to join them on stage. In a move that was reminiscent of Chatham County Line's invitation to Mandolin Orange—then an unknown duo—to join them during a show at Cat’s Cradle many years ago, Rhudy joined the band for her song "Life of the Party."
When the song finished and the crowd roared, Emily Frantz quipped that “maybe Kate should do her next show here,” which elicited another roar from the crowd. Later on, the duo invited Joe Pug on-stage for a rendition of Jesse Winchester’s “The Brand New Tennessee Waltz” while several couples danced in the crowd.
Among many highlights, the most memorable song performed was the band's final number. Frantz lamented recently turning thirty and remarked that the feeling, paired with returning home in the summertime, made the song “Strawberry Wine” by Deanna Carter a natural fit to end the show. The first cool breeze of the evening swept across the amphitheater as the final notes rang out, and a standing ovation sent Mandolin Orange off on another cross-country tour amid the hope for more summer nights as sweet as strawberry wine.
Mandolin Orange with Kate Rhudy, "Life of the Party"
Mandolin Orange, "Hard Travelin'"
Mandolin Orange with Joe Pug, "The Brand New Tennessee Waltz"