Downtown Chapel Hill

Downtown Blog

Mandolin Orange Interview - 6/20/11



I first met Emily and Andrew in the fall of 2009 shortly after they formed their duo here in Chapel Hill.  One of the first times I heard them play was at Local 506 opening a show with a stunningly plaintive version of Bob Dylan's Lay Lady Lay.  The rendition instantly quieted a rowdy room sending chills down my back.  They finished their set and ran out the door to play a set at The Cave a few minutes later.  If you've ever had the chance to see Mandolin Orange play I wouldn't doubt you've had a similar experience (possibly without the quick exit to another performance).  


In the fall of 2010 I found myself once again stunned at 506 seeing Emily and Andrew, this time with a full backing band, blow the room away.  They played songs from their fantastic 2010 release, Quiet Little Room along with new originals and some beautiful covers.  Aside from a wonderful musical experience I met a lovely young woman at their show and soon started dating her.  To top it off we recently decided to get married!  The lesson is this: go see Mandolin Orange and find the girl/guy of your dreams!!!!

Mandolin Orange have been quite busy lately with shows all across the area, but they were kind enough respond to a little email interview I sent them.  Be sure to come out this Thursday at 7:00 pm for a free show featuring Mandolin Orange with Big Fat Gap opening.  Locally Grown runs all summer on Thursdays in Downtown Chapel Hill.  More info at  - Bobby Funk, Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership


Downtown Partnership - What are the biggest changes musically you've noticed in the time since Quiet Little Room came out?

Mandolin Orange - Since we released QLR we've added a rhythm section, which has been the most notable change. We love collaborating with Jeff (bass) and James (drums, organ), but we still do lots of duo shows.  We're more versatile that way, and both setups have certain advantages.

DP - What has been your most memorable show you've played and why?

MO - Our CD release show last May (at the Local 506) was a very memorable night.  It was really special to see all the folks who came out to celebrate the release with us--I think it exemplified what a great local music community we have here.

DP - How does the band dynamic change when you bring in James Wallace, Jeff Crawford, etc.... for your full band?

MO - It does change the dynamic.  Musically, the two of them create such a comfortable rhythm pocket for the two of us to groove in.  We've grown really close with those guys from all the time spent playing, traveling and recording over the last year.  They understand what we're trying to get across and help us achieve that, so it feels like a lot of the intimacy is retained.

DP - What records have you been into lately?

MO - Time (The Revelator) by Gillian Welch, Brothers by The Black Keys, Infamous Angel by Iris Dement.

DP - What are your favorite Downtown businesses?

MO -  We always debate between India Palace and IP3--two favorites.

DP - When is the new record coming out, and what influences informed its style? 

MO - The new album will release in September (details TBA).  Its influences are all over the map, and the recording has happened over a long span of time in several different places.  We're really pumped to get all these new songs out there!

DP - You seem to collaborate quite a bit with other artists in the area.  What projects have been the most fun?

MO - Andrew has a new bluegrass 4-piece called the Mason's Apron, with members of Big Fat Gap, Hammer No More the Fingers (their drummer is an amazing bluegrass guitarist!) and Town Mountain.  But we're pretty jam-happy and have fun sitting in and recording with all kinds of other folks, both together and individually.  We sit in some with Bevel Summers, and work on recording here and there with Josh Moore.  We do occasional shows with the Dogwoods, a rock-ish band where everyone gets the opportunity to sing their guilty pleasure cover songs! Seems like everyone in this town plays music and it's a really fun, meaningful connection to have with people.

DP - If you could work with any artist on a project, who would it be?

MO - Too too hard.