Mandolin Orange

Alerted by NPR this morning and entertained by the band’s name, I checked out Mandolin Orange and really liked what I found.

(#1) Mandolin Orange recording “Wildfire” 11/2/16 at Paste Studios in NYC

And they’ll be playing at the Fillmore in SF next month:

(#2) Their 3/21 gig at the Fillmore (1805 Geary Blvd.)

About the group, from Wikipedia:

Mandolin Orange [website here] is an Americana/folk duo based out of Chapel Hill, North Carolina.The group was formed in 2009 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and consists of the group’s songwriter Andrew Marlin (vocals, mandolin, guitar, banjo) and Emily Frantz (vocals, violin, guitar). Mandolin Orange has produced five albums of Marlin’s original works of American roots music. In the last three years, the group has toured throughout the U.S and Europe

Their music lies somewhere in between, or across, folk and country — so many people refer to it as “American roots music” — and is often described as both warm and sweet, but it has a distinctive edge to it as well. Homage to the roots:


(#2) MO cover of Bob Dylan’s “Boots of Spanish Leather” at Audiotree Live 4/15/14

The name. A punnish portmanteau of mandolin (Marlin’s favored instrument, with its strong but warm tones) and Mandarin orange (the fruit, which is both sweet and tart).

Earlier on this blog.

on 8/16/15, in “Morning: mandolin, mandoline”, a section on the musical instrument the mandolin; the modern instrument has the warmth of tone of its predecessors (including the lute), but the acoustic power that comes from metal strings (for a sample of the sound, see the Awesome Stories site on “Mandolin: How it Sounds”, with the 1st movement of the famous Mandolin Concerto by Antonio Vivaldi, performed by Detlef Tewes and the Mandolin Orchestra of Ettlingen, conducted by Boris Björn Bagger)

on 8/30/18, in “Mandarin orange at the Malamute Saloon”, a section on Mandarin oranges (Citrus reticulata); “Mandolin orange fruits are sweet to taste” (Wikipedia), but of course have the tartness of citrus fruits in general

Digression on Mapache, the opening act for MO at the Fillmore. From the bandcamp site, all rah-rah:

Close your eyes and imagine the Everly Brothers wearing Tied Dyed Nudie Suits. Okay, now open them. There’s Mapache [self-titled first album in 2017; the name is pronounced like Spanish mapache ‘raccoon’].
Youngn’s Clay Finch and Sam Blasucci, the Mapache boys, are barely in their 20s and are already rising to the top of the new wave of West Coast Cosmic Americana. Born and raised in Glendale, California, their breathtaking harmonies and heartfelt yet heady sound, was honed by surfing the beaches and exploring the deserts and canyons of their native California.

Think a surfer-influenced cross between the Grateful Dead and the Louvin Brothers.

“Wildfire”.  The video:

(#3) As I read it, the somg is about the power of ideas, both good ones and bad ones, starting with the sacrifice of Joseph Warren for the idea of American freedom and liberty

The lyrics, in four verses (Warren and patriotism, the cry for war over slavery, the Civil War and the hatred that ensued, the heritage of racial hatred that burns still):

Brave men fall with a battle cry
Tears fill the eyes of their loved ones and their brothers in arms
So it went, for Joseph Warren

It should have been different, it could have been easy
His rank could have saved him, but a country unborn needs bravery
And it spread like wildfire


From the ashes grew sweet liberty
Like the seeds of the pines when the forest burns
They open up, grow and burn again

It should have been different, it could have been easy
But too much money rolled in to ever end slavery
The cry for war spread like wildfire


Civil war came, civil war went
Brother fought brother, the south was spent
But its true demise was hatred, passed down through the years

It should have been different, it could have been easy
But pride has a way of holding too firm to history
And it burns like wildfire


I was born a southern son
In a small southern town where the rebels run wild
They beat their chest and they swear: we’re gonna rise again

It should have been different, it could have been easy
The day that old Warren died, hate should have gone with it
But here we are, caught in the wildfire


The remarkable history of Joseph Warren. From the New England Historical Society site:

Dr. Joseph Warren died a martyr’s death in the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775. According to British Gen. Thomas Gage, his death was ‘worth the death of 500 men.’

So passionate was Warren’s dedication to the cause of liberty that he told his mother in the weeks before the battle,

Where danger is, dear mother, there must your son be. Now is no time for any of American’s children to shrink from any hazard. I will set her free or die.

When the British taunted that the patriots wouldn’t fight, he declared, “I hope I shall die up to my knees in blood!”

Joseph Warren was born June 11, 1741, in Roxbury, Mass., a prosperous farmer’s son. After graduating from Harvard he practiced medicine and surgery in Boston.

Marrying an heiress helped him acquire a stellar list of clients, including John Adams and his family…

Joseph Warren was gregarious, charming and a powerful speaker who enlisted in the patriot cause.

He played a leading role in the fight for independence, joining Sam Adams and John Hancock in the Sons of Liberty. In 1775, he won election as president of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress. In addition to practicing medicine in Boston, he gave speeches, wrote newspaper essays and authored the Suffolk Resolves, a bold declaration of resistance to British authority.

As a good friend of Paul Revere, he enlisted Revere and William Dawes to take their famous midnight ride.

On the day of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, Joseph Warren sneaked out of Boston and led militia in harassing the British returning to the city. A musket ball struck his wig, nearly killing him. That’s when he told his mother he wouldn’t shrink from danger.

Warren returned to Boston, where he organized soldiers for the siege of Boston and negotiated with Gage.

On June 13, colonial leaders learned the British planned to send troops to take the unoccupied hills surrounding the besieged city. That night, 1,200 colonial troops stealthily occupied Bunker Hill and Breed’s Hill, on which they built an earthworks overnight.

Warren showed up the next day and asked Gen. Israel Putnam where the heaviest fighting would be. Commissioned a major general in the Massachusetts militia, but insisted on fighting as a private because he had no military experience. [“His rank could have saved him”]

During the battle on June 17 he fought behind the earthworks until the patriots exhausted their ammunition. He stayed there to give the militia time to escape while the British made their final assault. A British officer recognized him and shot him in the head. Joseph Warren died instantly.

(#4) The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker Hill by John Trumbull (1786)

The British stripped his body and stabbed it beyond recognition, then threw him into a shallow grave with another patriot killed in the battle. Paul Revere later identified his body.

… Of Joseph Warren, military historian Ethan Rafuse wrote, “No man, with the possible exception of Samuel Adams, did so much to bring about the rise of a movement powerful enough to lead the people of Massachusetts to revolution.”

One Response to “Mandolin Orange”

  1. [BLOG] Some Wednesday links | A Bit More Detail Says:

    […] Zwicky points readers towards the enjoyable music of Americana/folk duo Mandolin […]

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